“Daddy changed the world.” – Gianna Floyd, 6 years old
Yes, Gianna’s father, George Floyd, changed the world, but he never should have had to. At the Denver Preschool Program, we are heartbroken and outraged as we once again witness the unacceptable violence against Black people, and feel the deep anguish and injustice our community is experiencing. Even more devastating is that we know our children experience the painful realities of racism, too. We owe it to all Black children to fight against racism and oppression in early childhood and provide equitable opportunities to high-quality preschool. We owe it to children like Gianna impacted by these atrocities to commit ourselves to the movement for permanent change.
We are a part of a larger early childhood ecosystem that must support our children from birth to 3rd grade, and preschool is often that entry point. It is a responsibility that we do not take lightly—to shut the door to inequality in education. Studies show that large gaps in Denver’s test scores based on students’ race, income and disability status remain. Some of the largest are between White students and Black students. That is why we are committed to do what it takes to make high-quality preschool possible for Denver’s children, because children who attend high-quality preschool programs not only have a stronger foundation in early language, literacy and math skills, but they are also less likely to repeat grade levels and more likely to graduate high school and attend college.
We know that we have to listen and step up in specific communities in Denver—especially in how we serve Black, Brown, and Indigenous families —to provide more equitable pathways to success, both for our children and the workforce that serves them. We are committing ourselves to actively partner with our families, community preschool providers, preschool teachers, school districts and policymakers to examine our approaches and develop a sharper focus on racial equity in our work.
As we hold the mirror up to ourselves, we will examine how we may be inadvertently lifting a White power structure and contributing to racism and oppression through our approach or policies. Only then can we work towards achieving our mission that every child in Denver enter kindergarten ready to reach their full potential. We know that change does not happen overnight, so we are recommitting to evaluating our policies and approaches to programming and holding ourselves accountable to the Black, Brown and Indigenous families now and into the future. One way to ensure we hear your voice is to attend our monthly board meetings, where we invite participation from the community. We encourage you, and all constituents of Denver, to join us in creating permanent change.
Justice doesn’t happen without the courage to speak the truth, the strength to make difficult changes and the commitment to equity. Our most important work lies ahead to ensure our children of color have a bright start – their futures depend on it.
For resources on talking to the children in your life about race and racism, check out these children’s books or tips for talking about race with young children from NPR, EmbraceRace and Zero to Three.