Thursday, October 23, 2014

Strong Op-Ed on Preschool Props from Seattle Parent

The Times (finally) had an op-ed that wasn't for mayoral takeover or promoting 1B.  That was written by Seattle Schools parent, Rita Green, is even better.  Rita is a savvy, smart, dedicated parent and advocate for Rainier Beach High School.  My hope is that she may run for the School Board soon (before it becomes an appointed job).

Her POV is that 1B likely won't help low-income students and may even hurt the situation.  She supports 1A.

Now I believe voters should reject both but, since you can name a favorite (or the lesser of two evils), you probably should vote.  My vote, like Rita's, would be for 1A.  I'll highlight her thoughts but my basic one is that, after consideration, I think more low-income children would receive the benefit of 1A and that's where I want my tax dollars going.

Her starting point:
Research shows that children who are exposed to poverty at a young age often have trouble academically later in life. If we’re to believe the sponsors of Proposition 1B, this “achievement gap” could be overcome by sending a few 3- and 4-years-olds to nine months of public preschool with an academic curriculum established by City Hall.
It’s poverty, not the lack of a publicly funded preschool, that’s doing the most to undermine our children’s chances at success. According to U.S. News & World Report, poverty’s damaging effects on young children can range from poor cognitive outcomes and school performance to a higher risk for anti-social behaviors and mental disorders.
And then she says what she really thinks:
City Hall’s Proposition 1B raises our property taxes to send just 6.7 percent of Seattle’s young children to preschool for 6 hours a day for a few months, and just some of those 2,000 seats are reserved for children in poverty. That’s throwing $58 million at the problem so Seattle voters, and Proposition 1B’s millionaire campaign funders, can feel like they’ve done something good for poor kids.
And hey! she offers ideas for real solutions:
To reverse, and prevent, the crushing impacts of poverty on Seattle’s young children, we should do three things:
• Provide consistent, high-quality care options for kids from birth to 5 years old;
• Make Seattle child care more affordable and accessible;
• Remove the disincentives to opening and running high-quality preschools so more children receive their benefits.


Mary Griffin said...

Nice work by Rita. It's nice it's written by someone who is very credible. I hope people read it.

Anonymous said...

I was happy to see some pushback against 1B over n Slog too, courtesy of Sally Soriano:

And I can't wait to see what Dora has on 1B.


mirmac1 said...

Thank you Rita, as always, for your strong voice on behalf of struggling kids.

Anonymous said...

A real breath of fresh air!


Anonymous said...

Again, very few if any low-income preschoolers are going to "benefit" from 1A. Just where do you think the money for enhanced training and certification and the increased wages are going to come from? Are the preschools going to pass these increased costs along to their low-income parents? Are you hoping that the City Council, if 1A passes, will come to their senses and fund the costs of the union-run training?

Again, I hope, really hope, that both of these fail and that the city, child care providers (and not just union-led teachers, etc.), low-income community organizations and advocates, and the unions head back to the drawing board to come up with a real and sustainable plan.

--- swk

Transparency Please said...

I voted NO on both preschool initiatives. If one initiative needs to pass, I voted 1A.

Both initiatives are flawed. Similar to swk, I believe that 1A will put small preschools out of business and I don't believe the union should be permitted to provide all preschool training. I feel the union would do a good job, but we also have community colleges.

If IA passes, all expenditures etc. would need to go through the City Council and there is $30M-$60M dollars in funding to support this initiative. Considering the manner in which Murray/Burgess/ Miller did not inform SPS school board about this major initiative and the fact that Burgess has tried to insert himself into educational policy, I don't mind giving the union Family and Ed. dollars.

I believe we will see a legislative attempt to insert prek into the K-12 system and the city's program will be the pilot. I suspect that the reason there is an emphasis on data.

I also believe that there is much uncertainty whether or not prek would be included in charter school funding. My guess: there will be a push to include prek in charter schools.

I also think the city would try and insert themselves into K-5. Who wants that fight?

Under lessons learned: LEV informed the board about the city's prek initiative by launching a campaign to win school board approval. I'm hoping they have learned a valuable lesson.

Transparency Please said...

Anecdote: I met a CEO of a large preschool chain. I asked: "How do you like that business". He responded: "It is great, there re plenty of people willing to overpay and plenty of people willing to get underpaid.(!)"

I believe 1A would disproportionately impact small prek owners.

I'd tried to figure-out a way to deal with large prek chains that over charge families and under pay workers, but I don't have an answer. To me, this is something that needs to be looked at.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Just where do you think the money for enhanced training and certification and the increased wages are going to come from?"

From the City which has to fund this if it passes. I'm not sure I get how this would cause a childcare center to raise prices.

The City Council has to find the money but I do suspect if it passes, they will drag their feet.

I agree that the unions should the only training place just like I don't think the City should proscribe the curriculum.

But we are agreement - what a confusing mess.

The City (governance) and the unions (labor) need a cold splash of defeat in their faces and get back to the table.

Lynn said...

Ms. Green says "just some of those 2,000 seats are reserved for children in poverty." Has the city released information about how seats will be allocated? I don't think we know that any seats will be reserved for children in poverty.

Anonymous said...

with meeting minutes.


Anonymous said...

Melissa, where does it say that the city is on the hook for finding the funds to pay from my wife's private preschool staff training and certification costs? Is the city also going to cover the costs of the increased wages?

I've read the text of 1A and 1B and I can't find where it says the city must find the funds to cover professional development for private preschools. 1A would certainly require this training and certification but I don't believe the city is on the hook for a single dime (over than any preschools they currently run).

Please help me.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lynn, the way I read it, they will try to have some kind of set-asides (plus locations may play a key - if one isn't located near you, you are unlikely to get in).

SWK, I meant for caregivers, not preschool teachers. I believe 1A's training institute is for any caregiver (does that include preschool teachers? I don't think so.). The City will be paying for that training institute (it's a key issue between the two propositions).

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I'm not sure what distinction you're trying to make between caregivers and preschool teachers. With that said, the text of I-107 says that all child care teachers and staff will be required to take enhanced training and that this training must be taken through the union Professional Development Institute.

And while the city would be on the hook for supporting the institute, nowhere in the proposition language does it say that this training will be provided at no cost to child care providers.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

What would be the point of creating the institute and then charge caregivers?

Good question.

But again, 1B requires more as well.