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Survey of Seattle parents finds wide support for high-quality, affordable preschool

City of Seattle

Council President Tim Burgess

Survey of Seattle parents finds wide support for high-quality, affordable preschool

SEATTLE - City Council heard findings today demonstrating wide support for elements included in the Seattle Preschool Program based on a survey of over 1,300 Seattle parents. Conducted by EMC Research, the survey found 96% of the parents believe that every child should have the opportunity for high-quality preschool regardless of family income, and 90% agree that government should help families pay for high-quality preschool.

The survey also found only 33% of parents had their children in full time preschool and Hispanics, African-Americans, and parents living in lower income communities were less likely to have sent their children to preschool.

"We found that, regardless of background or neighborhood, affordability and quality are what parents most want in a preschool program, which directly aligns with the outcomes the Seattle Preschool Program will deliver," said Council President Tim Burgess. "Closing the opportunity gap for those most in need should be a top priority."

The survey was conducted to obtain substantive input from a wide range of parents and guardians. The Council also sought to discover why the respondents' children do or do not attend preschool and how many of those whose children do not currently attend preschool would likely enroll their children if high-quality preschool were available and affordable. The survey, authorized by City Council Resolution 31478, was part of a comprehensive outreach strategy to inform the development of the Seattle Preschool Program, which included input from stakeholder workgroups and other feedback from the community.

The findings were based on a live telephone survey of 1,301 of parents/guardians with children in Kindergarten through 3rd grade enrolled in Seattle Public Schools conducted March 4-23, 2014. The margin of error for the overall results is ±2.7 percentage points at a 95% confidence interval. Unlike most surveys of only 400 or so residents surveyed in English, this preschool survey surveyed three times that number and conducted interviews in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Somali and Cantonese. Nearly one-third (32%) of the respondents were born outside of the United States.

The complete poll results are available here.

[View in Council Newsroom]


Mayor Murray and Council President Tim Burgess announce Seattle Preschool Program

City of Seattle

Mayor Murray and Council President Tim Burgess announce Seattle Preschool Program

SEATTLE (May 15, 2014) - Seattle Mayor Ed Murray was joined by Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess and members of the education community this morning to announce their proposal for expanding access to high-quality early learning throughout the city.

"At a time when disparities in education reinforce the widening gap between those who fill the high-wage jobs of the future and those who struggle to make ends meet, one of the most important questions we face as a society is: what can we do to build a school system that works equally and fairly for all of our children," said Murray. "The answer starts long before our children show up for their first day of kindergarten."

"High quality preschool is proven to be a game-changer that prepares our children for success in school and in life. Preschool will boost not only the children but also our city with a stronger workforce and safer neighborhoods," said Burgess. "The evidence already shows us what to do; we just need to muster the will to do it."

The proposed Action Plan calls for a four-year property tax levy, raising $14.5 million annually to fund a demonstration program to begin closing the preparedness gap for Seattle's three and four year olds. The cost to the average homeowner in Seattle will be $3.63 per month – about the cost of a latte – over the next four years. The Seattle Preschool Program will be voluntary for providers and participants and will build toward serving 2,000 children in 100 classrooms by 2018.

The Action plan is anchored in evidence-based practice, acknowledging that program quality is vital to success and will be provided through a mixed-delivery system, with classrooms offered by Seattle Public Schools and community providers. The program will have the ultimate goal of serving all eligible and interested 4-year olds and all 3-year olds from families making less than 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level in Seattle. Tuition will be free for children from families earning less than the 200 percent of the federal poverty level, while tuition for families earning more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level will be offered on a sliding schedule with some level of subsidy for all families.

"High-quality preschool for all children will change life outcomes for our youngest learners," said Jose Banda, Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. "We all want each of our kindergartners to walk through the door on the first day of school – bright eyed, backpacks on – with the confidence that they are ready for school. We look forward to working together in a meaningful partnership with the City of Seattle to create the implementation plan that will change the trajectory of our children's lives."

