City of Seattle Pre-K Initiative

Here's a thread to discuss the City of Seattle's pre-k ambitions and their co-ordination, or lack thereof, with Seattle Public Schools.


Well kids, I held out as long as I could but I will have to interject here. Interesting that Charlie put this thread up as there are two items I would like to discuss.

One, the Audit&Finance Committee meeting for tomorrow has not ONE but TWO items about SPS and preschool. It appears that this is the going thing for SPS even as it is NOT their mandate. One item is about the Road Map project, the other about a P-5 created at Bailey Gatzert. The latter would compel the district to find money (somewhere) up to about $250K a year.

No, no and no. Get K-12 right, then come talk to SPS. Fully-fund K (so that parents don't have to pay) ,then come talk to SPS about preschool.

I hear echoes of the City's language in the language being used by SPS staff. It is clear that they have somhow decided they work for the City.

Second, I have written a rather long list of why I don't like/trust the City's plan (and will publish it next week - it may be being picked up by another media source) and, to a lesser extent, the unions' plan.

Please note the two plans - the City's and the unions' - are just completely different. My biggest issue overall? Those two groups should have worked to create a plan that all of Seattle could feel good about signing off on. But when I see that management/workers cannot come to agreement, I get worried/suspicious about what comes next.
mirmac1 said…
I found it interesting that Deputy Mayor (?) Hyeok Kim, who seems to be Murray 's point man on PreK, made a point to call their presentation a dialog up and in no an effort to push a "live initiative".

All the muckety - mucks were there, from Jr supt, all asst supts, etc.

An interesting phrase from the 2010 joint 5 year PreK-3 Plan that nobody knew existed was a reference to "blended and braided" funding. That's apparently when you mix federal, state, local and private funding. The city plan "conservatively" assumes only a few ECEAP and Head Start programs brought into the fold initially (with their funds of course).
Honest to God, this will cost the district (and K -12) parents in the end.
Catherine said…
Any one have any idea if these new pre-schools will fall under the DEL or state school standards? The facility requirements (and ongoing inspections/changes), training, and penalties for lasses are very different between the two systems - and I think it's an important detail.
Transparency Please said…
The union has a plan. Under this construct, pre the teachers paid by parents, or the city?

There were a lot of shenanigans around proposed costs related to the union plan. If I recall correctly, the union claimed their initiative would cost $1M-$2M. Murray/Burgess came up with costs for union initiative at $100M, but they will NOT release their budet. Odd.
Transparency Please said…
" Hyeok Kim, who seems to be Murray 's point man on PreK, made a point to call their presentation a dialog up and in no an effort to push a "live initiative".

It is a "live" initiative because there isn't enough space for the kids and many details haven't been worked-out.

Transparency Please said…
I absolutely agree with Melissa: the city and union should have worked together on a plan, but Burgess took union conversations behind CLOSED doors.

The union wants to educate 4500 child care providers. I've seen the faces of the individuals pushing the union's plan and they are truly worried about vulnerable children. If the union claims costs of educating 4500 childcare workers are $1m-$2M...I'd hope the funding would come from the Family and Ed. Levy. Certainly, it is a good investment. It is also worth noting that there is a new city government entity that is responsible for parks and will be getting new funding. So, the parks burden is off the city.

Why is it ok for Burgess et. al to propose an administrative structure of 42 people for 2000 students and pay administrators extremely generous salaries, but it is not ok to pay an individual $15/hr. Have I mentioned that the individual to head the city's plan would be paid $200K and many many more at or above $156K?

You know what they say about Karma.
mirmac1 said…
Catherine, there was mention of adhering to the DEL standards.
mirmac1 said…
Oh, there was talk of how the current FEL already had the PreK component.

Irony is, when talking about tuition assistance on intense onsite coaching, Miller notes that historically daycare/preK workers have been underpaid. Yet her bosses oppose I-107.

The City went so far as saying it hopes to offer tuition assistance to family daycare workers. Ka-ching! While many of us worry about paying for college, we'll be taxed so that others can pursue their Bachelors degrees...
Transparency Please said…
"Irony is, when talking about tuition assistance on intense onsite coaching, Miller notes that historically daycare/preK workers have been underpaid. Yet her bosses oppose I-107."

Let me just remind everyone that the city's initiative would pay $3M towards administrative salaries each year. Yes, 42 positions.

Another thing to consider: The city's proposal would require teachers to have 4 year degrees. This will displace single mothers that don't have the time and resources to attend college. There will be some funding for tuition, but unlikely everyone would get funded- unless, of course, you were TfA.
Transparency Please said…
Ellen Frede is one of the individuals leading the city's effort. She is also Senior Vice President of Acelero. Acelero is a for=profit entity that is revampaping Head Start program. I've asked the city if they plan on contracting with Acelero- Crickets. I've asked the CEO (or CFO) of Thrive by Five if the city will partner with Acelero and he didn't know anything about Acelero (?). If the city wants to partner with a for profit that is fine, but taxpayers should know. Bloated bureaucracy+ highly paid bureaucracy + for profit entity- very expensive plan.

