As a parent, I know preschool isn’t a one size fits all experience. My oldest daughter couldn’t wait to start preschool, my youngest begged me not to take her. Same place, different kids, and two completely unique experiences. Interestingly, when it came time for kindergarten, both of my daughters were ready.
That’s why I’m urging a no vote to both 1A and 1B. Preschool needs to be done right. Families, along with preschool providers, and local government have to be on the same page. In addition, I’m troubled by several issues:
-why did both sides walk away from negotiations that would have given voters one united proposition?
-The City already invests $61M in preschool services via the Families & Education Levy (http://www.seattle.gov/office-for-education/about-the-levy. ) And Seattle Schools has dozens of preschools in its buildings already. So it’s not true “nothing” is being done about preschool in Seattle.
-Why don’t we know where the money is coming from for 1A? Why won’t 1B say where the classes will be located and who gets in?
-My children are in Seattle schools and nearly all of our schools are hugely crowded. The district just announced it has grown nearly another 1,000 students. It has grown 1,000 students a year every year for the last four years. They have installed 30 new portables all around the district this past summer. And yet every City document on 1B says its “priority” is partnering with SPS.
-My kids’ classroom isn’t even fully funded as stated under McCleary for K-12 and the City wants both room and resources from SPS?
-1A wants to have control of its training “institute” when there are good early childhood programs at most community colleges.
-1B would fund a 6-hour “academic day.” That seems a long day for small people and yet it doesn’t include childcare for a parent’s 9-hour workday. In fact, if 1B passes, the City would fund a longer preschool day than the state does for kindergarten. That seems backwards to me.
-Kids aren’t “one size fits all” and yet 1B would only allow their own curriculum and exclude ones like Montessori and Waldorf.
-Prop 1B is top-heavy with administrators who would make upwards of $100K+ while the salary range for teachers would be between $30-60K. I want my tax dollars in the classroom. http://murray.seattle.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/AttachmentAthruE.pdf
Additionally, the City Council has just taken on the work of being the Metropolitan District for the Parks. Does the City Council really have the ability and bandwidth to take on two major endeavors at the same time? I don’t and I can sum it up in one word: Bertha.
1A is less about preschool and more about birth to age five caregivers having more oversight, better training and higher wages to create better conditions for children.
1B is about a structured preschool system throughout the city with oversight to ready 3 and 4 year olds for kindergarten.
Which will bring better outcomes for our littlest citizens from low-income families and is the best use of taxpayer dollars? No one can say for certain.
It’s important for all voters to realize that we do NOT have to vote for either measure. This ballot issue has two parts and if you answer No to the first question, you can stop. Plus, a no vote will not impact the preschool programs already in place.
Voters deserve a clear ballot and should not be asked to blindly approve one plan over another. The lack of coordination between the proponents of 1A and 1B is also troubling. A no vote will send both camps back to the table to create one authentic proposition that would serve the most Seattle children.
Submitted by Carolyn Leith, a parent of two students in Seattle Public Schools