Mayor Expands, Overhauls Early Childhood Education Programs

Five thousand more youngsters will ultimately have access to early childhood education programs under an expansion beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Friday.

The ultimate goal is to increase the graduation rate at Chicago high schools.

"If you get them at 3, you get them at 4. On their first full day of first grade, they'll be ready to read. They'll be ready to write. They'll be ready for math," Emanuel said during the Chicago Summer Business Institute graduation at the Harold Washington Library.

The city says about 37,000 children between the ages three and four are enrolled in City-funded ECE programs but that they vary in quality. The three-year investment hopes to improve and standardize the programs made available to young people.

To do that, the city is wiping the slate clean, so to speak, and inviting providers to reapply for funding. Expectations and applications are posted on the City of Chicago website.

In a press release announcing the endeavor, the city said students who attend a high-quality ECE program are 29 percent more likely to graduate from high school.

"From the cradle to college, we are investing in high-quality options for our children," Emanuel said in the statement.

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