The Mayor had wanted his proposal to go on the ballot in 2015. Councilman Burgess says it might loosen the city's control over the qualifications for teachers. But the I-107 side says that with their initiative more of the existing teachers would get professional development while with the City's proposal there would be many fewer current preschool teachers eligible.
end of update.
Again, like mom, apple pie and the flag, we can all like the idea of providing enriching activities to stimulate the brains of our Seattle toddlers. Research has shown that kids with good preschool do better when they enter kindergarten.
Over at the Seattle Education blog, Dora Taylor does an incredibly heavy lift over the question of what exactly is being promoted (and by who) for the issue of universal pre-K for Seattle toddlers.
I will point out that no parent has to send their child to any pre-K program.
There are several compelling issues.
1) Like Common Core, the legislation being pushed by Councilman Tim Burgess seems on an incredibly fast track. I find this troubling.
2) Are we talking pre-school or pre-K (which are not the same things). Ask any expert on early childhood learning. Again, I find another link to Common Core because early childhood learning experts have raised real issues about the Common Core standards for K-2 being developmentally inappropriate.
3) Forty (40!) public employees made trip to Boston to check out their work on universal pre-K centers. As Dora asks, who paid for that and why so many people?
4) Red flag for me and Dora - DFER is involved with this issue and they link it to ...charter schools. Ah, now the picture becomes clearer. KIPP is starting their own chain called LEAP.
5) It's worth pointing out the push coming from Councilman Tim Burgess. Councilman Burgess refused - repeatedly - to ever state his views on charter schools during the 1240 campaign.
It's interesting because Burgess wrote an e-mail to Susan Enfield in Nov. 2011 (when she was superintendent) where he said he was deeply interested in the World School and vocational education. There is no mention of pre-K. I do keep up and I don't recall any Board member or Superintendent Banda mentioning this input/interest from the Councilman.
5) Mayor Murray is to attend the Mayor's Conference in Austin with panels on education that include, Kevin Johnson (mayor of Sacramento, married to Michelle Rhee), Arne Duncan, Jackie Bezos (yes, married to Jeff and head of their foundation), Antonio Villaraigosa (former mayor of LA and linked to Eli Broad).
Other concerns via Seattle Education blog:
- The Seattle Public School district is listed as a crucial partner for this program but given no oversight.
- There is an emphasis on assessments (testing).
- There is wording that implies a waiver for teachers who aren’t fully certified. KIPP uses Teach for America, Inc recruits to staff their charter schools, is this what is meant in the Ordinance about non-certified “teachers”? (To which I'll add, what is the normal requirement for being a teacher in a "quality" pre-K?)
- There are references to using Head Start funding as well. Will that divert federal funds from existing SPS pre-k s to this new project?
- Data sharing mentioned.
PRE-K DATA VARIES ACROSS STATES: Thirty states say they’re securely linking early education child-level data from some programs to their state’s K-12 data system, but 49 states say they aren’t connecting that child-level data across all early childhood programs to the K-12 system. Pennsylvania is the exception, according to a new study released by the Early Childhood Data Collaborative. Twenty states are linking early childhood data to social services data and 12 are linking that data to state health data. The report also finds that 36 states collect state-level childhood development data across early childhood programs and 29 are collecting kindergarten readiness data. If a bipartisan congressional preschool expansion titled the Strong Start for America’s Children Act were to become a reality, states would have to tie early childhood data to their state’s K-12 systems.
From an article in the Washington Post by Alfie Kohn:
But here’s the catch: Very few people are talking about the kind of education that would be offered — other than declaring it should be “high quality.” And that phrase is often interpreted to mean “high intensity”: an accelerated version of skills-based teaching that most early-childhood experts regard as terrible. Poor children, as usual, tend to get the worst of this.
It doesn’t bode well that many supporters of universal pre-K seem to be more concerned about economic imperatives than about what’s good for kids. In his speech last year, for example, the president introduced the topic by emphasizing the need to “start at the earliest possible age” to “equip our citizens with the skills and training” they’ll need in the workplace. The New York Times, meanwhile, editorialized recently about how we must “tightly integrate the [pre-K] program with kindergarten through third grade so that 4-year-olds do not lose their momentum. It will have to prepare children well for the rigorous Common Core learning standards that promise to bring their math, science and literacy skills up to international norms.”
That doesn’t leave much time for play. But even to the extent we want to promote meaningful learning in young children, the methods are likely to be counterproductive, featuring an emphasis on the direct instruction of skills and rote rehearsal of facts.
This is the legacy of behaviorism: Children are treated as passive receptacles of knowledge, with few opportunities to investigate topics and pose questions that they find intriguing. In place of discovery and exploration, tots are trained to sit still and listen, to memorize lists of letters, numbers, and colors. Their success or failure is relentlessly monitored and quantified, and they’re “reinforced” with stickers or praise for producing right answers and being compliant.
This dreary version of early-childhood education isn’t just disrespectful of children; decades of research show it simply doesn’t work well — and may even be damaging. The same approach has long been over-represented in schools that serve low-income African-American and Latino children; indeed, it was described by the late Martin Haberman as the “pedagogy of poverty” and it continues to find favor in inner-city charter schools. If we’re not careful, calls to expand access to preschool will result in more of the same for younger children whose families can’t afford an alternative.