Aug 25, 2023 - News

Inside a classroom as Colorado's preschool program debuts

Teacher Jordan Parsons reads a book to her students on the first day of preschool at Auraria Early Learning Center. Photo: Ann Schimke/Chalkbeat

The expansion of preschool education in Colorado is taking shape.

Why it matters: The presence of children in classrooms is a milestone after the troubled rollout of the universal preschool program left schools and parents uncertain about how it would look and the quality of the education, our education reporting partners at Chalkbeat write.

Details: The $322 million program that rolled out this month offers 10 hours of tuition-free preschool to most 4-year-olds statewide and up to 30 hours for some.

  • As many as 40,000 children are expected to participate.

Zoom in: Inside Denver's Auraria Early Learning Center, 13 kids sat on a rug as teachers played a "would you rather" game and read a story about a dinosaur's first day of school.

  • The worries in the classroom involved missing home and heat cutting short outdoor playtime.
  • A little girl said her favorite part of preschool is "using scissors," particularly a purple glittery pair.

What they're saying: The center's director, Emily Nelson, acknowledged the challenges and empty seats she hoped to fill. But she said she's pleased so far — and so are parents, who saw monthly full-day tuition at Auraria drop from $1,531 to $921 under the state-sponsored program.

  • "I feel good with where we're at," she said.
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