Pre-K education plans for Seattle fight it out in court

Two competing preschool plans head to ballot

File photo (KCPQ-TV)

SEATTLE — A bitter fight is being waged in Seattle over how to create a new system of pre-kindergarten  education for disadvantaged kids.

Both sides agree that early learning is a key to later success, but they disagree on strategy.  And supporters of a union-backed measure are fighting the City Council for putting another plan on the ballot that forces voters to choose between the two.

Here’s a quick review of the two proposals:

City Council Pre-K Plan

  • 4-year levy; $43/year for every household
  • Up to 2,000 slots for 3 and 4 years olds
  • Up to $11,000 tuition subsidized for low-income families
  • BA in early education required of teachers

Union-backed Pre-K Plan

  • Not a levy; anticipates future funding
  • No more than 10% of household income for pre-k education
  • New training institute for teachers
  • $15 minimum wage for all day care workers and early learning teachers

 

The real fight right now is about how these proposals are being presented to voters.  Leaders of Initiative 107, the union-backed measure, argue they are being unfairly pitted against the City Council plan, because voters will be forced into an either/or choice.  They have sued to have them split into separate questions.

“Both measures should pass, and that’s why we’re going to court right now is to give voters the opportunity to vote yes on both,” said Heather Weiner spokeswoman for Yes for Early Success, the union-backed plan.  “This should not be an either or situation; the City Council is trying to prejudge the decision for voters by forcing voters to choose.”

A judge has ruled that the City Council does have the right to pit the two against each other.  An appeal is pending.

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