Do better for Illinois children

As the world continues to reopen following the pandemic, we should ensure that we learn from the past year and a half. For one thing, the coronavirus highlighted the immense needs of young children in Illinois.

As a member of Mission: Readiness, a nationwide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of over 750 retired admirals and general officers, I am deeply concerned that our youth are not receiving adequate care and resources. In Illinois, 70% of our 17- to 24-year-olds cannot qualify for military service due to a combination of factors: obesity, poor education and criminal records. While not everyone may want to join the military, everyone should at least have the option to serve his or her country. Early childhood programs have been shown to provide children with a strong foundation on which to build skills necessary to succeed.

Increasing Illinois Pre-K resources by at least 10%, or $54.4 million, in the FY23 budget would be a step in the right direction to better the quality and reach of our early childhood programming in the state. This, in conjunction with a 10% increase across a wide range of early childhood services, would allow the state to start working toward actualizing the recommendations recently provided by a bipartisan Illinois commission on early care and education needs.

We need to do better for our state’s children. Addressing the quality and availability of preschool, childcare, and birth-to-3 programs must be a priority.

William Austin, Brigadier General (Ret), U.S. Army, Effingham

Protect our freedom

I would hope all are aware that many shed their blood that we may be free people. Do what you can to protect our freedom. There are those who would take it away. Be informed and not deceived.

Matthew 24:4: And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

Revelation 22:15: For without are ... and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Luke 21:18: But there shall not a hair of your head perish. (Fear not.)

Pastor Loy Cash, Effingham

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