The City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools are expanding access to early childhood education, according to a Tuesday announcement.
Some 1,500 4-year-olds that qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program will be able attend pre-K courtesy of a "$9.4 million capital investment by 10 neighborhood schools, as well as a $4.5 million state capital grant to support new community based programs, and Social Impact Bonds," according to a release from the mayor's office.
“A budget is a reflection of our values as a city. Every child in the City of Chicago should have access to pre-K, regardless of neighborhood or family income," Emanuel said in the press release. “In Chicago, high-quality pre-k and kindergarten is not the exception, it is the expectation. This will provide all of our students with the foundational learning necessary to take them on to college, career, and a successful future.”
The increased access will primarily impact South and West Side schools, "where there is the greatest need." Emanuel will make mention of the extra education funding in his budget address planned for later this month.
"Early childhood education helps create a strong foundation that benefits students throughout their entire education,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “By investing in our children’s futures early on, we can eliminate the need and cost for additional educational supports, while ensuring students are ready to learn in kindergarten when they come through our doors.”
The increased access to pre-K comes after the Chicago Teachers Union and education activists made a call back in August for universal, full-day preschool for children under the age of 5.