Welcome to Wednesday, a good day to talk about early childhood education.

  • Results from the state's third-grade literacy exam will be released later today, telling us how many Hoosier students are hitting the pivotal benchmark of learning to read.

β˜€οΈ Today's weather: Sunny, finally, with a high near 80Β°.

  • A great day to hit up the Indiana State Fair, which is in its last week.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Situational awareness: Presidential candidate and former governor Mike Pence will address a closed gathering of state lawmakers from around the country at the Indiana Convention Center this morning.

Today's newsletter is 911 words β€” a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Lindsey Erdody and copy edited by Bill Kole.

1 big thing: Crouch calls for universal pre-K

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch is all in on universal pre-K.

Driving the news: Crouch told Axios yesterday that if she is elected governor next year she would push lawmakers to move Indiana's state-funded pre-K program, On My Way Pre-K, toward universal access more quickly.

  • "We can't get there overnight because, quite honestly, we don't have the infrastructure or the people to be able to do that," she said. "But I think, because of the importance of early childhood education to the workforce of today and tomorrow, it's important that we work towards that."

Why it matters: A high-quality pre-kindergarten experience leads to better academic outcomes as children move through school.

Catch up fast: Crouch is one of four Republicans seeking the GOP nomination in next year's gubernatorial primary.

  • She has long been invested in the state's early childhood education system, co-authoring legislation in 2013 to establish the pilot program that aimed to provide access to high-quality pre-kindergarten experiences for kids from low-income families.
  • She was serving as state auditor the following year when the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation to create the On My Way Pre-K program.

State of play: It's now available to qualified families in all 92 counties, but barriers to participation β€” work requirements, too few high-quality providers β€” have limited uptake.

Yes, but: Some counties had zero participants.

  • Approximately 80,000 children will enter kindergarten this school year.

Zoom out: More states are moving toward universal pre-K.

  • Ten states and Washington, D.C., have implemented universal preschool or at least have a universal preschool policy in place, if not yet fully implemented.
  • Four more states β€” California, Colorado, Hawaii and New Mexico β€” passed laws to provide universal preschool in the past year.

The other side

2. πŸ₯Έ Boomers make the rules

Share of overall U.S. population and 118th Congress, by generation
Note: Overall U.S. data based on 2021 resident population estimates; Includes non-voting Congress members; Data: Quorum, U.S. Census Bureau, Axios research; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

Baby Boomers make up nearly half of Congress β€” despite that generation representing just 21% of the American population, according to data from Quorum.

  • Indiana's delegation is slightly younger than the congressional average β€”Β but still 17 years older than the state population.

Why it matters: The post-World War II generation has disproportionate control over U.S. policymaking, including emerging technologies like AI and social media.

Zoom in: 4 of the 11 members of Indiana's congressional delegation are Baby Boomers or older, including Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Braun and Reps. Jim Baird, Greg Pence and Larry Bucshon.

  • The delegation's average age is 55.
  • Rep. Rudy Yakym is the youngest, at age 39.

Reality check: Indiana's median age in 2021 was 38, according to the state.

The big picture: The average age of 58 for members in this congressional term is one of the oldest in U.S. history, spurring debates about fitness for office, term limits and ageism, Axios' April Rubin writes.

The intrigue: One in five Americans are members of Gen Z, but only the oldest of this generation meet the House of Representatives' minimum age requirement of 25.

3. Pit stop: State denies honor for Bernard

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

πŸ›‘ A state commission blocked Caitlin Bernard, the Indiana doctor who spoke out about providing an abortion for an Ohio 10-year-old, from being considered for a prestigious Torchbearer award this year because of a reprimand she received from the state Medical Licensing Board after Attorney General Todd Rokita brought a case against her.

⬆️ David Rosenberg is the next CEO of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., succeeding Brad Chambers, who announced the end of his two-year tenure last month.

  • Rosenberg had been chief operating officer for the quasi-public agency and formerly served in Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's administration and as operations officer at Indianapolis Public Schools. (IBJ)

🏈 The Indianapolis Colts named Anthony Richardson as the starting quarterback for the 2023 season, after just one preseason game. (WRTV)

4. 🐢 Creature feature: Meet Chip!

Can you believe this smile could be ALL yours?! Photos: Courtesy of Indianapolis Animal Care Services

Welcome to Creature Feature, where we introduce you to an Indianapolis pet available for adoption.

🐾 Chip here!

Not to brag, but I'm a favorite at the shelter.

De-tails: I've been at IACS for the last four months, through no fault of my own!

  • I'm 2 years old and 69 pounds β€”Β a gentle giant.
  • I already know how to sit and wait patiently for a treat.

What they're barking: IACS staff says I'm just a friendly, lovable guy who would love to meet you.

  • It is unknown how I do with kids, other dogs or cats so we'd need a slow, proper introduction.

Of note: IACS is offering free adoptions for the rest of August as part of the National Clear the Shelters campaign.

Dig deeper: See Chip and more pets available at IACS and fill out an adoption application online.

Tell a friend about Chip!

5. πŸ’ 1 canned cocktail to go

The Taproom at the fairgrounds is a good spot to cool off and grab a drink. Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

We told you about new foods at the Indiana State Fair, but that's not all that's new this year.

Driving the news: Hi & Mighty, a distillery based at the state fairgrounds, released a new canned cocktail for this year's fair.

  • Cherry ShakeUp is a gin-based spin on a fair classic β€” the lemon shake-up.

πŸ’­ Arika's thought bubble: I found it super refreshing for a hot day at the fair without being too sweet, but I've heard that some people don't like gin. If that's you, you may not love it.

Cost: $12.

If you go: The state fair runs through Sunday.

  • Cherry ShakeUp can be found at all fairground bars: The taproom, wine garden and Backyard Brats & Brews.

Our picks:

πŸ‘΅πŸ» Arika is remembering the time a Gen Z friend asked if she ever owned a pager. (She did not).

🌽 Lindsey is finally going to the state fair!

🫢 James is on parental leave.