On face value, Initiative 1B appears to be a proposal with great promise but it’s the details, or lack thereof, that is of greatest concern to me.
If Initiative 1B passes, then an implementation plan will be developed to create the program structure. There are many questions that will remain unanswered until this process begins and we will not see this until after we have voted.
Because we will not know the details until after we vote in November, I am providing a list of reasons based on what I know so far and the City of Seattle’s Preschool Program Action Plan which the implementation plan is to be based on.
One of the consultants hired to create this Action Plan was BERK Consulting. BERK was also the consulting firm used to develop “The Road Map Project/CCER Local Race to the Top Application Development”. For more on the Road Map Project as developed in conjunction with Community Center for Education Results (CCER) , see CCER, the Road Map Project and the loss of student privacy, The Road Map Project, Race to the Top, Bill Gates and your student’s privacy and A Look at Race to the Top.
Now for the list
1.The city and its employees do not know enough to create such a program and then run it.
For example, the city has such a limited knowledge of how to establish and run a program that they have hired expensive consultants, rather than local “experts” who have had years of experience and training in this area, to come in and create the program for them. Unfortunately they don’t know who they have hired. See reason number 2 for an example.
2. One of the two consultants who was hired to create and implement the preschool program, Ellen Frede, is also an employee of Acelero, a for profit group that has taken over four Head Start programs in other cities where Universal preK has been established in a similar fashion by the city.
Ellen Frede is Senior Vice President of Education and Research, for Acelero. See A for-profit approach to Head Start and Seattle PreSchool for All Proposition 1B: Acelero, the fox watching over the hen house
3. Even though the city wants to use Seattle Public School space and money for the program, the district has neither, they do not have a seat at the table and so far have not been invited to be part of the oversight committee.
Throughout the development of the initiative and now proposition, the Seattle Public School Board was not brought into these conversations until last week when the Mayor and Tim Burgess’ plan was presented to the board. By the way, Mayor Murray recently called Burgess the “King of Preschool” at a public event for Proposition 1B. King, Czar….
4. There is already talk by the city to increase their influence by growing into a prek-3 and preK-5 program. This project appears to be led by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
5. Test balloons are being floated via the Seattle Times on the idea of mayoral control of our schools in Seattle.
Not a good idea, see Mayoral Control: The short of it. You can see where this is going with Preschool for All as a vehicle.
6. The KIPP charter chain and Teach for America, Inc. (TFA) are both part of Universal pre-K programs in other cities and have plans to expand.
Needless to say, I am sure Seattle is one of their next targets, using city and possibly state and Federal money to increase their coffers. See A Model Built on Rigor, Structure Adapting to the Schooling Needs of a Younger Group of Students and TFA’s Early Childhood Initiative.
KIPP is one of the approved programs for Washington state and Teach for America is struggling to stay alive in Seattle.
7. There will be a bloated city administrative staff with the addition of 42 individuals which comes out to 1 administrator for every 50 students.
This does not include actual teaching and support staff in the pre-schools.
Approving Proposition 1B comes with a price tag of over $50M to implement. Read your ballot carefully.
8. Programs such as Montessori and Reggio Emilia will not be included in the Preschool for All Proposition 1B plan because the material that is to be used in the pre-schools will be standardized and prepared by Pearson or a similar publishing company.
Pearson has been bandied about by city staff.
9. Will the Preschool for All program in Seattle be taking Race to the Top money for their program? It’s happening in Federal Way with the concomitant Common Core Standards and testing as the basis for their preschool program.
With the acceptance of Race to the Top money also comes a requirement to share all student information.
Federal funds, Race to the Top money, is available for pre-school initiatives and the City of Seattle has expressed an interest in these funds. But buyer beware, these funds come with lots of strings attached including assessments and personal information gathered and shared.
See The Road Map Project, Race to the Top, Bill Gates and your student’s privacy and A Look at Race to the Top. By the way, the seed for this Proposition 1B was planted by none other than Bill Gates whose people put together a presentation for the City Council. This presentation was also seen by some of our state legislators.
10. There is no specific language in the Action Plan or Proposition about providing meals to the children.
Many of these children will be living at or below the poverty level and the first thing they will need is a good hot breakfast to start off their day. Breakfast and lunch might be the only opportunity for them to have well-balanced and healthy meals.
Looking at the framework of Proposition 1B, this is not a school I would send my daughter to. In response to that, someone who is part of the push for Proposition 1B said that it is not a mandatory program. To that I say, then we are creating a two tier system, one that has programmed lessons and assessments for lower income children and another tier for those parents who want their children to grow and develop at their own pace and within a preschool that is rich with intellectual exploration and stimulation and no testing and, oh yeah, lots of time for singing, dancing, art and playing, also known as fun.
For a flyer that can be printed, go to https://sites.google.com/site/seattleducation2012/10-reasons-why-the-city-s-preschool-for-all-proposition-1b-is-not-a-good-idea.