an independent Tea Party group in DuPage County, IL
This morning I heard that Quin's upcoming budget includes an expansion of state funded pre-school.
The following is from a letter I wrote to my state rep (Michael Connely) also sent to the Daily Herald as a letter to the editor.
In Quinn's state-of-the-state (2/1/2012) he said something about expanding the state's early childhood education (preschool) program. Are-you-kidding-me? In case they actually try this, I thought you should be armed with a few facts. A few months ago I was talking with a neighbor who has worked as a part time preschool teacher at the Wheaton Park district for years.
She told that the number of preschool participants in the Park District program as well as private preschool programs is way down because our public schools now offer pres-K which is “Free” for many students. As a result the park district has less staff & staff working fewer hours. She also told me that the Park district staff is paid about $12/hr part-time, no benefits.
I decided to look up my local school district (CUSD200, Wheaton/Warrenville). I downloaded the cusd 200, data base for 2010 from family taxpayer foundation into an excel spread sheet. There are 14 listed as "Early Childhood (Self-Contained Pre-K)." Three have Baccalaureate, eleven have Masters. Highest salary is $92,473. Their pay is based on years of service, education level and perhaps extra for extra duties. One is only 1/2 days and another 1/2 year, the rest are full time for 10 months. If I treat the sum of those two part-timers as one full time position... the mean salary is $64,903. This is thirteen full time teaching positions for Pre-K and that does not count administrators in the school.
If you take the average year pay $64,903 and assume 180 days/year at 8 hr/day that comes out to $45/hr plus benefits (pension and health care) which is far better than a private preschool (or park district – pays $12/hr) offers.
By offering preschool in the school district we are paying teachers about 4 times more than we were paying for park district preschool. Are we taxpayers getting our money worth? Are the students better prepared for Kindergarten now compared to prior to this state program? I know I once read that Head Start programs were controversial because while low-income students who attended Head start are better prepared when they start school, there is no difference between those who were in vs. not-in the program after a couple years of school.
Rolling back the state’s funding and mandates for Pre-K education would help the state financially with little if any negative effect on the children. “Investing” more money in it as Pat Quinn suggested would simply be digging our financial hole deeper.