Gov. Pat Quinn
Updated: March 21, 2013 6:27AM
Thank you for highlighting the fact that “Preschool Works” in a Feb. 18 editorial. As the head of an organization that has spent years advocating for improved access to quality preschool for at-risk youth, I’m pleased to see that the proverbial “choir” around this issue has expanded: More Americans, including President Barack Obama, are embracing the very real academic, economic and societal benefits of quality early childhood education.
Your editorial presented a healthy balance of aspiration and reality. As the president outlines an ambitious plan to pump federal dollars into an infrastructure to provide preschool for all 4-year-olds, the current reality is that just 3 in 10 are enrolled in a quality program. When we look at the numbers for Latino students — one of the fastest-growing demographics in our state — the disparities are even more stark: Just 1 in 3 Illinois Latino students are enrolled in any preschool program, let alone a quality one, compared to two-thirds of other children, according to research from UC-Berkeley.
The reasons for this are as complex, but access remains a core challenge: There simply aren’t enough slots or preschool facilities in predominately Latino ZIP codes. Recent funding victories — including a $45 million Early Childhood Construction Program grant, which will provide preschool access to an additional 1,200 Illinois children, many in Latino communities — represent an important step forward. But state-level fiscal woes, education funding shortfalls and looming citywide school closures threaten to push us two steps behind.
At a time when enrollment realities are much more modest than our aspirations, we must expand quality, access and investments in all our youngest learners.
Latino Policy Forum
Keep prisons open
We read weekly about individuals who have been released early from prison who are involved in shootings. Yet Gov. Pat Quinn continues to shutter prisons. How high does the body count have to go before Quinn realizes he must not attempt to save money by allowing violent prisoners to be released before they have served their full sentences?
Larry Casey, Forest Glen
Purchasing a seat in Congress
So an Illinois a governor can’t buy or sell an elected official’s seat, but a New York mayor can? It’s apparent New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is spending millions to influence the outcome of the 2nd Congressional race here, learned early that by simply picking a cause, forming a political action committee and having enough money to burn you can purchase a seat legally!
I’ll bet Rod Blagojevich wishes he had learned that lesson sooner.
It’s so sad that Illinois voters are willing to turn a blind eye to what Bloomberg is doing.
Ron Dimitrakopoulos Sr., Downers Grove
Day in and day out, I read about gang violence and the nation’s large deficit. Why can’t lawmakers see that legalizing marijuana would cut down on gang violence? The gangs no longer would be selling the drug. At the same time, the federal government could tax it. I am not a smoker myself, but I don’t view marijuana as any worse than drinking alcohol.
Tiffany Vanick, Chicago