Teachers, parents, children, and several prominent business leaders gathered at the Capitol last week to rally support for early childhood education. Children covered the West steps of the Capitol, smiling, laughing and chanting along with local childcare providers — “ECE [early childhood education] is important to me!”
Senate Majority Leader Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, kicked off the rally on March 12, stating that he would not support any budget cuts to early childhood education programs. He told the crowd that no single issue is more important to him at the Capitol. The state is looking at a budget shortfall of over $600 million and needs to cut spending in all areas. Early childhood education programs are already operating with reduced budgets and impending shortfalls, various speakers pointed out.
President and CEO of Qualistar Early Learning Gladys Wilson called for adequate funding to ensure high quality education. Wilson highlighted early education’s effects on business before handing the mic to Tony Gagliardi, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.
“There is no better return on our investment than investing in young children,” said Gagliardi who spoke on behalf of Colorado’s small businesses. He highlighted the partnership required between business, government and education. Gagliardi added that early childhood education aids in developing the next generation of skilled employees while providing jobs for care providers and getting parents back in the work force.
Megan Ferland, president and CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign motioned to the children surrounding her, “These young minds right here are developing at an amazing rate. Research has shown that 85 percent of brain development occurs by age three, so there are tremendous potential ramifications for impacting lifetime outcomes in early childhood education and care.”
Early Childhood Education Association of Colorado plans to continue their efforts to ensure that early childhood education programs continue delivering school-ready children with the cognitive, social, physical, and emotional skills necessary to excel in the 21st Century.