A Collaboration that works

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It is often said, usually just before nothing is done, that the best investment our society can make in its future is in early childhood programs. Support and improve day care, intervene compassionately with families at risk, advocate and celebrate the people doing this hard and good work, consistently gather data to prove efforts actually work.

Last week, all six of the taxing bodies in Oak Park gathered for the annual update on just such an effort, the Collaboration for Early Childhood, a bold program that each of us taxpayers are funding through the shared support of each and every local government body.

The report this year was particularly good with more children reached, more partners engaged, more developmental screenings offered, more data gathered. The Collaboration is a true innovation that works. Our kids are being better prepared academically and socially for kindergarten, and beyond, by this program. 

What has appealed to us about this effort from the very start is its passion and its modesty. It is not a giant government model that seeks to remake early childhood care based on some presumed and costly utopian vision. Rather, the collaboration connects with a wide range of providers from church basements to storefronts, from school districts to in-home and family caregivers. It meets them where they are, offers support and training for staff and leaders. 

If there is a program Oak Park can be proud of boldly supporting, the Collaboration is it.

Reader Comments

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Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: December 23rd, 2017 4:31 PM

Robert - Maybe I'm old fashioned or just old, but, as a taxpayer, When I buy something, I want to know what I'm paying for.

Robert Zeh  

Posted: December 23rd, 2017 4:14 PM

If you look carefully at the measurements mentioned in the editorial you'll notice that they are all *inputs* to education,. Not a single output. Success is easy when you don't measure results.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: December 21st, 2017 4:21 PM

Tommy.....What would be an adequate amount of time. I went to a few of the public meetings regarding this funding and the logic was that if the dollars are spent in the early years, then less dollars will need to be spent in the future on special ed. It's been 14 years.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 21st, 2017 3:37 PM

Ramona Lopez, you are right that the children do have to go back home and spend a lot more time at home than school. You can't change a parent's thinking unless they are open to it. What you can try and do is instill in to a child what is good and right and by doing that you will reduce the future parents to raise kids with better morals and responsibilities. It is not some thing you can not measure over a short period of time

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 21st, 2017 3:34 PM

Neal Buer, I think I am understanding what you are saying and if I am correct, then we are so far apart that we will never find some type of agreement and that is unfortunate.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: December 21st, 2017 3:04 PM

Tommy McCoy - The question is not whether the Collaboration is good, it's whether it' s better than 8 teachers in the schools. Is it better than having $5,500,000 in the hands of taxpayers who could then spend money on their children, instead of giving it to the government? I understand some people's innate desire to be taken care of by the government, but it does come at a cost.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: December 21st, 2017 2:47 PM

"In 2003, all six of Oak Park's governmental agencies joined to initiate, fund and guide the Collaboration for Early Childhood, a unique public/private partnership designed to improve local early childhood resources. With more than 90 agencies participating, the Collaboration works to overcome the fragmentation and scarcity of services endemic to the early childhood field by integrating all of our community resources to better meet the needs of the youngest children and their families." As Neal stated earlier taxpayers have spent $5.5 million since inception. Since the disparity of test scores between black and white students is still as wide as the grand canyon with no measurable improvements, since black students are still being disciplined more than their white counterparts and since test scores overall are getting worse, why on earth would taxpayers continue to fund this program? Are there any measurable results this collaboration can hang their hat on, or are we paying all this money for some feel good, social justice program that accomplishes nothing. I get it, these kids need help, and I am all for tax dollars helping them out. Perhaps a different approach would work? Instead of concentrating solely on the kids, what about the parents, or more often than not, the parent. As long as the kids have to go home to an environment that is not nurturing or conducive to maturing or learning, all your efforts are for not. Somehow the parents need to have some skin in the game. The burden cannot continue to fall on the backs of the taxpayers.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 21st, 2017 12:40 PM

Neal Buer and Tom MacMillan, the editorial is correct. It starts at the earliest age if you want change and that will mean lower taxes with a better educated society

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: December 21st, 2017 10:44 AM

Tom, you are correct. There is also evidence that the good done by early childhood education, doesn't carryover to adolesence. We have a group on facebook called Oak Park Property Tax Watch.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: December 21st, 2017 9:52 AM

Just saying kids are better prepared because someone used our taxes to do a screening is not the same thing or proof of anything being better. If this program disappeared would anyone even notice, except for the lower property taxes and rents. Lower rents would help the families of these children more than some governmental parenting.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: December 21st, 2017 9:24 AM

I agree that early childhood education is important, but this collaboration is a government funded organization. Since the agreement was signed D200, D97, and the village have spent almost $5,500,000 in taxpayer dollars. In 2018, D97 will contribute over $250,000 to this cause. This amount of money that funds the collaboration could have been spent on 4 classroom teachers. Although this collaboration is wonderful, it should be funded by private citizens, and not taxpayers. This agreement expires at the end of 2018 and should not be renewed.

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