Today, CPS took a dramatic step toward putting every child from every community in the District on a better path to success in school and life.
In conjunction with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced an expansion of the District's Full Day Kindergarten program – a decision that will give all 30,700 students entering CPS next fall a distinct advantage as they begin their academic careers.
"As a mother, grandmother and former teacher, I know investing in our children at an early age is critical," said CEO Byrd-Bennett. "I made universal full-day kindergarten a priority for our schools because frankly our children cannot afford to wait. We must invest our resources in smart ways that provide every student in every school with a full education from the very first moment they walk through our doors."
Studies have shown that students who attend a quality full day kindergarten demonstrate strong academic advantages in later grades, as they are given early opportunities to develop cognitive, social and emotional skills while exploring independent learning and classroom involvement and productivity. By contrast, students who do not have access to full day kindergarten often start school far behind their peers – a problem that is particularly evident in urban environments like Chicago. The commitment to universal full day kindergarten works to close this achievement gap so that Chicago's next generation of students will have the strong academic foundation they need and deserve.
"Every single child deserves to have a high quality education that will prepare them to succeed in life. That can't happen if they are behind their peers across the nation when they enter first grade," said Mayor Emanuel. "Guaranteeing full-day kindergarten for the first time gives every student a full education from the very start. From early learning on up through college, we are making smart, critical investments that support our students' bright futures."
Beginning next fall, every CPS elementary school in every neighborhood will offer full day kindergarten. This expansion builds on CPS' unprecedented investment in early-childhood education – a commitment that has increased by 50 percent since 2011, with 6,000 kindergarten seats added to the District in 2012 alone. This program, which will be funded through more effective management of engineering contracts and increased energy savings, will ensure that all CPS students are given access to the well-rounded, high-quality education they deserve from the very day they are welcomed into the District.