A recent study found about 80,000 students attended government subsidized pre-K programs in Illinois last school year. 95,000 participated just three years before that. Gaylord Gieseke is president of Voices for Illinois Children, the group behind the report.
She says the state’s fiscal crisis results in a lack of funding for such programs … which in turn affect students for the rest of their lives.
"The rhythm of reading stimulates their brains. As they grow, you add in the socializing with children and how to behave in group settings, and how to follow instructions, and how to sit still.”
The report also says Illinois public schools rely too heavily on local property taxes, which leads to inequity among schools.
Gieseke says she’s unsure of what will happen in the future … though state money to local school districts has been cut more than $300 million dollars in the last six years.
Illinois Public Radio's Chris Slaby and Jim Meadows contributed to this report.