Preschool Next Steps and Community Meetings

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Seattle Preschool Program
I joined Mayor Murray and Superintendent Nyland at the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club today to announce the next steps for development of the Seattle Preschool Program.

The City will be forming an advisory committee of providers, parents, teachers, advocates, union representatives, early learning experts and other stakeholders to provide recommendations for a more detailed implementation plan that is due to the Council in February.

The City is also hosting six community meetings over the next few weeks, starting with two this Saturday. Each meeting has a different topic area and is in a different area of the city. 

Below are the remarks I prepared for the press conference this morning:

I want to again thank the voters of Seattle for their overwhelming support of the Seattle Preschool Program. Sixty-nine percent of Seattle voters approved Proposition 1B, an incredibly strong affirmation that we are very willing to invest wisely in our children.

As we begin work on the implementation plan, we will continue our focus on the most important aspect of this work and that’s the quality of the classroom experience for our kids.

This focus on quality means:

  • Using curricula that are age-appropriate, play-based and proven to produce the child outcomes we desire;
  • Providing compensation that honors preschool teachers by being in line with the pay of K-12 teachers;
  • Providing in-classroom coaching and mentoring for teachers and staff and providing tuition support for teachers who want to seek higher degrees or certification;
  • Providing full day preschool of at least 6 hours per day, 5 days a week, along with before and after school care;
  • Providing classrooms with a teacher-to-child ratio of 1:10;
  • Contracting with preschool providers who have earned a good score from Washington’s “Early Achievers” quality rating and improvement system developed by the University of Washington;
  • Preschool classrooms that are economically mixed and culturally diverse which evidence shows are best for all children; and
  • Strong integration with Seattle Public Schools and their kindergarten to third grade programs so the kids from our preschool classrooms continue to a receive high quality education that prepares them for a life of learning and success.

We have focused on quality for several reasons:

  • After visiting and learning about programs in other cities, and after hearing from early education experts and reviewing the research, we’ve learned only high-quality programs deliver lasting results for our littlest learners.
  • Only high-quality programs deliver an impressive return on investment for taxpayers.
  • Only high-quality programs will be able to leverage more dollars from the State and federal governments when we’re ready to expand to reach even more families.

The work the advisory committee and the Council and Mayor will do over the next several months is crucial to the successful launching of the Seattle Preschool Program. We will all see the result of that work next September when the first 14 preschool classrooms welcome our children.