National security and preschool learning

Posted9/21/2018 1:00 AM

After reading "Only 1 in 4 kindergartners really ready for school, survey shows," I am troubled by the impact on our national security and support more investments in early childhood programs that help children succeed in school and later in life.

As a retired U.S. Army major general, I think it is imperative that we do everything we can to improve the kindergarten readiness and overall educational, behavioral and physical qualifications of our young Illinoisans.


The fact is, military service is not an option for 70 percent of our state's 17- to 24-year-olds. The leading reasons are because they lack the necessary education, are too overweight or have a record of crime or drug use.

Thankfully, research demonstrates we can find answers to these challenges.

Children in child care and preschool programs are better positioned for school success. One study of 1,300 children found that those in higher-quality child care were better prepared for school at age 4 than their peers in lower-quality care. In the same study, children in higher-quality programs demonstrated significantly lower levels of behavioral problems at age 15 than those in lower-quality programs.

Make no mistake, our future national security and military preparedness depend on what's happening in our preschool classrooms today. For that reason, Illinois leaders should continue to prioritize expanded support for preschool and child care assistance for low-income working families.

Investing in early childhood care and education programs today will help more young Illinoisans grow up ready for kindergarten and prepared to do the most important work of our nation -- whether in or out of uniform.

James M. Milano


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