* From a press release…
Today, in a speech at the Young Achievers Academy, JB Pritzker released his five-point plan to expand early childhood education in Illinois. JB was joined by Zuli Turner, the President of the Young Achievers Academy and a leading provider of early childhood educational services on the South Side of Chicago. Read the full plan here.
JB’s proposal outlines what he will do as governor to build a comprehensive birth-to-five educational system so every child has the opportunity to achieve their full potential. The plan is an extension of JB’s lifelong passion and over twenty years of advocacy for increasing access to high-quality early education:
Ensure every child participates in kindergarten by lowering the compulsory school age from 6 to 5 years old.
Put Illinois on a path towards universal preschool for 3 and 4-year-olds, starting with the children who would benefit the most.
Increase access to the Child Care Assistance Program by raising income eligibility to 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and creating an exit ramp at 300% of the FPL, which will allow working parents to increase their wages without losing assistance.
Expand birth-to-three services and create a new ‘Family Engagement Portal’ that will provide every new and expecting parent with comprehensive information about child development.
Invest in adding more teachers and classrooms so we can build capacity to make a universal early childhood system a reality.
“I’ve spent my whole life fighting for early childhood education, and that won’t stop when I get to Springfield,” said JB Pritzker. “That’s why I’m so grateful to be here at Young Achievers Academy. I’m grateful to be in a room full of people I know share a common goal — we want to set our children up for success and give them the tools they need to build better lives. I am proposing this plan because I believe there is no greater investment we can make in our children and our middle-class families than early childhood education.”
All five of those points are fleshed out more on his website. So click here if this interests you.
* What’s missing, however, is a cost estimate. I asked for one and was told it’s $210 million. Here’s the breakdown…
* Lower compulsory school age: About $50 million per year to help 5,000 kindergarten-age kids who don’t currently go to kindergarten.
* Universal preschool: First year is $95 million for about 16,400 kids. But it would rise exponentially as more kids are covered.
* CCAP: $53 million, assuming the governor returns the program to 185 percent of FPL as he’s said he would do. The increase would benefit about 10,500 kids.
* Expand birth-to-three: $7 million for about 160,000 children.
* More teachers: $5 million to provide $10,000 in financial incentives for about 500 prospective teachers, which would eventually benefit about 20,000 kids per year.
There’s also a capital component, but they don’t have a cost estimate and say it wouldn’t be funded through GRF.