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Working as a part-time preschool assistant, I see the impact early childhood education has on children and families. Children have the ability to develop their literacy, mathematics and social skills before entering kindergarten. They can explore the world around them and express their creativity through the world of play.

That is why it was so exciting to see the Chicago step up with a plan to create universal, full-day pre-K available for all the children of Chicago, regardless of family income.

We know that by kindergarten, kids without access to early childhood education are up to 18 months behind their peers, hear 30 million less words that their peers, and will struggle to catch-up. Unfortunately, most never do.

By stepping up to meet this challenge, theChicago is telling kids that they are all important, no matter how much their family earns or what neighborhood they are from. Now it is time for Illinois to follow suit. Early education is too important to be given to some, but not others. Rural, small town and big city kids need access to pre-K.

It is time to ask our candidates for Congress and governor: Do all of our children deserve the same start in life and the same opportunity to succeed?

Andrea Gilleran, Normal

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