Rise & Shine: Evansville community defends transgender student

Good morning!

Every year, a national report comes out that puts Indiana near the bottom of the country when it comes to preschool access. We didn’t even appear on the list until recently, when local leaders took up the charge five years ago to launch Indiana’s first state-supported pre-K program.

Since then, early childhood education has become — perhaps somewhat quietly — one of the most important education storylines in Indiana, a key investment that advocates hope will pay off in spades down the line.

That’s why Chalkbeat has teamed up with the Indianapolis Star to bring you a series of stories on early childhood education in our state.

Today, we’re kicking off the series with an in-depth look at Indiana’s efforts to make preschool more widely available. Five counties still don’t have any pre-K programs that the state considers to be high-quality. These gaps in access, paired with high tuition and low state investment, mean that whether your 3- or 4-year-old attends prekindergarten — and how good the experience is — can often largely depend on where you live and how much money you make.

Thanks for reading.

— Stephanie Wang, bureau chief

Rise & Shine is Chalkbeat’s morning digest of education news. Subscribe to have it delivered to your inbox.

GAPS IN ACCESS: Indiana has taken some small steps to help its neediest families afford pre-K, but advocates say the state has barely made a dent in improving early childhood access. Chalkbeat

ABUSE SETTLEMENT: The Indianapolis Public School Board paid out nearly $600,000 to settle lawsuits surrounding accusations that a former guidance counselor sexually abused two students. IndyStar

VIRTUAL CONNECTION: Students at rural schools with few academic counselors are turning to virtual advisers as they prepare for college admissions. Hechinger Report

STUDENT RIGHTS: An LGBTQ community coalition asked the Evansville Vanderburgh School Board to expand protections for students of all gender identities and sexual orientations Monday, days after a court ruled the district’s bathroom policy violated a transgender student’s civil rights.  Courier & Press

SCOUTS FOR SCIENCE: The Girl Scouts of Central Indiana are on a mission to rally a community around what could be Indy’s first all-girls charter school with a science-focused curriculum. IndyStar

TEENS AND E-CIGARETTES: Carmel City Council members are considering a wider e-cigarette ban in public spaces after reports of “rampant” teen smoking at Carmel High School. WISH-TV