News

For Immediate Release
April 18, 2007

National Group Names Blagojevich “Standout Pre-K Champion”


Report recognizes Illinois’ governor for his “singular vision” for early childhood education

(Washington, DC) – Governor Rod Blagojevich leads the nation in pre-k investment, according to Leadership Matters: Governors’ Pre-K Proposals Fiscal Year 2008, a report released today by Pre-K Now. The report finds that of the record-breaking 29 state executives proposing funding increases in FY08, Gov. Blagojevich is leading the way by following through on his commitment to provide high-quality pre-k to every three and four year old. The governor has proposed an increase of $61.8 million for FY08 which, if approved, will provide pre-k access to 12,000 additional children in Illinois.

Governor Blagojevich signed his landmark Preschool for All initiative into law in August 2006, establishing Illinois as the first state to make all three and four year olds eligible for state-funded pre-k. He has also significantly increased early childhood programming for children ages birth to five in each of his first five years in office. In addition to expanding to the pre-k program, his FY08 budget includes $7.6 million for programs to support at-risk infants and toddlers, as well as an additional $10 million in capital funding to address facilities needs.

“Gov. Blagojevich has proven yet again that pre-k plays a vital role in his forward-thinking leadership strategy for Illinois,” said Libby Doggett, Ph.D., executive director of Pre-K Now. “For him, pre-k is not simply a children’s issue; the governor’s commitment to pre-k for every three and four year old demonstrates his commitment to the future of Illinois.”

In recognition of the essential role that governors play in laying the fiscal and political groundwork for their state agendas, Pre-K Now has analyzed gubernatorial support – measured by mentions in state-of-the-state addresses and budget allocations - for pre-k across the 50 states since 2004. As a national trend, support for pre-k continues to gain momentum; FY08 marks the fourth consecutive year of proposed pre-k funding increases. The report also calls attention to governors who failed to follow through on campaign promises or otherwise missed a vital opportunity to benefit children and invest in the future.

Additional report findings include:

FY08 proposals for new pre-k dollars total 3 times the proposed increases of just one year ago.

“We are fortunate to work with a governor who understands that Preschool for All is the essential first step to improving K-12 education,” said Jerry Stermer, president of Voices for Illinois Children who along with Illinois Action for Children and the Ounce of Prevention Fund work together as Early Learning Illinois in support of high quality early learning programs. “Communities across Illinois are already seeing the benefits of better prepared students. Gov. Blagojevich and the Illinois legislature are to be commended for making our state a national model for early childhood education.”

To view a copy of the report, please visit: http://www.preknow.org

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Pre-K Now collaborates with state advocates and policymakers to lead a movement for high-quality pre-kindergarten for all three and four year olds. The following funders contribute to making this important work possible: The Pew Charitable Trusts, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Foundation for Child Development, RGK Foundation, CityBridge Foundation, PNC Financial Services Group, and the Schumann Fund for New Jersey.