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State of Illinois - Governor Blagojevich 

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For Immediate Release
April 21, 2005

Gov. Blagojevich’s pre-school expansion efforts receive national recognition

National report calls Governor a “Pre-K budget hero”

SPRINGFIELD – A national report released today praises Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich for his continued commitment to expanding pre-school access in Illinois. Despite unprecedented budget deficits, Gov. Blagojevich has made a strong financial commitment to early childhood education, with increases of more than 30 percent over the last two years. The Governor’s proposal for FY 2006 is the third year of a three-year $90 million plan to significantly increase access to state pre-school in Illinois.

The report, Leadership Matters: Governor’s FY 2006 Pre-K Proposals, was released today by Pre-K Now, a national organization. The report described Governor Blagojevich as a “Pre-K budget hero” for continuing his push for pre-school expansion despite difficult financial conditions.

“This is fitting recognition for Governor Blagojevich, who has shown a unique commitment to expanding pre-school in Illinois,” said State Board of Education Chairman Jesse Ruiz. “Thousands of children and working families will reap lifelong benefits because they have access to pre-school classes that this funding created. Early childhood education is the most important investment we can make in the future of our state.”

This is the second time in the last six months that Illinois has received national recognition for its leadership in early childhood education. In November, 2004, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) released its 2004 State Pre-School Yearbook, which ranked Illinois as one of the top three states for program quality. Illinois received praise for its teacher training as one of only 13 states to require certification for its early childhood teachers.

Pre-K Now collaborates with advocates and policymakers to lead a movement for high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten for all three and four year olds and works to raise public awareness about the need for high-quality pre-kindergarten for all children. The organization’s vision is a nation in which every child enters kindergarten prepared to succeed.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777