The League of Education Voters (LEV) has been dedicated to high-quality early learning since our inception 13 years ago. We know that high-quality early learning can significantly reduce and prevent gaps in later years and have seen this first-hand through our support of South Shore PK–8 in Seattle.
In considering the two early learning proposals that will be on the November ballot in Seattle, we found a lot to like in both. Unfortunately, the reality of how the measures will be placed on the ballot means that if you approve Seattle supporting early learning, you have to choose one measure or the other—not both.
For the LEV Board, that choice is 1B, the initiative supported by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council.
Initiative 1B, which is based on best practices, will fund voluntary preschool for 2,000 children ages 3 and 4 in 100 high-quality classrooms by 2018. Lead teachers will be required to have, or be working toward, a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and will be paid on par with Seattle Public Schools kindergarten teachers. Most importantly, this modest plan will extend essential services to kids who would not otherwise receive them.
LEV agrees with many of the goals expressed in Initiative 1A, supported by our partners SEIU and the American Federation of Teachers. We agree that the cost of quality childcare is prohibitive for too many families. We have been consistent supporters of increased subsidy rates for childcare workers, who are demonstrably underpaid. We have championed access to training and professional development for our childcare workers. We also support childcare workers having direct input and influence over the standards that govern them.
But as a practical matter, the pay, training, and regulations that govern how childcare operates in Washington is entirely governed by Olympia and Washington, DC. Our state has spent more than $150 million over the past four years building a high-quality early learning system for Washington, including funding for technical assistance, professional development, and coaching for childcare providers across the state. We believe the best place to ensure that ALL childcare workers in our state are adequately trained and compensated, and that quality childcare is affordable to all citizens, is by continuing to support those policies in Olympia.
Please join LEV this November in supporting the Seattle Preschool Program. Learn more at http://www.seattle.gov/office-for-education/about-the-levy/early-learning/seattle-preschool-program.