By Daniel Zavala, League of Education Voters Director of Policy and Government Relations
Remember that time last year when I went over everything “You Need to Know about the McCleary School Funding Agreement?” Well, it’s time for a refresh. The 2018 legislative session was all about McCleary 2.0, or what we can call, what to do when the Supreme Court says you’re still not quite there yet.
Many of us were expecting a quiet session where little would be addressed in education due to budget constraints. Two major events occurred: The Supreme Court’s November Order saying the legislature was still out of compliance and a Revenue Forecast that far exceeded most predictions regarding unanticipated future revenue collections. The end result: Another year of legislators in the 11th hour hanging ornaments (i.e. piecemeal policies) on an omnibus policy tree (i.e. Senate Bill 6362) that likely created more questions than answers. My prediction: we will be back next year sweeping up the broken ornaments. And while we may fixate on the 11th hour scrambling, it is important to reflect on the successes we saw this year in expanded eligibility with early learning and college financial aid, increased funds for special education and the State Need Grant, and raised awareness of social emotional and mental health needs.
By Kami Smith
“What is ECEAP?” This is the question that I have been asked countless times and I still get so excited to answer it. While the boring, generic answer would be Washington state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, I never respond with this because to me, the name does not do the program justice. I would find it more aptly named if it were called A Family’s Second Chance, or just simply Opportunity Early Learning, because that’s what the program has meant for me and my family.
ECEAP is an early learning program offered to impoverished or vulnerable families with 3- and 4-year-olds. My family came to the program just two weeks after I was treated for severe anxiety and depression, and I wasn’t feeling like a successful parent at the time. I thought the least I could do was enroll my kids in a preschool where they could play with other kids, and maybe do an art project that I would not have to clean up after. I never could have imagined how this program would not only nurture and enrich my children’s lives, but mine as well.
By League of Education Voters Policy Team
32.6 percent of low-income five-year-olds enter Washington schools fully kindergarten-ready.
In comparison, 60% of non-low income five year olds enter school kindergarten ready.
This 30-point opportunity gap – unequal access to the resources necessary for academic success – contributes over time to the assessment, graduation, and dropout rate gaps currently experienced by Washington’s low-income students.
Washington has worked diligently over the past two decades to increase early childhood education opportunities to close this gap. National and state-level research proves that quality early learning environments – like the Washington Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) – can help close the opportunity gap. Even better, it does so with a $4.75 return on every $1 invested. One study that compared test scores from 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders who attended ECEAP to those who did not found that ECEAP alumni earned significantly higher math and reading scores – as good or better than the most effective pre-K programs nationally.