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