The chairman of the state Board of Education is making a pitch to restore pre-school funding. State funding for early childhood education has fallen over the last two years from $380 million to $300 million – a 21 percent drop – eliminating the opportunity for 20,000 children. State Board of Education Chairman Gery Chico says the lack of pre-school sets some students back to such an extent that they never recover.

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“When you don’t give pre-school services, the chance that children who are in poverty, minority, otherwise at risk, not succeeding goes dramatically up, and that means that we pay in all kinds of ways,” he said.

Those ways include increased social service costs, increase costs in the justice system, both juvenile and adult, and less economic productivity from that individual over a lifetime.

Chico says pre-school is where to start addressing the problem of the fall-off in educational performance in Illinois from elementary school to high school. He is asking state lawmakers to restore funding.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio/