Updated: June 18, 2013 8:24AM
As a police chief, I know that one of the most powerful weapons in the arsenal we have for fighting crime is making sure that children don’t get into trouble in the first place. I’m part of a growing consensus among law enforcement leaders that making smart investments in early childhood education can greatly reduce crime.
Quality preschool programs are crucial to giving young children a strong foundation. Programs such as those offered in Tinley Park do far more than help preschoolers learn shapes and numbers. They help young children learn impulse control, problem solving and working in groups.
Not surprisingly, these skills translate to lower arrest and incarceration rates later in life in addition to raising high school graduation rates.
These programs also save taxpayers money in the long term, with one study finding that taxpayers save as much as $16 for every $1 invested in early childhood education. A lot of these savings are from crime-related costs, so our communities also benefit from being safer.
In Illinois, we have a high-quality preschool program called Preschool for All. Unfortunately, our state budget woes have led to significant cuts in this program during the last few years. We’ve lost what amounts to 1,000 preschool classrooms across the state, and some counties have almost no state-funded preschool classrooms left.
Knowing the benefits in crime prevention and public safety costs from preschool, I urge our state leaders to hold the line on eliminating any more slots in the Preschool for All program.
Tinley Park police chief
Minimum-wage hike needed
David Vite, chief executive of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, wrote to Forum to try to persuade others that raising the minimum wage will be bad for the “job creators,” or business owners. I am tired of lobbyists and special interest groups trying to manipulate our system.
The middle class and the working class are the real job creators. Business owners will not make money or hire employees unless people are spending money. Demand creates jobs. We need to increase the minimum wage.
Don’t tell me that if the minimum wage is increased, companies won’t hire. If a business has increased demand, it will hire, period. $10 per hour is still not a livable wage, but at least it pulls someone who works 40 hours per week out of poverty. The working poor who make $8.25 per hour collect food stamps, so we taxpayers are partly subsidizing the payrolls for these businesses.
Wages for most lower-paid workers have remained stagnant for many years, and it is killing our economy by limiting these workers’ ability to spend. But business interests and lobbyists like David Vite don’t want to acknowledge that.