Business leaders call for more early education funding

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois business leaders say they want the state to invest more money in early education to meet the demands of a growing job market centered on math and science.

Business leaders said Wednesday they support Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan to increase preschool funding to about $393 million, an increase of $75 million from last year. Illinois risks losing federal money for early education programs without a budget. This year’s should have taken effect July 1.

Supporters say investing in early education would boost student math and science skills and strengthen the state’s workforce later on. They predict 37,000 science and technology jobs in Illinois by 2020.

A National Assessment of Educational Progress report shows only 32 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math and 26 percent in science.

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