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A contentious Farm Bill heads to U.S. House for debate. Also on our rundown: gaps cited in protections for small-business employees and nonprofit volunteers; plus power out for much of Puerto Rico; and some warning signs, that increased youth activism may not correspond to voter turnout.

Daily Newscasts

It's Your Turn to Speak out about Education in Illinois

October 18, 2010

CHICAGO - The Illinois State Board of Education holds the first of a series of public hearings on the 2012 budget today at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. Five more will be held throughout the state before the end of November. With federal funding expected to decrease and the state trying to dig itself out of a $17 billion hole, Sean Noble, director of government relations with Voices for Illinois Children, says prioritizing education is one way to turn the economy around. The budget cuts from this year, Noble says, have hurt.

"Not only are class sizes going up because teachers are being laid off, but we're also adding to the unemployment rate."

Noble says many Illinois children lost an educational head start in the last round of cuts.

"Last year, 10,000 young children throughout the state lost pre-school and other early childhood programs that helped them enter to kindergarten, prepared for success."

Noble says education can play a key role in energizing the state's economy.

"If we pull back on investing wisely in education, we're hurting our own economic recovery and business competitive efforts over time."

Many organizations and elected officials are expected to attend these hearings, so why should individuals bother? Noble says it's simple.

"To make sure that the things that you as the individual parent, grandparent, taxpayer and so forth see as important are really being paid attention to."

Info about upcoming hearings is at www.isbe.state.il.us

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL