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Topic: early learning
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September 19, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Seattle is a step closer to becoming one of the few cities in the nation offering universal preschool. A City Council committee Wednesday approved a proposal for voluntary, high-quality preschool for all 3- and 4-year-old children in the city. The resolution passed by the Government Performance and Finance Committee authorizes the city Office of Education to figure out how many 3 and 4 year olds living in Seattle are not currently enrolled in high-quality preschool, design a preschool program to serve them and figure out how to pay for it.
Tall order. But it is being done in cities like San Antonio, San Francisco and Boston.
Besides universal preschool is one of the few things everyone at City Hall agrees on. Under Mayor Mike McGinn, the $231 million Seattle Families and Education Levy helps fund 20 preschool sites operated by 11 community agencies. This City of Seattle news release back in July reported another $470,000 for the city’s Step Ahead preschool program, bringing Seattle’s total investment in early learning to $62 million over the life of the seven-year levy passed in 2011. Learn more about Seattle’s pre-K initiatives here.
Both the mayor and the man who wants his job support universal pre-K. State Sen. Ed Murray’s mayoral campaign sent an email touting his support for the proposal. The Democrat was in the Legislature in 2006 when Gov. Gregoire proposed a state agency for early learning and a public-private partnership, Thrive by Five, which invests in early learning efforts.
“If I am elected mayor, I will work closely with Council member Burgess, other members of the City Council and stakeholders to ensure we put a proposal before the voters during my first term in office,” Murray’s statement read.
All of Seattle’s wealth, innovative spirit and focus on education ought to be called upon to make this effort succeed.
May 31, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Over the next couple weeks, lawmakers will attempt to negotiate a state budget and get out of Olympia. They’ve got their work cut out for them. Many bills remain stalled, even if they are common sense and deserve action this year. I’d like to start keeping a running list. Let us know what bills you’re tracking in the comments below, visit the Seattle Times Opinion page on Facebook, or send a tweet to@seatimesopinion using the hashtag #WALegWish.
At the top of my list is HB 1574, a bill to fund investigators for abuse complaints against disabled residents in group-home settings. The measure is stuck in the Senate. There’s no reason for this. The state’s Complaint Resolution Unit has a backlog of nearly 2,900 intake reports. Here’s an excerpt from our April 29 editorial: “Providers generally are not opposed to paying the fee. Matching funds are available. The money is dedicated to investigating complaints against supported-living facilities. And there’s obviously a need.”
Don’t hold this bill hostage. Lawmakers should move it forward.
After surveying my colleagues, here’s just a few of many other measures our editorial board would suggest lawmakers take action on during this special session:
- Pass SB 5242, the so-called “mutual consent” bill that would require a principal’s consent before a teacher is permanently assigned to a school. From our May 15 editorial: “The Washington Education Association portrays this as an attack on teachers. It is not. ‘Mutual consent’ is the general rule of professional work. A high-quality system should retain and reward the successful teachers and let go the persistently underperforming ones. There won’t be that many of them, but for the sake of the students it has to be done.”
- Spend more on early learning and expand programs. As we stated in our May 18 editorial: “Preschool is a benefit that trickles up. Research shows high-quality preschool saves school districts about $3,700 per child over the K-12 years.”
- Take action on workers’ compensation reform outlined in SB 5127. “Passage of this bill will also offset much, and perhaps all, of the $1.8 billion extra that the state Department of Labor and Industries says will be needed over the next 10 years to put the state disability funds on a prudent basis,” we wrote in our May 22 editorial.
What matters related to the budget would you like to see passed before the special session ends? Again, leave a comment, send me an email, visit the Seattle Times Opinion page on Facebook, or send a tweet to @seatimesopinion using the hashtag #WALegWish.