Bradford: Preschool, full-day kindergarten poor policy for state

Mandatory preschool and full-day kindergarten for all Colorado children are not policies the state should pursue, Republican House District 55 candidate Laura Bradford said Tuesday.

“I am not a fan of universal pre-kindergarten,” Bradford told The Daily Sentinel’s editorial board. “I’m not even a fan of full-day kindergarten.”

Bradford, a Collbran resident, said these programs might make sense for low-income students who cannot stay at home with their parents, but for the children of middle- and high-income families they do not.

“I am a fan of a working wage for a family, that if they so choose a parent can stay at home full-time for as long as they choose. … I do not think it is wise for universal pre-kindergarten to take children out of their homes before they should,” she said. “Parents know best how to raise their kids.”

Bradford said the Head Start program, which helps address the education, health and nutrition issues among low-income children, is an adequate tool for helping young children who might benefit from mandatory pre-kindergarten.

Under Gov. Bill Ritter, the state Legislature has increased funding for preschool and full-day kindergarten programs.

The 2008 School Finance Act, for example, created a $34.5 million grant fund for full-day kindergarten-related construction projects.

Those funds, however, were frozen as part of budget trimming implemented by Ritter as a result of the national economic downturn.

Bradford’s opponent, state Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, along with Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, voted in favor of the bill during its final vote May 6 in the state House.

Buescher, however, said Bradford was misled if she thinks the state has endorsed mandatory kindergarten.

“The fact of the matter is, there’s a lot of young parents that want preschool or full-day kindergarten for their kids,” Buescher said. “I’m curious where she’s jumping to the conclusion that anyone is trying to mandate it.”


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