State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, was named Monday as co-chair of the Governor’s Commission for Equitable Funding for Early Childhood Education and Care by Illinois Gov. J.B Pritzker.
The commission will make recommendations on how to fund equitable access to high-quality early childhood education and care services for all children birth to age 5.
“Governor Pritzker has demonstrated real commitment to early education, and I’m confident that the commission can find a data-driven early childhood education financing plan that meets that needs of families in every region of the state and enables every child to benefit from a high-quality preschool experience,” Manar said.
Manar, who engineered the state’s historic Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) reform for K-12 schools in 2017, has long advocated equitable funding for early childhood education programs.
The commission will build on the state’s record investment of $100 million in early childhood education in the fiscal year 2020 budget, which will provide pre-K to 14,000 children across Illinois.
Manar was a vocal critic of the Rauner administration’s decision last year to cut all pre-K funding for dozens of schools across Central and Southern Illinois with no warning and little explanation. The move, which forced some schools to suspend their pre-K programs indefinitely, is something Manar says should never happen again.
“Changes made by the previous administration left entire counties in downstate Illinois without a single state-funded pre-K program. We’ve done a good job reversing some of those harmful changes, but we still have work to do,” Manar said. “A primary goal of this commission is to correct a broken system and propose a new, fair funding formula just like we did for K-12.”
The 29-member commission – consisting of child care providers, advocates, educators and legislators – will be led by co-chairs Manar, former State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, Deputy Illinois Governor Jesse Ruiz, and former Illinois Early Learning Council member George Davis.