Pre-K more important than ever, educators and advocates say
QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -
A group in Illinois is pushing to emphasize the importance of pre-Kindergarten classes.
Union County State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds is co-chairman of "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois." As a prosecutor in his hometown, he tells IRN Radio that it's difficult prosecuting people he knew when they were little kids. He says this program is a push to make sure kids get the building blocks to become model citizens and stay away from crime.
"Unfortunately, when you start school without the social skills, without the math skills, without the reading skills" that preschool can provide, Edmonds told IRN Radio, "You very quickly fall behind. You very quickly develop anti-social behaviors. We can spend dimes and, hopefully, steer them on the right path, rather than spend thousands upon thousands of dollars" in the police, court, and prison systems."
However, that's sometimes easier said than done. With continued cuts to education, local pre-K programs are struggling, as kids sit on waiting lists just to get into local pre-K programs.
More than 75 kids are on a waiting list at Quincy's Early Childhood Center, including Amber Edmondson's 4-year-old daughter who she says has been on the waiting list for almost two years.
"I hope it doesn't delay her learning ability when she starts kindergarten," Edmondson said.
When kids start kindergarten without the social, math and reading skills typically learned in preschool, Director of the Early Childhood Center Julie Schuckman says they're more likely to fall behind.
"They learn how to be part of a group, how to stand in a line and how to separate from the parents and be away for a couple hours, along with those readiness skills that we consider academic," Schuckman said.
Like all of those other parents with kids on the waiting list, Edmondson is left to her own devices in order to ensure her daughter is on the same page as the rest of the kids her age.
"She just learned how to write her name. We write on notebooks. We write on flashcards," Edmondson said. "I think it's really important for the kids to get the schooling that they need."
The 'Invest in Kids Illinois' program, which is made up of law enforcement organizations, is looking to spend more money on pre-K programs. They say cutting money from these programs will result in higher crime rates and increased law enforcement costs in the future.