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Sorting out the opposing pre-K measures on the November ballot

"Children at Broadway Playfield, 1918" (Image: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr)

“Children at Broadway Playfield, 1918” (Image: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr)

Two competing preschool measures will be up for a vote come November 4th. Both Prop 1A and Prop 1B support a using some tax dollars to support and expand private pre-K programs with the aim of eventually putting all Seattle’s kids through voluntary preschool, but the measures differ on several key points. And only one has the mayor’s backing.

You’ll have to answer two questions that will look like this on your ballot:

1. Should either of these measures be enacted into law?

– Yes
– No

2. Regardless of whether you voted yes or no above, if one of these measures is enacted, which one should it be?

– Proposition 1A
– Proposition 1B

If “no” wins on the first question, nothing happens. If “yes” wins, then either 1A or 1B will be enacted depending on which one garnered the most votes. Got it? OK, here’s what they do…

Prop 1A (aka Initiative 107) is a union-backed plan that seeks to regulate preschools under a new city program and ramp up pre-K teacher certification, pay, and training but with no dedicated funding source. All some pre-K educators would get a $15 an hour minimum wage starting in 2015 — about three years ahead of the city’s current minimum wage schedule.  Prop 1A would also seek to cap preschool costs at 10% of a family’s household income. The measure mandates that a longstanding “provider organization” would facilitate the program and be directly involved with a new “professional development institute” to educate new and existing teachers.

Opponents of 1A say the measure would put the city on the hook for $100 million with no way to pay for it. The measure has also been criticized as a way for its main backer, SEIU Local 925, to insert itself directly into the program through the “provider organization” role.

Prop 1B, backed by Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council, proposes a property tax increase to create a 4-year pilot program to provide tuition-free pre-K for a quarter of Seattle’s 3- and- 4-year-olds and make subsidies available for the rest. Under the mayor’s plan, the city and an oversight committee would implement and manage the program. Murray has repeatedly said that implementing universal preschool in Seattle would be the most important thing he will do as mayor.

Thursday, Murray is holding a press conference “joined by early education leaders” from the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and El Centro De La Raza “to explain the key differences” between the competing propositions.

Opponents of 1B say the plan is not broad enough and doesn’t do enough to address affordability. For what it’s worth, Prop 1B is endorsed by the Seattle Times and The Stranger.

In a heated June meeting, the City Council decided to send both measures to the ballot to compete against each other. Backers of Prop 1A hoped to incorporate their plan into the mayor’s initiative. A judge also decided the measures should face an either-or vote after in response to a lawsuit filed by Prop 1A supporters.

Out of the roughly 12,300 preschool-aged kids in the city, between a quarter and a third are not enrolled in any type of formal preschool program. A “gap analysis” study released by the city in January showed poor children and children of color are vastly underserved. There is also a need for child care in neighborhoods like Capitol Hill where some residential enclaves are chock full of youngsters but offer only a limited number of child care slots.

Screen-Shot-2014-05-22-at-12.08.39-PM-400x393If one of the two measures passes, where new pre-K classrooms will be located is still up in the air, but the planned community space to be included in development around the centrally located Capitol Hill light rail station might provide one opportunity. According to a community survey, respondents said child care and preschool were among the services they’d like to see in the new Transit Oriented Development sites. There is also a need for child care in neighborhoods like Capitol Hill where some residential enclaves are chock full of youngsters but offer only a limited number of child care slots.

If you still have questions or want to hash it out with Capitol Hill residents, consider heading to Thursday night’s Capitol Hill Community Council meeting where representatives for Prop 1A and Prop 1B will be attending.

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3 thoughts on “Sorting out the opposing pre-K measures on the November ballot

  1. What a mess. In fact, the whole initiative situation this cycle is a mess. Now I understand why some states don’t allow ballot initiatives.

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