PEORIA, Ill. – Governor JB Pritzker makes a return trip to Peoria — this time to talk about one of the key proposals he made in his budget address last week.
Pritzker used Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Center Tuesday to talk about his “Smart Start” initiative — where he wants to expand child care and early childhood education availability throughout the state.
“It’s a multi-year investment that will provide every three- and four-year-old with access to a pre-school program like this one,” said Pritzker.
Pritzker says that would include adding $250 million in programs, and another $100 million for facilities. He says that will lead to the administrators at Valeska Hinton getting the staff and support they deserve.
Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, District 150 Superintendent, says early childhood education has proven its worth in Peoria.
“We have observed that Pre-K students who get a jump start on reading are usually ahead of their peers who wait until Kindergarten to start school,” said Kherat. “Getting started early is amazing.”
Pritzker ackhowledged getting enough people to fill early childhood and child care jobs has been a problem, and raising the minimum wage — as the state has done each of the last several years — may not be enough.
“We’re looking to, first, raise wages for people in child care to $17 to $19 to begin with,” said Pritzker. “We need people who want to stay in the industry, can stay in the industry, with the wages that are being provided.”
Pritzker says that’s compared to the lower wages prior to his first term that led many to get better paying jobs. But he says the other piece of the puzzle is more training — but that should also include better pay, so that teachers can afford to get the higher-level degrees needed for the jobs.
Pritzker also commented on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis going to the Chicago area to campaign Monday night ahead of a potential Presidential bid in 2024. He says he didn’t hear the speach DeSantis made, but read about it.
“What he’s done in Florida is to try to have the government intervene, to a large degree, in the quality of the education, type of education that people are getting, that will lower it. I think teachers are worthy of investing in.”
Pritzker claims Illinois is ranked higher in most studies related to education than Florida is. What’s more, he says unlike Florida, Illinois should not be doing things like banning books.
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February 21, 2023 at 05:05PM