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For Immediate Release
February 27, 2006

Illinois State Board of Education member Andrea Brown, advocacy groups call for Preschool for All approval

CARBONDALE -- Illinois State Board of Education member Andrea Brown joined with advocacy group leaders at Parrish School in Carbondale today to call for legislative approval of Governor Rod Blagojevich’s Preschool for All program.

The goal of Preschool for All is to reach the thousands of children who do not have access to quality preschool programs because they are not categorized as “at risk” and cannot afford quality private programs. The program is entirely voluntary, but we anticipate that a majority of parents will want their children to participate.

All school districts and qualified community-based programs are eligible to apply for Preschool for All funds. The first phase will encompass $45 million a year for the next three years to provide preschool to 32,000 additional four-year-olds and at-risk three-year-olds, expand opportunities for at-risk infants and toddlers, and improve quality and accountability of our programs.

Preschool for All will make Illinois the first state in the union to offer preschool to all three- and four-year-olds. Children who go to preschool are less likely to need special education, more likely to graduate high school, less likely to encounter the juvenile justice system, and will earn more money as adults.

Many of these new classrooms will be opened in community-based settings that can help our schools get the most out of their own limited facilities. These programs will be held to the same high standards as our school-based programs. Preschool for All will fund a 2.5 hour day up to five days a week.

“Teachers can clearly see the difference – children who get preschool are better prepared to succeed when they start kindergarten – socially, emotionally and cognitively. In 2002, 59 percent of children who took part in the State Pre-Kindergarten program for at-risk children met or exceeded ISAT standards for reading at the 3rd and 5th grades,” said Brown, quoting the 2003 ISBE PreK Evaluation Report.

During the three-year Preschool for All roll out phase to begin in July, ISBE will pursue an “at-risk first” expansion strategy until all four-year-olds and at-risk three-year-olds are served. In 2009, Governor Blagojevich will ask the General Assembly for additional funds to offer preschool to all 3-year-olds.

With more than 45 years of Illinois education experience, Brown most recently served as Regional Superintendent for Alexander-Johnson-Massac-Pulaski-Union Counties from 1994 to 2003. She also has experience at the district level working in the Cairo Unit School District, first as a special education and elementary teacher and later as superintendent. She began her teaching career in 1957 in Olmsted.

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