The city's plan also includes transportation. Will the city contract with a bus company? Or, will transportation costs be embedded into SPS Strategic Plan. Are we to fully believe that the city will fully compensate SPS- an underfunded entity?

I need to point out that tuition will be calculated according to income. Is it the intention of the city to determine payments, collect payments etc. If the district takes on this work, will the city fully reimburse SPS? Or, will costs be embedded into the Strategic Plan.

The city wants DATA. Will the city continually demand that SPS change their data collecting systems?

It has been determined that school districts obtain best results. Can you imagine ?! The city will want the district to be heavily involved with Teaching and Learning.

In short, the city's plan is backed by Seattle's business community..Gates, Matt Griffin, grp that is involved with S. Shore. The city admitted that child care workers are underpaid. There are also vulnerable children under the care of many individuals that won't be included in the city's plan. The city's plan is shiny, bright with large aspirations. I wish the city worked with the union. Is it irresponsible for the city to forget about the 4500 workers that care for many many vulnerable children?
Transparency Please said…
Acelero receives multi-million dollar contracts to run Head Start. Please note that the funding is significantly less that the City of Seattle's plan:

There are RTT and Family and Ed. dollars available for preschool/ low income families. Why isn't the city stepping-up to pay these costs? Did I mention that the city is funding 8 individuals to work on the preschool initiative? Given past behavior, should we expect the city to reimburse an underfunded system to expand into preschool?

According to FOIA documents, the city felt the districts funding model was too high (?) and tried to explain that their model would adequately reimburse the district. Where were board members in all of this?
Transparency Please said…
Braided funding is when Head Start dollars, ECAP dollars are stacked with city dollars to create a six hour day. I"ve been told that Head Start is a 2.5 hr. day, but I've not confirmed this is the case within SPS.

Who will manage the "braided" funding systems? Let me guess...:)

Anonymous said…
The union's plan will lead to less available high quality preschool slots --- plain and simple. Yes, the union plan would require that preschools pay a minimum $15 per hour to all employees --- and that's a good thing. However, the union plan would also limit tuition to no more than 10% of a family's income. In other words, preschool revenue will drop and costs will increase. Many preschools will close. The union plan is a really bad idea.

And who will collect and oversee the tuition requirements? Will preschools have to ask for W-2's? Will the city? Will the state?

And, FYI, only the state Department of Early Learning (DEL) has the statutory authority to license child care centers, including preschools. DEL is understaffed now and don't have the capacity to adequately license and oversee current preschools in the city. Both initiatives, which provide $0 to support DEL, will further stretch an overstretched state agency.

The devil is in the detail folks.

--- swk
mirmac1 said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
mirmac1 said…
Interesting. Why does this "grant" memo, fail to describe who is behind this largesse?

possible funding for PreKindergarten classrooms aligned with the Seattle Preschool Program

I'll bet it's Gates. It follows their "carrot and stick" approach.

For discussion at A&F today. Won't be there. Somebody please go and scowl for me.
Greenwoody said…
Pre-K is a great idea with broad popularity. But the plan before us is flawed and threatens K-12 priorities, which shouldn't happen. If we reject both initiatives, this issue will come back and we can help get it right.

I am also concerned about the possibility of standardized testing being given to small kids.
Meg said…
I'm going to assume that the city means well. Because I do think that city-wide pre-K would be great.


Consider that the city is proposing $14.5M per year for 2,000 students. It works out to a per student budget of $7,200-ish a year, more than Garfield, more than WMS, more, in fact, than most schools in the district. So... just based on the cost, it looks to me like they city is planning on full day pre-K. Is it reasonable to expect 4-year-olds to be in full day school? Is it reasonable to expect Seattle taxpayers to fund full-day pre-K when full day kindergarten isn't funded? On the flip side: for most working families, without a program that spans the working day, even free pre-K would be out of reach.

SPS administration is, at best, both inefficient and ineffective. I can understand why the city might not want to entrust SPS with pre-K. BUT. The city is proposing having taxpayers pay for an additional education administration... which, what? No. No, no, no.

And putting any pre-Ks in the public schools is wrong. There isn't adequate space for the students SPS is required to serve, and there's not enough money to build enough space.

Ultimately, I agree with Melissa: the city should work to help SPS get K-12 right before hurtling forward with a half-baked idea that they're calling a plan.
Transparency Please said…

Is it correct to say that the city does not pay unionized child care workers?

