Indiana should change a law that says Hoosier children don't have to attend school until the year they turn 7.

As it now stands, not every child attends kindergarten - and that creates problems for the child and school systems.

The House Education Committee at the Indiana General Assembly last week heard a bill that would establish a pilot program to provide pre-kindergarten vouchers to 1,000 children beginning in 2015. The Senate scaled back a similar proposal last year.

The proposal would establish the framework for the pilot program, but a decision on how to fund the program would wait until 2015, when lawmakers craft the next state budget.

Adopting such a proposal would be money well spent.

"Indiana is one of only about 10 states that does not have some form of a state-funded preschool program," House Speaker Brian Bosma said, "and we're targeting on the most vulnerable population. The population that needs, in my opinion, the most opportunity in this regard."

Anyone who has been around young children understands that they need to be prepared for the educational demands they will encounter at an early age.

The adage is true. From kindergarten to second grade, children learn to read. From third grade on, they read to learn.

Kindergarten should not be optional.

As the law now stands, youngsters could go straight into first grade without knowing the alphabet, how to count, or how to write their names.

If legislators are sincere about boosting educational opportunities for young Hoosiers, then they should start by requiring all students to attend kindergarten. That way, first-grade teachers can be assured that all of their charges each year will have some classroom experience and basic knowledge.

And, funding for full-day kindergartners should be at the same level as students in grades 1-12. Not every Indiana school district receives full funding for kindergarten programs.

If we are to rely on the kindergarten year for basic education, then the state should be supporting it in the same way it does other grades.

- The Associated Press and Seymour Tribune

provided information for this editorial