All Jeffco students deserve a supportive foundation for educational and lifelong success. In Jeffco, early childhood education is our shared opportunity and challenge to help all children thrive now and long into the future.
Did you know that for every dollar invested in quality early childhood education, $3-$7 dollars are saved? (http://fcd-us.org/sites/default/files/Evidence%20Base%20on%20Preschool%20Education%20FINAL.pdf) That is a smart investment!
Did you know major long-term positives correlate to a child’s access to quality early childhood education, including higher graduation rates, higher incomes, and lower crime and teen pregnancy rates?
Did you know quality preschool and kindergarten classrooms prove helpful to ALL students–typically-developing children AND children with special needs, English language learners AND native English speakers, children in poverty AND middle class kids?
Jeffco faces a unique challenge in assuring all students benefit from this crucial foundation.
Wonderful programs and partnerships exist, like the Parent-Child Home Program which supports young families in creating nurturing learning environments from the beginning of a child’s life, and the Jefferson Success Pathway which aims to connect all stakeholders to help all students succeed from cradle to career. Also, the Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) and ECARE identify and fund access to half-day preschool and full-day kindergarten for students who qualify due to family, economic, or developmental need.
Jeffco sadly lost access to over $1 million dollars in CPP and ECARE funds last year due to a school board decision. School board members must practice due diligence in protecting these critical pathways of support for Jeffco’s students and families.
Our school district is currently trying a new mechanism for providing free full-day kindergarten to children who qualify for free and reduced-cost meals – now we must evaluate its effectiveness. Communication, family privacy, and student-based budgeting must be carefully navigated so that full-day kindergarten is a high-quality service delivered to all families who choose it, not an unfair revenue stream with clear winners and losers among our school communities.
Jeffco must maintain high-quality preschool and kindergarten programming that develops play with purpose, social and emotional health, planning and follow-through skills, and bedrock academic abilities. In well-equipped classrooms with well-trained, well-supported early childhood educators, young children learn to actively and joyfully participate in learning, setting them on a path toward greater lifelong success.
I am so thankful for the passionate, professional preschool and kindergarten teachers in Jeffco who launched my children on a path of positive engagement in learning. I will work to ensure all Jeffco families are served with the same age-appropriate excellence for our youngest learners.
(For further reading, click here to read a letter I submitted last Spring to Jeffco’s school board regarding kindergarten, student-based budgeting and equity.)