The Joint Budget Committee held a hearing on budget priorities and allowed public testimony for the first time this week. A number of people testified to share their support of fully funding full-day kindergarten. Governor Jared Polis has said that funding full-day kindergarten for Colorado's students is his top priority this session. Legislators are looking at ways to do that while balancing other priorities, too.
Hannah Whitaker, a mom from Wheat Ridge, shared her concern that without access to tuition free full-day kindergarten, that her son's friend, Eric would not have access to the same opportunities as many other children. Eric's parents are recent immigrants from Nepal and working multiple jobs, going to school, and working incredibly hard to achieve the American dream. "Right now Harper and Eric play happily together, babbling in a mix of English, Nepali, and toddler-ese. I would love nothing more than for Harper's future kindergarten class to truly reflect our neighborhood with children sharing language, culture, and friendship across differences. But I feel despairing as I watch them knowing the barriers our system puts in place for students like Eric. His parents can't afford to pay for full-day kindergarten," she told the Committee.
Hannah Whitaker and Cristin O'Rourke at the Capitol after testifying before the Joint Budget Committee
Cristin O'Rourke, a mom from Highlands Ranch, shared her support for fully funded full-day kindergarten saying, "I have seen firsthand as a volunteer in my kid's school the difference that full-day kindergarten makes in the academic and social trajectory of kids. More importantly, I have witnessed time and again the tragic results when children are denied equal educational opportunities. Education is the key to ending the cycle of poverty. Equal education ensures a level playing field for our most vulnerable kids."
If you would like to ask the legislature to fully fund full-day kindergarten you can do that here.