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Just imagine the excitement of starting preschool for the first time! Then -- o-oh -- what is this lady saying to me? How do I tell her I need to go to the bathroom? The teacher is looking at me. What is she saying?

Over the years, our nation has seen the value of preschool education for our young children That vision has been supported with state and federal funding. But there has been no mandate at the preschool level for meaningful instruction in a language the child understands -- no support with specialized instruction in English as a Second Language (ESL). Schools generally use the "sink or swim" method. Some children do learn to "swim;" others fall farther and farther behind as they play "catch-up" with classmates who already speak English.

The Illinois State Board of Education Rules Committee wants to change this -- and they want your input. They propose that all Early Childhood Teachers (Type 04 certificate) in Illinois obtain a Bilingual or English as a Second Language(ESL) Approval by the year 2014. The number of students in Illinois coming from all over the world is growing. Many of them begin at the preschool level, unable to understand English with teachers who may not understand them. Let's be ready to receive these little ones with the very best professionals -- all Early Childhood Teachers prepared with the tools and compassion to provide a truly appropriate education for all children. (This doesn't mean all teachers will suddenly have to go out and become bilingual. The ESL Approval is for them. It will show teachers how to reach students through linguistically and culturally appropriate ways.)

How can this happen? The Illinois State Board of Education Rules Committee want to know what you think. Send them a brief email -- today -- right now --to pass the proposed rule changes to Parts 228 and 235. TO:

Please send us your thoughts in the Comment Section.