During its budget deliberations Monday, the village board agreed to grant Oak Park’s Collaborative for Early Childhood Care and Education $35,000 to fund a study which may help get address the achievement gap where it starts.

Coupled with $15,000 contributed by District 200, Early Childhood hopes to start a program called “Partnership for Human Development.” It would study ways to raise the quality of early childcare providers and also conduct outreach activities for families with young children.

The collaborative maintains that the minority student achievement gap needs to be addressed before children enter kindergarten. The achievement gap continues to widen after that age.

“Without a sound foundation, the most exquisite and expensive building will fail,” Eric Gershenson, chair of the collaborative, said in a One View published last October. “In Oak Park we have built impressive educational structures but ignored the foundation.”

Village President David Pope spoke to the importance of helping get the collaborative off and running as an investment in the future.

“This is a nominal investment when you look at the need and the demand,” Trustee Ray Johnson said Monday. “The benefits will far outweigh the cost and we should move forward with a partnership.”

-Marty Stempniak

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