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CHICAGO—Early learning and child care advocates—all members of Bright Futures Chicago, a coalition advocating for universal child care and early childhood education access—will stand with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and Chicago aldermen during a 10 a.m. press conference Thursday, Feb. 11, to reveal the flaws in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s announcement of an expansion of the city’s pre-K early learning program.

The mayor recently proposed an expansion of full-day pre-kindergarten to approximately 1,000 additional children by the 2017-18 school year—an alleged 60 percent increase from 2011. Calling the announcement a “PR stunt” to divert attention from his dismantling of public education through budget cuts and layoffs, advocates said the mayor’s plan to fund the conversion of existing half-day slots to full-day is being paid for, in part, through an additional $1 million cut from Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

Support for such a plan, they say, means supporting additional cuts from the K-12 public schools program. Bright Futures members will highlight the absurdity of the mayor touting the educational benefits of early childhood education that are paid for by further shortchanging the future educational needs of those same children.

“The mayor claims he is expanding access, but next year’s plan does not create new slots for additional families,” said CTU organizer and CPS pre-K parent Matthew Luskin. “The plan instead converts existing half-day slots into full-day slots, so his announcement falls far short of any meaningful closing of the city’s gaping hole in early learning slots, which currently serve less than 25 percent of the city’s children in need of early learning access with quality, full-day programs.”

Pointing to maneuvers by mayoral allies in the Chicago City Council to sideline a push to use surplus tax increment financing (TIF) funds to fund education, advocates say the Emanuel administration is using pre-K and child care access as nothing more than a diversionary public relations tool, and lack a true commitment to working for the progressive revenue these programs require.

WHO:

Chicago Teachers Union members, Bright Futures Chicago Coalition, Chicago aldermen

WHAT:

Press conference to unveil the truth behind Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s alleged expansion of Pre-K early learning slots

WHEN:

Thursday, February 11, 2016, 10 a.m.

WHERE:

Chicago City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St. 2nd Floor