"We at the state level are so happy that the City of Seattle is prioritizing its youngest learners," said Washington state Department of Early Learning Director Bette Hyde. "What is particularly exciting about Seattle's preschool initiative is that it aligns with the statewide system of high-quality early learning we are building. By using the same definition of quality, we are all measuring and encouraging high-quality programs in a consistent way. This is good for kids, families and early learning professionals."

"The foundation of a strong middle class, a thriving economy, a prepared military and a well-educated workforce depend on our youngest learners getting a strong start in life," said Representative Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle. "Research tells us that universal, high-quality preschool puts our youth on a path to success. I look forward to working with my colleagues here in the city of Seattle and the state legislature to increase the quality of early learning, and expand its availability and affordability to all our children."

The Seattle Preschool Program proposal is built on the high-quality parameters of the BERK recommendations (attachments can be found here and the outreach summary report can be found here), as well as the work of the City Council.

The Seattle City Council has studied voluntary pre-school programs since June 2013 and in September 2013, unanimously adopted Resolution 31478, which establishes the City Council's goal of making voluntary high-quality preschool available and affordable to all of Seattle's children and outlining an initial plan toward achieving this goal.

Seattle City Council Select Committee on Preschool will review the Action Plan and take action to place the proposal on the November General Election ballot by August 5.


[View in Council Newsroom]


National experts present new research on benefits of high-quality universal preschool; Council Committee readies for report on early learning gaps in Seattle

City of Seattle

Council President Tim Burgess

National experts present new research on benefits of
high-quality universal preschool;
Council Committee readies for report on early learning gaps in Seattle

Seattle - City Council heard more compelling evidence yesterday from national experts on the immediate and long-term benefits for children and society when cities invest in high-quality preschool. While national expert Dr. Steven Barnett presented similar preschool benefits to the Council in June 2013, Monday's presentation by Dr. Hirokazu Yoshikawa and Dr. Christina Weiland further validates those benefits with the most recent research.

  • For each $1 invested in high-quality preschool, society can reap up to $5 in return.
  • Children make larger gains when quality is higher, as seen with:
    • Evidence-based curricula proven to produce social-emotional and learning gains
    • Warm, responsive teacher-child interactions
    • Teachers encouraging children to speak - "serve and return" conversation.
  • Both low-income and middle-income children benefit with school readiness and longer-term outcomes.

Supporting Documents:

  1. New Research on the Benefits of Universal Preschool
  2. Executive Summary -- Evidence Base on Preschool Education
  3. Evidence Base on Preschool Education
  4. Boston Universal Preschool Video
  5. Boston Universal Preschool Study

The new research from the professors lays the groundwork for Wednesday's Council Committee discussion of early learning gaps in Seattle.

WHAT: Gap Analysis and Draft Outreach Strategy of Preschool for All

WHEN: 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, February 5 (preschool items likely starting at 10:00 a.m.)

WHERE: City Council Chambers, Seattle City Hall, 2nd Fl, 600 Fourth Ave, Seattle

WHO: Council's Education & Governance Committee, the City's Office for Education, and BERK Consulting

The City Council requested the Gap Analysis when it unanimously adopted its preschool Resolution 31478 on September 23, 2013. That Resolution establishes the city's goal of offering high-quality, affordable preschool to all three- and four-year olds in Seattle and calls for an Action Plan to get it done.

Several jurisdictions, including Boston, San Francisco, the State of Oklahoma, the State of West Virginia, and 31 local districts in New Jersey, are already implementing high-quality preschool open to all children and, according to independent studies, the participating children are achieving the intended positive outcomes. Seattle's Preschool for All efforts will determine the feasibility of achieving similar social justice, early learning impacts throughout our city.

Supporting Documents:

  1. Gap Analysis Report with Appendix
  2. Outreach Strategy draft
  3. Outreach handout

More information can be found at the City Council's preschool website: http://www.seattle.gov/council/issues/PreschoolforAll/default.html

[View in Council Newsroom]