Update: On Monday, June 23, 2014 the Council unanimously passed Council Bill 118114 (including an updated Action Plan), sending the Seattle Preschool Program to the November 2014 ballot for voters to consider.
Welcome to the Seattle Preschool website which is dedicated to the plan for voluntary, high-quality universal preschool being considered by the Seattle City Council. The purpose of this website is to provide a convenient source of information on the preschool proposal and the public discussion.
Despite our best efforts, too many of our city's children are not thriving in school. Nearly a quarter of all schoolchildren in Seattle Public Schools can't read at grade level in the third grade - an early warning they might not graduate from high school. This statistic is significantly worse for our African-American, Hispanic, Native American and immigrant youth.
If we invest in our kids early, well before kindergarten, we can change this gloomy reality. Several long-term evaluations show that children who attend high-quality preschools are better prepared to enter kindergarten and learn. They have better high-school and college graduation rates. They have much lower levels of criminal behavior. They are healthier. And, they do better economically as adults.
This extensive and persuasive evidence from prominent experts, including the presentation to City Council in June 2013 by Dr. Steven Barnett of the National Institute of Early Education Research, leads to one conclusion: It is time for Seattle to make voluntary, high-quality preschool available and affordable to our 3- and 4-year-old children. It's the right thing to do for today's children and for future generations.
On September 23, 2013, the City Council unanimously adopted Resolution 31478, which establishes the City Council's goal of making voluntary high-quality preschool available and affordable to Seattle's children and outlining an initial plan toward achieving this goal.
The Seattle Times said, “Preschool for all of Seattle's 3-and 4-year-olds is one of most promising ideas to emerge from the Seattle City Council.” Download and read one of the letters sent to City Council from a Seattle kindergarten teacher.
When adopting our city budget on November 25, 2013, the Council added over $650,000 to jumpstart the development of the Seattle Preschool action plan and expand professional development for preschool providers. In addition, the Council unanimously agreed to foster the creation of a new Department of Education & Early Learning to elevate and integrate the city's early learning efforts so that more children are better prepared for school.
On February 3, 2014, the Council heard new research confirming the benefits of preschool and the importance of “high quality,” which includes evidence-based and play-based curricula as well as continuous coaching and support for teachers. On February 5, 2014, the Council received the Gap Analysis it commissioned which shows that Seattle has over 12,000 three and four year olds. Over 25% of the children are not in preschool or child care and little information is available on the quality of programs for the children attending preschool.
In transmitting the Gap Analysis to the Council, Mayor Ed Murray wrote, “I want to emphasize my commitment to Seattle being a place that is affordable for working families and where excellence in education of our children is a cornerstone of building a vibrant city for the future. This report reinforces my concern, a concern I know you share, that there is much work to do to make affordable quality preschool available for all . . . This data should motivate us to do better . . . I look forward to working with the Council on this exciting initiative and am pleased to present this key report.”
During the first week of March 2014, Mayor Murray, three City Councilmembers, and King County Executive Dow Constantine joined nearly 40 Seattle educators, business leaders, and other diverse stakeholders on a study mission to see firsthand the benefits of high-quality preschool across the cities of Boston and Jersey City. At the conclusion of the trip, the entire group met with high-level Obama Administration officials and Seattle's entire congressional delegation in our nation's capital to communicate our shared commitment to getting it done in Seattle.
The Mayor submitted a proposed "Action Plan" to the City Council on May 15, 2014. The Action Plan includes detailed recommendations for the program design and the associated costs of high-quality Preschool for Seattle. On Monday, June 23, 2014, approximately one year after Dr. Barnett’s initial presentation, the Council unanimously passed Council Bill 118114 (including an updated Action Plan), sending the Seattle Preschool Program to the November 2014 ballot for voters to consider.
The good news is that what's best for our children is good for everyone in the city. With universal, high-quality preschool, all of Seattle's children will have the opportunity to flourish and we will have a safer city, a smarter workforce and a brighter future.
Media Coverage on Preschool
Seattle Chinese Times: Survey of Seattle parents finds wide support for affordable preschool
Seattle Times: Editorial: Explore what works — preschool for all
The Stranger: Mayor and Tim Burgess Announce the Beginning of Seattle's Universal Pre-K Plan
KUOW: Preschool For All, A Sliding Scale For Most: The Plan For Pre-K In Seattle
Seattle Times: Seattle's preschool plan: Start small, focus on quality
NPR: What Exactly is "High Quality" Preschool?
King 5: Mayor Murray speaks at community meeting about quality preschool for all
PBS: States looking to expand preschool confront debate over results, funding
SLOG - Pay Now Or Pay Later - What City Council Learned On Their Universal Pre-K Trip
Seattle Times - Mayor, councilmembers visit East Coast preschools
Seattle Times - Make child care transparent for parents
The Pew Charitable Trust: Elected Officials Embrace Preschool, But Funding Is the Catch
The Washington Post: Why preschool critics are wrong
The Center for High Impact Philanthropy: Investing in High Quality Preschool: Q&A with Dr. Robert C. Pianta
Will Seattle open the door to preschool-for-all plan?
The Stanger: Legalize Preschool! How the City Could Make Early Education - the Best Thing We Can Do for Kids - Available to All Seattle Families
ParentMap Idea Lab: How to Build a Large-Scale Universal Preschool Program
Twitter: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Praises Seattle City Council's effort to fund preschool
Seattle Times: How Boston's preschools went from mediocre to outstanding
Education Week: Cities Seize Momentum on Pre-K Expansion
Parent Map: Education Matters: Is 2014 the Year of Universal Preschool?
King 5: Early childhood education and choosing a preschool
Science Daily: Roadmap for Implementing Quality Preschool
Early Childhood News Update Blog: The Evidence Base on Preschool
Seattle's Child: It's Time for High-Quality Universal Preschool in Seattle
Preschool for All - Excerpt from The Voter, A Publication of the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County
New York Times: Do We Invest in Preschools or Prisons?
KIRO TV: Poll Shows Nearly 70% of Seattle's Registered Voters Support Universal Preschool
New York Times Parenting Blog: Quality Preschool is the 'Most Cost-Effective' Educational Intervention
Press Release: Preschool for All Seattle plan passes Council Committee
Seattle Times Blog Editorial: Seattle closer to high-quality universal preschool
Seattle Times: Guest: Want great preschools for all? Look to Boston
SLOG: Council Holds Early Learning Lovefest in Support of Seattle-Wide Universal Preschool
KING TV: Seattle considering universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds
Q13 TV: Should Seattle provide preschool to all? City leaders push idea
KPLU Radio: Seattle Considers Proposed Universal Preschool Program
Crosscut: It's time for universal preschool in Seattle
Comcast Newsmakers: Providing high quality, universal pre-school to Seattle area children
Seattle Times Editorial: Preschool investment
KUOW Radio: Seattle City Council To Consider Universal Preschool Proposal
Seattle Times: Seattle City Council considers preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds
Seattle Times OpEd - Guest: Preschool for all Seattle students