Preschool Cuts Criticized

Article excerpt

Byline: Kerry Lester

Cuts to preschool programs could affect as many as 6,205 suburban children, a group of law enforcement officials said Thursday.

Decrying Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed 2011 budget, members of Fight Crime Invest in Kids Illinois released a compilation of research pointing to the savings in prison costs gained by early childhood education.

With $1.4 billion a year now being spent on corrections in Illinois, the group claims that increasing access to preschool for high-risk kids and adding components that address behavior problems could eventually cut prison costs by $350 million a year. How long that might take, however, the group didn't say.

Research released Thursday was gathered by the organization from a number of national studies, as well as Illinois preschool and corrections data.

It included the 2005 Perry Preschool Study, The National Institute of Early Education Research's State of Preschool 2008, and the Pew Center's 2009 study, Behind Bars in America.

"Preschool is just as much about social development as it is about education," Mundelein Police Chief Ray Rose said during a Thursday news conference. "... Aggressive and anti-social behavior are what we're seeing on the street. If we're able to educate kids and their families at an early age, we're educating society at large."

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois is a local chapter of the national anti-crime organization. Statewide, more than 300 police chiefs, sheriffs, state's attorneys and crime victims are members. …