Testimony as prepared for Colorado House Education Committee hearing on HB19-1262: State Funding For Full-day Kindergarten.
I am Lisa Villanueva a resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado and a Stand for Children Fellow. And I am addressing you here today as a mother of three sons, a former kindergarten teacher, a veteran kindergartener and a new member of the grandmother club. I stand here this afternoon before you, to testify in support of a fully funded full-day kindergarten for all children.
As a child of the ghetto in Chicago, I clearly understand what it means to be socially and emotionally disconnected from a system that considered me as a statistic. I share this with you because if were not for the safe and nurturing environment my kindergarten teachers provided me, I would not be as strong as I am and have such a love for learning. You see, in kindergarten by night I took care of my infant brother while my mother worked nights. But, I got up every morning excited to go to school!
Kindergarten for me was a safe haven where there was constant support. It provided me a break from child caring duties and I could eat instead of preparing for feedings.
And as I recall through my kindergarten eyes life was not always rewarding for me it was as a game of survival and that I did. But not without gaining an educational foundation that provided me self-confidence and the academic skill set that set the course to seek for higher education In fact, I reflected as a young adult on my third grade class with the knowing that most were either deceased or serving their young adult years behind bars.
By third grade I wanted to help others in poverty, children in poverty and become a teacher. I wanted to make it so that all children would feel as special as I did.
And I became a teacher. Not only that, but a mother of kindergartners that attended full days and thrived. By the time my children entered their 1st grade they were readers and lovers of math. Well maybe all but one …….he is an amazing artist!
But it became more than just my kids….I became an advocate for all children to have the best start ever in school….to have the very foundation I had. I became a teacher to help them fall in-love with education.
So in closing I would like to reiterate why I am here….
- I am here as the grandma of Syre and Benson…..a grandma who looks on as her children begin to look at enrolling my babies into kindergarten…and hope that full day kindergarten will be available at no cost. And hopefully available when they are ready to enroll them.
- I am here as the voice of parents, guardians and the grandparents that cannot be here to tell you that this will allow them to find a full-time job that will support their family and sustain a lifestyle that will build and provide their children with the necessary skills to achieve!
- I am here for your neighbor that is struggling to make the choice between working a job or struggling to make ends-meet because they cannot afford to pay hundreds per month for their child’s education.
- I am here because this effort will change how our children will perform academically in their future grades of schooling.
- I am here because every child needs and deserves champion and as a teacher that is who I am.
- I am here to assure that all children have access to a quality kindergarten education because it is particularly essential for students in high poverty communities; like the one I grew up in and give these children the boost they need to level the playing field for all children to achieve!
- I am here because I need your support for full day kindergarten!