The city absolutely has good intentions.

Now, the city wants 42 administrators for 2000 students. So, we're looking at approximately 1 administrator for every 50 students. Excessive? Any chance the city is using these dollars to lay a foundation for an administrative structure that would allow for mayoral control of public ed? Was it a coincidence that Murray announced the formation of an educational branch of the city government?

Say what you like, but there is a good chance Burgess/ Murray are laying the structure for more administrative structure within our school district. When it comes to incrementalism- Murray is a genius. Will Murray take-up Peaslee and publicly deny an effort for mayoral control?
mirmac1 said…
Even more per kid Meg because it's not 2K kids for four years. It will roll out in phases.

Yr 1 = 280 kids
Yr 2 = 780 kids
Yr 3 = 1400 kids
Yr 4 = 2000 kids

At $58M, that's over $16K per kid.
mirmac1 said…
Pg 12 here.

S'funny, Burgess wanted to skip Pg 24. Maybe because it presumes capturing $2.8M in Head Start and ECEAP funds by 2019.
Anonymous said…
Transparency Please, I don't understand your question: "Is it correct to say that the city does not pay unionized child care workers?"

I don't think the city provides child care services at all. The initiative would provide a pot of money in which new or existing preschools could apply in order to serve 3 and 4 year olds in the "pilot." It is the preschools that pay the workers, not the city directly.

--- swk
Eric B said…
@Meg, I think an 8-hour day is fine provided that only a couple of hours are "academic" (learning letters, basic math, etc.) and the rest is art, games, unstructured play, etc. I'm not holding out hope that this is the actual plan, though.
mirmac1 said…
Eric B. the City plans on adopting specific curricula.
Transparency Please said…
Hold on and wait ONE minute! From Mirimac's attached document:

"SPS Early Learning Department to develop a three year plan for P-5 schools, reinforcing principals’ P-5 pedagogy and leadership, collaboration with the City’s Office of Education to build a more robust PreK-5 working group, coordination with the Educare/White Center Heights P-5 campus in Highline Public Schools to benefit from their lessons learned, and improvement of regional communication systems regarding P-5 approaches."

Why is the city partnering with principals for preK-5th grade!! What business does the city have sticking their noses in K-5?? This proposal is getting worse and worse.

swk, I hear you regarding loss of quality private preschools. I've read the same to be true with models similar to city's plan.

Neither of these proposals are acceptable, but will voters see through all the campaign rhetoric?
Transparency Please said…
Here is the most absolute biggest joke (taken from Mirimac's document) :

This proposal will support initial costs of implementation, with the understanding that Seattle Public Schools will identify sustainable funding streams (City, State, and/or"

First of all, SPS does not have a stable funding stream. Second, why does the city want SPS to find funds??
Eric B said…
@Mirmac, I'd feel a lot better about the curriculum when I can see a copy. "Will develop" gives me no comfort at all. My biggest worry about this is that it will be 4+ hours of in-chair work that is totally inappropriate for kids that age, especially the active boys. Discipline/suspensions for preschool is messed up enough already without an overly rigorous curriculum.
mirmac1 said…
I agree! I like finger painting and circle time.
Anonymous said…
Interestingly Karl Alexander
Sociology professor, Johns Hopkins University who wrote "The Long Shadow" wrote a blog post which reiterates:

"Evidence shows that a high-quality preschool experience can dramatically enhance low-income children’s school readiness and eventual life outcomes.
But is access to quality preschool really a “sure path to the middle class”? Not by itself."

While I'm personally very supportive of preschool efforts, they simply are not by themselves a magic bullet for narrowing the opportunity and achievement gap.

When we still have pay for k in about 1/2 of our elementary schools and the legislature was just held in contempt for not funding education and parents and teachers have to rely on finding extra $'s (PTA's or grants) because basic education needs like classroom supplies and counselors and librarians and playground equipment and books and so on are not covered, I wonder why so much energy is focused on this one "solution."

We actually have a serious overcrowding problem right now and the very real possibility that our high schools will be forced into "split shifts" within a few short years, and pre-k is the "blueprint for narrowing the opportunity and achievement gap?"

What about focusing some political energy and funding on K-12 too?

mirmac1 said…
Yes Eden. Energy and moolah. I find out today that $1M in bribes, I mean, grants fell from the from BMGF for...any guesses?

I applaud Sherry Carr when she told staff, and I paraphrase, "we expect that the district (meaning staff and board, I believe) will establish those responsibilities and costs that SPS will agree to take upon itself BEFORE agreeing to any partnership."

