As any parent can tell you, kindergarten is a time when our kids’ desire to learn really takes off. This is the time when children begin to develop the skills that they will use throughout their lives, including how to work with others, problem solving and critical early literacy skills.
A quality kindergarten experience builds on these things to help kids appreciate learning and develop self-confidence so that they are ready for first grade.
Denver Public Schools sees the investments we make in full-day kindergarten paying off in many ways, such as increasing the number of kids who are building critical early literacy skills, and giving parents more freedom to work and support their families.
Every family in Colorado deserves access to these life-transforming services. That’s why I am so happy that Gov. Jared Polis has made funding full-day kindergarten for every student one of his primary goals in the first year of his administration.
This is an important step for a state that has consistently been near the bottom in terms of per-pupil funding. It sends a clear message that our elected representatives understand the vital importance of ensuring that all of our kids get the head start they need to succeed throughout their school career and later in life.
For many of our parents, the expenses associated with early childhood education take away from other family priorities. Funding for full-day kindergarten will ensure that families can retain more of their hard-earned money to focus on raising stable, nourished and healthy children.
For DPS, universal kindergarten will allow us to increase compensations for our hardworking teachers. It will also help us to increase opportunities for preschool, which gives our 3- and 4-year-olds time to develop and grow through play and experience and to take their first steps toward a lifelong journey of learning.
A 2010 Harvard University study estimated that a class of kindergarten students with an exceptional teacher can expect to earn an additional $320,000 over the course of their careers.
There’s also a growing body of research that shows kids who receive high-quality kindergarten education are more likely to go to college, save for retirement and earn higher salaries compared to kids with similar backgrounds who did not attend kindergarten.
With the additional support for full-day kindergarten funding at the state level, DPS will be able to provide more access to the training and resources our teachers need to excel in their profession — and pass on the gift of future success to our students.
I thank Gov. Polis for making this a priority, and look forward to working with the General Assembly and governor’s office to fully fund full-day kindergarten by fall 2019. It’s an investment that will produce enormous economic and social benefits for our state and, more importantly, it’s the right thing to do for Colorado’s kids.
Susana Cordova is superintendent of Denver Public Schools.