Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock endorses Amendment 66 during rally at Clayton

“I want to give all Colorado kids the best chance to compete and succeed in a global economy,” said Hancock. He was joined by Charlotte Brantley (President and CEO, Clayton Early Learning), Paul Mezzacappo (Preschool Teacher, Clayton Early Learning), and Heather Tritten (VP of Quality Programs, Qualistar Colorado), to discuss the importance of access to high quality early childhood education. Read more for information, highlights, and video.

View "Give Colorado's Students a Great Start!" Video.

Access to high quality child care and early education can set children on a path to high school graduation and life success. Colorado has an increasing number of children who need this access. Over the past decade, the number of Colorado children living in poverty has risen from 10% to 18% (more than 1 in 6 children) for a total of 217,000 kids. For children under the age of 6 – the time of most crucial brain development – the numbers are even worse: 21% of all children under 6 (85,000 kids) live in poverty in Colorado.

Colorado ranks 20th in the nation with only 14% of 3 and 4-year olds enrolled in state-funded pre-kindergarten seats (compared to Florida and Oklahoma who rank first and second with nearly 40% of 3 and 4-year olds enrolled). The state’s total spending on pre-K ranks us 38th out of 40 states that have a state program. In addition, Colorado currently funds only half-day kindergarten and relies on individual parents or the taxpayers in each school district to cover the remaining cost of full-day kindergarten.

The Clayton Early Learning Board of Trustees has unanimously endorsed a statewide ballot initiative to raise taxes in order to fund a “first in the nation” education reform effort, also known as Amendment 66. The passage of the ballot initiative would provide more equitable school funding, increased accountability and transparency in how public dollars are spent and increased investments in early childhood education, English Language Learners, classroom technology, and teacher training. Coloradans will be asked to vote on Amendment 66 in the November 5, 2013 election in order to raise the nearly $1 billion in revenue to implement these reform efforts outlined in Senate Bill 213 that was signed into law in the 2013 legislative session.

The ballot initiative will greatly impact the early childhood landscape. Passage of the initiative will provide the single largest investment in early childhood in the history of the state by:

• Removing the 20,160 seat cap in the Colorado Preschool Program, opening up access to an estimated 25,500 at-risk 3- and 4- year olds across the state; and
• Fully funding full-day kindergarten for every family that wants it, making Colorado only the 11th state in the country to offer tuition-free, full-day kindergarten.

Staying true to our mission as a national leader to advance the field of early childhood education and promoting educational equity through effective early childhood policy, Clayton now joins several other organizations in supporting this landmark effort. For a full list of endorsements and additional information, please visit Colorado Commits to Kids and see more on Mayor Michael Hancock’s endorsement here.