ON THE BALLOT: Seattle pre-K initiatives fighting for votes

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SEATTLE — Voters in Seattle face a big choice in the next couple of weeks, deciding between two competing initiatives to bolster preschool and early learning.

There were strong words Thursday from leaders of each effort, including Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who argued that his measure represents the most important thing he can do in office.

“No other prop proposal on this ballot deals with the way to pay our way towards creating that city of equality that we want,” said Murray.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the two plans, starting with Proposition 1B, the mayor’s proposal.

Seattle Pre-K Proposition 1B

  • It’s a four-year $58 million levy (about $43/year for the average homeowner)
  • Supports 2,000 preschool slots for 3-4 year olds
  • Subsidies for low-income families
  • Teacher training and education

The mayor admits that it’s just a start, but argues that it will make an important difference.

“The science, the evidence shows that if you fund quality preschool at age three and four, you change those outcomes, you see those children reading at grade level,” said Murray.  “You see those young people graduating from high school, and now we have enough data to show that we see those kids go on to get jobs.”

Seattle Pre-K Proposition 1A:

The competing measure, being pushed by unions, is primarily an attempt to set standards for the entire child care industry serving those from ages 0-5.

  • Creates a training institute for all child care workers
  • Calls for child care subsidies for low-income families
  • Sets an immediate $15 minimum wage for those in the field.
  • No funding

Supporters of Prop. 1A expect the city to come up with whatever funding is necessary to implement the plan.

“We agree with the mayor and the people in 1B that early childhood education is one of the most important things we can do here in the city” said Heather Weiner, spokeswoman for Yes for Early Success.  “We think that that shouldn’t just be for a select few kids.  That should be for all kids in Seattle, all 30,000 children ages 0-5.”

The way the vote is structured, voters have to choose one or the other.  It’s pitting a lot of people against each other who say they otherwise favor a lot of the same goals.

Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 4.

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