Thursday, October 11, 2018

Families, Education, Preschool & Promise Levy Updates

Thru the course of the last several days, I have participated in several debates on this levy. 

Here's the Seattle Channel debate with myself, former Councilperson Tim Burgess, activist Saul Spady and Nicole Grant of the King County Labor Council.

Updates:

- During the Seattle Channel debate which featured me, former Mayor/Councilmember Tim Burgess, Nicole Grant of the King County Labor Council and activist Saul Spady, the new party line of the use of levy dollars for charter schools changed.

Previously, Burgess said they had to wait for the WA Supreme Court to rule on the charter school law.  This is true and, if they strike it down, this will all be a moot point.  I don't think they will, though.  However, now Burgess says that the City just doesn't think that they can withhold levy funds from charter schools.  

I do not believe that to be true.  The State, because of the previous charter school law ruling that stuck down that law, recognizes that charter schools, while public, are NOT common schools which is the phasing under the state constitution.  Because of that, charter schools are NOT funded from education funds that all other districts get.

As well, I suspect the City could make the argument that because they are a ruling body that is elected - an elected Mayor and elected City Council - that any district receiving levy funds must also be overseen by direct elected oversight.  No charter school has that.

Now will the City even consider these issues?  Or will the Mayor and the City Council quietly wring their hands and let it go?

Letting it go means that SPS programs under the levy will see fewer dollars.  I suspect that means both K-12 programs AND K-12 health clinics.  And, if the WA Supreme Court upholds the current charter law, the floodgates will open with more charters in Seattle and more of them thinning that pot even more.

Not good.

The 36th Dems vote to endorse the levy but ONLY if the City Council goes in and changes the wording to explicitly give the money only to SPS.  The 32nd Dems rejected the levy outright because of the charter school issue.  

- I had said that the Pre-K program had wording about expulsion and suspensions.  Indeed it is in wording sent to me directly from the Department of Education.  However, they now say that they had explicitly said all along there would be a zero tolerance for expulsion and suspension.  They cannot seem to explain why, if there was zero tolerance from the start, why this wasn't in their email to me.

They also claim in four years, no child has been expelled.  That may be true but I think I'll have to ask for how many children have been exited.  I'm pretty sure I'd get a real number in that case.

- There was also this article at Crosscut by a UW grad student,  Shelby Parsons.  She gives some good data AND options that she believes would better serve our youngest learners. (bold mine)
Seattle’s pre-kindergarten financials don’t make sense. We can do better.

Seattle urgently needs a sustainable, universal pre-k program to equitably serve our city’s preschoolers and improve their chances of success in school. But the mayor’s proposed 2019-20 early childhood budget released last month is built on a financial model that’s anything but sustainable — and threatens to severely limit the number of children who stand to benefit. 

As part of my graduate studies in education policy at the University of Washington, I explored the preschool program’s financial viability and found that the pilot phase of the program will serve just 3,427 kids from varying socioeconomic backgrounds (instead of the 4,460 it set out to serve) from 2015 to 2019. It will do so at an average cost of $23,756 per student, more than double that $12,000 preschool market rate. To be fair, that’s partly due to the cost of rolling out and ramping up a new program — one that aims to meet a high standard of quality. But the program’s costs also reflect its high overall cost structure.
Ms Parson and I part ways because she thinks the levy should be approved and
we need to keep the city accountable to ensure that, in implementation, we use the available dollars as wisely as possible to benefit our city’s youngest students. 
 Yup, it would be great to keep the city accountable but it's near impossible.  It would be better to vote the levy down and get them to retool it into one that has the clarity that this current proposal lacks.

I again point out that Boston - the gold standard for pre-k - spends less than Seattle AND accesses federal/state dollars.  Why are Seattle taxpayers fronting all the dollars for pre-K when there are federal/state grant dollars?

I again urge a NO vote on Prop 1.

3 comments:

Robert Cruickshank said...

The idea that the City cannot bar charter schools from receiving these funds is absurd. And there is nothing stopping them from barring such a use and then fighting it out in court. It is obvious that Burgess and Durkan actively and affirmatively want charter schools to receive Levy funds and the Council can and must stop them from doing so.

Voting NO said...

There no mechanism for the public to influence this levy for the next 7 years.

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