Getting an Early Start on Education

Getting an Early Start on Education
By: Arnold Wyrick

Murphysboro, IL - How important is it for 3 and 4-year-olds to be in preschool? According to Illinois' Governor Rod Blagojevich it's very important to the future of the state.

The Governor is proposing a plan called 'Preschool for All', and it would entitle every 3 and 4-year-old child in the state to go to preschool, no matter what their parents financial situation may be.
"I think it's wonderful that we can get more kids to be involved," says Linda Barnett Director of Big Top Daycare and Preschool in Murphysboro, IL.
Under the Governor's plan the state would kick in $45,000,000 each year over a 3 year period to get the program up and running.
"I think it's very important that they don't fall through the cracks. A lot of kids they stay home they don't get together with other kids and play. Just learning to play together is as important, as learning their basic colors, or writing their name by the time they get to Kindergarten," says Preschool Teacher Nancy Ellison.
If the General Assembly approves the Governor's plan it could put a lot more kids in preschool classrooms. Early estimates put the number of eligible kids at 190,000.
"They need to have social interaction, that's the most important thing for them to learn before Kindergarten. Because all these kids are going to be in Kindergarten next year. I feel it's important for them to learn the basics, and social interaction so they can excel next year," says Preschool Teacher Christina Vanzandt.
The thought of class sizes doubling and possibly even tripling in some preschools is no worry for the folks at Big Top. They say they'll welcome the new students with open arms.
"It might mean that more centers would have to open, we would have to enlarge. But I think it's very important that this age group that they have someplace to go," Ellison said.
So where will the Governor come up with the millions of dollars to pay for this program? That question should be answered on Wednesday, when he'll deliver his State of the Budget address in Springfield.