I totally understand where this comment may come from. Through the many years I've tracked in this district, central staff has had no problem jumping onto the latest Gates or whomever wagon - leading to the explosive growth in central admin costs. What I (and I believe Carr) heard today was: if we get this grant and the initiative passes, then we'd use the grant money to fund existing or new central FTE to do...stuff. I was amazed to hear Herndon say "we could figure out what it really costs to run these preschool classrooms..." If you don't KNOW that already, then what business do you have signing onto ANY agreement or "partnership"?

The "special interest" items on the A&F agenda were just positioning for staff to tell the board "we kept you informed!"
Their consultant called it a "6-hour academic day". That may include directed play but that a long academic day for little ones.
Transparency Please said…
Gate's grant is just seed money. The grant wants SPS, not the city, to find a sustainable funding stream. We've heard this before.

Gate's "agreement" also calls for principals to work with the city's Dept. of Ed. to align Prek-5. Since when do principals work for the city? This is just another tactic to divide staff and pit staff against board.

The agreement would/should be changed and eliminate the K-5 alignment.. The agreement should be changed to fund K- that's all.

First we see Prek-3 alignment, which makes sense. Then, the camel, in this case Murray and Burgess, stick their noses a little further under the educational tent and want prek-5 alignment.
mirmac1 said…
BTW, I took note of the slick "Seattle's PreK-3rd Partnership" brochure stamped "Revised Final: June 2011". If you want to see it, check here. Yes, although City suits made it out to be proof of SPS-COS marching lockstep in harmony for tha last four years, it appears to have been a New School endeavour during the MGJ era.

I made a point to look at board agendas from 2010 and 2011 and found little to any reference to this project (during that period it was all TFA, MAP and test mania). No wonder the board members looked puzzled whenever Burgess pointed out how it's been a happy marriage for years.

This "integrated, aligned" (and embedded, another favorite staff word yesterday) partnership is one of the many that go on at JSCEE when the rest of us are just trying to keep up with student fees, budget cuts, and the crisis du jour.

I think that may be part of what Carr alluded to today. Namely, let's not go off half-cocked and find ourselves in a hole because staff did not do their homework and were off spending their time on working groups for the latest ed reform idea.
Anonymous said…
Sorry for not being as up to speed on this as I should be, but was the City's pre-K initiative on the long list of priorities presented to staff at the Board Retreat last year, when staff were making their case for how much work/projects would have to be shifted in order for them to investigate the bell change shift?

A related question- Was the investigation (apparently being conducted by Teaching and Learning) of how to manage enrollment/capacity by running high schools in shifts included in that long list of staff duties/priorities? I don't recall seeing it, but maybe it was there is some sort of edu-speak code?

For that matter, was managing high school enrollment/capacity listed as a priority at all?

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
oops - in the above post, it should read "presented by staff," not presented to staff."

I'm referring to the list staff came up to present to the Board at the retreat. I just don't remember pre-K being on that list.

- North-end Mom
Transparency Please said…
The city's pre-k initiative was not addressed at the board retreat.

As a matter of fact, the board was unaware of the city's pre-k project and staff have been working, for YEARS, with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on this project.
mirmac1 said…
That's what EVERYONE in the JSCEE upper income bracket works on all day.
Anonymous said…
So, for the pre-K initiative to not make it onto the list of staff priorities presented to the Board, it would seem that either:

1. It was such a low priority that it wasn't worth mentioning.


2. It was deemed a body of work that was outside of the governance/direction of the School Board.

If they intend to dedicate an entire year to obtaining data and feedback in regard to the bell time shift analysis (as stated in the August 15th Friday memo)...then it is hard to imagine that the time and personnel required to conduct the proper research and feedback regarding a major initiative like pre-K (which would involve input from early childhood learning, teaching and learning, budget/finance, operations, facilities/capacity management, and communication/outreach) would be so insignificant as to have not made the list of staff priorities. This would seemingly rule out scenario #1.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
My sister's kid is in free public preschool in DC. All I can say is not a freaking chance I would ever send my kid there. Nor I would guess would most people in North Seattle who have any other reasonable options. I don't know how much of their day is totally academic, but they give homework. Homework?!? Her just turned 4 year old is coloring shapes and copying numbers and letters. Some kids can, but it not developmentally appropriate to expect during the school day, let alone at night.

Seattle has a decent amount of fairly inexpensive options for parents who do not need child are for a 10hr +/- day. Co-op schools, parks & rec programs (which are inexpensive AND have 8:1 ratios - better than the 10:1 proposed. I think good programs should be available to all and would be willing to support a measure that actually seemed likely to maybe get quality (play based!) preschool to kids who really aren't getting it/cannot afford it (NATIONALLY even) but fail to see how funding a really long academic day at 4 (when we don't even fund all day K as it is) and subsidizing tons of people who already happily and fairly easily pay for high quality preschool makes any sense.

NE parent

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