Introducing the Birth to Eight Roadmap

To close our educational and societal gaps, we know there are no easy answers, no magic solutions. But there are some critical investments that we do know will pay off. One of them is early literacy.

Research has shown that children who are proficient readers in third grade are four times more likely to graduate than those who don’t. That’s why we’ve focused one of our Denver Plan 2020 goals squarely in this area.

And that’s why we’ve teamed up with the City of Denver’s Office of Children’s Affairs and several community partners to launch our Birth to Eight Roadmap. Yesterday at Munroe Elementary School, I was joined by other leaders from DPS, the City of Denver and across the community to share some of the details of our citywide early-literacy partnership.

We know that quality preschool and kindergarten programs are critical to laying a strong educational foundation for a child’s academic success, but we also know how important the stages are in a child’s development before they reach kindergarten. That’s why it is so important that our schools, community organizations and the city work together to provide both educational opportunities for kids and supports for parents to help them guide their children’s language development.

“The commitment we have made through the Birth to Eight Roadmap is not just as a district, but as a complete city,” said Denver Board of Education member Happy Haynes, who co-chaired the Birth to 8 Commission with fellow board member Barbara O’Brien and Erin Brown, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Children’s Affairs. “We will make sure our youngest learners are so prepared — from the moment they are born to the day they head to higher education — that they will achieve their full potential.”

The Birth to Eight Roadmap has five guiding principles: Engaged and supported families, effective professionals, citywide culture of language and literacy, shared leadership, and continuous improvement.

Families clearly are our first and most important partners in the education of our children, and we’re committed to providing them with important opportunities like early screenings, speech-language therapy, home visits and playgroups to support their children’s educational development, starting at birth.

All of that helps build throughout our city a culture of language and literacy, supported by shared leadership at the state and local levels, with a commitment to continually finding ways to improve the services we’re providing to our families.

That’s the roadmap to success for every child. It’s a map with no gaps in opportunities, no disadvantages based on zip code or demographics. It’s not an easy road. It takes a lot of commitment, a community of partnerships, serious investments in resources and talent, and a lot of hard work.

But it’s absolutely essential to giving all of our children the early-literacy development they need to be ready to succeed when they walk into their first preschool classroom, when they sit down to read their novel and when they take that first step off the graduation stage toward the great future they see ahead for themselves.