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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: preschool

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August 27, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Child care costs in King County among highest in nation

Child care costs in King County are among the highest in the nation, but it’s not because child care providers are making out like bandits, according to a report issued today by Puget Sound Sage, a nonprofit that advocates for low-income families.

One example of how high costs are here: A single mother making $33,500 a year, the median income in King County, makes too much money for a subsidy. But she would have to spend 52 percent of her salary to cover the market rate for one infant at a child care center, according to the report, authored by Nicole Vallestero Keenan, policy director for Puget Sound Sage.

Graphic courtesy Puget Sound Sage

Graphic courtesy Puget Sound Sage

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Child care, early ed, preschool

July 29, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Preschool for all kids? Business leaders get campaign preview

Anh Tuan Ta, 4, second from right, and Jimwel Pelaez, 3, far right, lay out plans before they construct their "spiky space needle" during an open-ended activity session at the Denise Louie Education Center in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times.

Children participate in an open-ended activity session at the Denise Louie Education Center in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times.

In a preview of what’s to come this fall, three high-level speakers debated Seattle’s proposal to pay for universal preschool in front of a roomful of business leaders.

Voters will weigh in Nov. 4 on whether to fund a four-year pilot providing high-quality pre-K education to 2,000 4-year-olds. Total cost: $58 million, to be paid through property-tax increases.

The effort would align Seattle with numerous cities and states funding early-learning initiatives, from San Francisco to Florida. All are responding to compelling evidence about the benefits of preschool for young children. But many are also wrestling with significant questions about the staying power of those gains.

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July 8, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Is preschool effective? Some good signs for incoming class of 2028

For the 9,800 children in Washington who attended the state’s preschool program this past school year, the challenges went well beyond learning to count and identify letters.

Nearly half  4,112  live in families with incomes that are half of what the federal government considers the poverty line. Roughly 10 percent are homeless, 13 percent have at least one parent with mental health issues, and for 12 percent of them, one or more of their parents never finished middle school, much less high school.

But a report from the state’s Department of Early Learning suggests that the Washington Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) is making a big difference in these 3- and 4-year-olds’ lives – emotionally, physically, and academically.

The report looks at the results from a new tool that the preschool teachers are using to rate everything from how well their students follow directions to how well they know the alphabet.

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May 15, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Guest: Here’s what quality pre-K looks — and sounds — like

matthew o'connor2

Matthew O’Connor

People in Seattle like to make noise — and the most recent NFL season proved it. The record-setting decibels produced by fans at CenturyLink Field are a point of pride in our city.

When opening the door to my pre-kindergarten classroom, a visitor is met with a similar wall of sound. A group of children in the classroom library is performing readers’ theatre, generating the “next chapter” of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

“Maybe Goldilocks writes a letter to the bears saying ‘I’m sorry for eating your food!’” says Sydnie. A separate group is constructing what the students have decided is a food-stirring machine out of wooden blocks. “Make sure the button says ‘start’ on it!” shouts Emile, calling across the classroom to Mekhi at the writing desk, who furrows his brow and places pencil to a scrap of purple paper, saying the word start to himself slowly to parse the sounds he hears. Mekhi later tapes this scrap to the food-stirring machine, and the group declares it complete and fully functional, although its purpose and product is still up for heated debate.

It is a frenetic scene to witness — some might even call it chaos. But it is a carefully orchestrated chaos, a barely restrained madness that, when all parts are moving just right, can result in powerful change for these students. This change is rooted in something so simple: words.

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Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: early education, early learning, Matthew O'Connor

February 6, 2014 at 5:00 AM

New preschool will teach children in Vietnamese and English

preschool

Courtesy Hoa Mai Vietnamese Bilingual Preschool

Three Seattle organizations have joined forces to open the first Vietnamese-English dual-language preschool in the city, and likely the first in the state.

The Hoa Mai Vietnamese Bilingual Preschool is scheduled to open this fall near the Mount Baker light rail station and is already accepting applications. The first open house is scheduled for Feb. 28.

The preschool grew out of discussions with Seattle’s Vietnamese community. Many parents were dismayed that their children were growing up without knowing the Vietnamese language and culture, said James Hong, director of operations at the Vietnamese Friendship Association. The association, working with Sound Child Care Solutions and Artspace, decided to open a dual-language preschool to help address that concern.

Some parents worried that young children learning two languages might not master either, Hong said, but “research we looked at … shows it pays off in the end.

“It was exciting for us to learn that a child can learn two languages at the same time and not fall behind,” he said.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: dual-language, early learning, early-childhood education

January 30, 2014 at 5:00 AM

How Boston’s preschools went from mediocre to outstanding

Corrected version

Preschool has a high profile these days, with many government leaders, from President Obama on down, pushing for more — and better — early childhood programs.

The Seattle City Council, for example, is considering joining a handful of other municipalities across the nation that make preschool available to every 3- and 4-year-old, regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

As part of the city of Seattle’s discussions about preschool, Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess has organized a hearing next week where two researchers will discuss their recent studies on the value of preschool. One of those studies focuses on the program in Boston Public Schools, which Burgess and others see as possible model for Seattle. To date, Boston’s program has seen some of the best success in preparing students for school, the researchers say.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Boston Public Schools, early ed, early-childhood education

January 14, 2014 at 3:39 PM

To raise quality of early learning, proposed carrots and a stick

State Rep. Ross Hunter (Photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

State Rep. Ross Hunter (Photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Enrolling a child in a high-quality child care can easily cost $15,000-$20,000 a year, especially in the Seattle area. Most families can’t afford that, even if they qualify for federal or state subsidies.

Throughout Washington state, only about 30 percent of children attend programs that have earned a score of 3 or better on the state’s voluntary child-care rating system, said state Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

Yet a growing body of research suggests that quality matters when it comes to preparing children for kindergarten — and that low-income children may have the most to gain.

So how can Washington get higher-quality care for more of its youngest residents?

In a bill introduced Tuesday, a bipartisan group of legislators are proposing a mix of carrots and sticks.  The prime sponsors are Hunter, who leads the House Appropriations Committee, and state Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, chair of the Senate’s education committee.

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Comments | Topics: child care rating system, early-childhood education, preschool

November 13, 2013 at 3:55 PM

Free preschool? 50,000 Washington children could qualify under proposed bill

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), along with 11 other lawmakers, today proposed a bill that would help carry out President Obama’s pledge to offer every child in the country a chance to attend a high-quality preschool. The bill, as explained in a story by Seattle Times reporter Kyung Song, would help states provide free preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds…

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November 11, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Question of the Week: How can we better prepare young children for kindergarten?

The topic of early-childhood education is picking up steam this week, following The Huffington Post’s report that Congressional leaders are preparing a bill to dramatically expand access to preschool for low-income families. The proposal would follow President Obama’s call for universal pre-K in his State of the Union Address earlier this year.

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Comments | More in Question of the Week | Topics: early-childhood education, preschool, question of the week