Jury still out on Emanuel preschool expansion plans
Unlike any Chicago mayor before him, Rahm Emanuel has made the expansion of quality early childhood education programs a focal point of his agenda.
He lengthened the official kindergarten school day, centralized the preschool application process, diverted some city revenue to make up for a loss in state and federal funding, and, earlier this month, announced that the city would borrow millions of dollars through a so-called “social impact bond” to temporarily increase the number of slots in the city’s heralded child-parent centers.
By next year, Emanuel says, the city will be able to offer at least a half-day of preschool to all low-income children.
“If you’re a child of a parent that is basically described as poor, or lower, you will have universal preschool for that 4-year-old,” Emanuel told a room full of bank executives last week. “So when it comes time for kindergarten, we are going to be able to make sure every child in the city of Chicago – not just our children – but every child in the city of Chicago at the age of 4 will have preschool education […]so that when they get to kindergarten and go to those seven-hour days, they are ready.”
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