Why’s Pre-K Such a Big Deal?

Why’s Pre-K Such a Big Deal?

A battle has raged on between Seattle lawmakers and Seattle unions, AFT Washington and SEIU Local 925, for months now – so what’s it all about? Preschool. Might not be what you were expecting. By November 4th, voters will have to decide between two options on the ballot that both have to do with the child care industry. Here’s the thing, only one can get passed.

Prop 1A, backed by AFT Washington and SEIU 925, aims to improve working conditions by raising wages and creating a new training institute for child-care workers, while also limiting costs of pre-K to 10% of a family’s income.

Prop 1B, proposed by City Council and the Mayor, wants to take a first step towards creating a universal Pre-K by subsidizing Pre-K costs for families earning up to 300% of the federal poverty line.

They say the devil’s in the detail, so what’s the catch?

Currently, the main issue is that no one has any idea how much Prop 1A will cost. Prop 1B aims to serve 2,000 3- to 4-year olds through a $58 million property tax levy over 4 years, but Prop 1A estimates have huge ranges! The Prop 1A campaign says it will cost about $3 million. The Prop 1B campaign says Prop 1A could cost $100 million. That’s a pretty big difference.

So how can there be such a huge difference between the two budgets?? The problem is that no one can really know how much Prop 1A will cost, because no one knows how the wording will be interpreted in court. There’s no way to know if pieces of the measure will be viewed as mandatory or aspirational. (For an in-depth look into the financials of Prop 1A check out Publicola’s recent article on the subject.)

So why is preschool so important? 

The leading study on preschool is currently the Perry Preschool Project. This study took a group of kids from Ypsilanti, Michigan and put half of them in a preschool program and the other half didn’t go to preschool. They did this for groups of kids from 1962-1967. They studied these kids for several decades and found amazing results.

By age 40 the kids who had gone to preschool were 19% less likely to have been arrested 5 or more times, and were 20% more likely to earn and additional $20K. Participants were also 17% more likely to graduate high school.

This all adds up to an amazing public return as shown below.

If you can’t read the small print, that’s $12.90 return per dollar invested!

In summary:

Pros of 1A:

  • Sets a $15 minimum wage for child-care workers (3-year phase-in)
  • Certified training is required for child-care workers
  • Set’s the cost of child-care to a maximum of 10% of family income

Cons of 1A:

  • Budget is completely unknown due to lack of funding mandate
  • Does not currently guarantee any number of additional Pre-K students

Pros of 1B:

  • Subsidizes Pre-K for families earning up 300% of the federal poverty line
  • Aims to guarantee Pre-K for additional 2,000 3- to 4-year-old students
  • Set budget of $58 million over 4 years via Property Tax Levy

Cons of 1B:

  • Serves only 6.7% of Seattle children under 5-years-old.
  • Higher property taxes

No matter what happens the hope is to get more kids into preschool. That would be an awesome step for Seattle to take!

And, as always, don’t forget to VOTE!

This blog post was written by Tatum McConnel, sophomore at the Seattle Academy and Communications Coordinator with the 2014 Fall Internship.

Buses. Are. Amazing.

Buses. Are. Amazing.

Buses may seem like an eyesore and a drain on the economy to someone who doesn’t understand their importance, but for those who use them or understand their value, it’s easy to see how much they mean. Buses get people to work. They get people to school. They create independence for seniors and disabled people. They reduce traffic. Buses are hugely important to having a healthy and productive city.

At my first phone bank to fund Seattle’s metro I heard someone say, “The bus is one of the only places that people are together on a daily basis regardless of class, race, and gender.” That idea really means a lot to me. It shows how Metro in Seattle is much more than just a bunch of buses. It’s a force that brings together almost every kind of person that lives and travels in our city.

The awesome #10 Seattle bus goin’ up Pike towards 15th ave.

In the world today there are often very strict barriers between race, class, and gender. These issues are slowly improving but they’re far from over. On the bus everyone sits together . Everyone who takes the bus spends a few minutes of their day in the company of a greatly diverse group of people. There may not be a lot of communication or dialogue but everyone’s still there and together in the same space.

Just being in the same space as others and seeing diverse groups together can help change the way people think about others. I think that just by taking the bus people can become more accepting and understanding of others around them. It may be a small change but even on a very small level this acceptance is critical.

So how should you support this amazingly important cause? By voting yes on Seattle Transportation Prop. 1 on November 4th!

Seattle Transportation Prop. 1 will fund the buses and make them run more smoothly and efficiently. With this measure the bus will be able to reach more people and will better serve our city. Gettin’ people where they need to go. Bringin’ the city together. All good things when it comes to the Seattle buses. And as always, don’t forget to vote.

This blog post was written by Tatum McConnel, sophomore at the Seattle Academy and Communications Coordinator with the 2014 Fall Internship.

8 Facts You Didn’t Know About Voting in Washington State

8 Facts You Didn’t Know About Voting in Washington State

Voting! You turn 18 and BAM! Everyone you know is doing it.

In this case, I think we’ll all agree that a little peer pressure is a good thing. You vote, but how much do you know about it? Here are a few quick facts to get you started.

1. Women didn’t have the vote in Washington State until 1910.

And that was progressive! Here’s to 104 years of gals with ballots. Being the 5th state to o grant those rights, the rest of the country didn’t catch up until 1920.  Women nearly had the vote in 1854, but the movement was overturned by one vote. Sometimes one vote can make all the difference.

2. The first Washington State voters pamphlet was published in 1914.

Nowadays, the pamphlet is distributed to 3,000,000 households for voting in the General elections. Here’s to 100 years of non-spam, informative mail!

3. Before 1971, the voting age was 21.

In 1971, the Constitution was amended for the 26th time and the voting age was changed to 18 across our fair country. Why you ask? The Vietnam War. People were getting a little riled up about the fact that you could be put in the army at 18, but you couldn’t use your civil liberties to make your voice heard in politics.

4. The average age of an off-year, primary voter in Washington is 62.

Do you remember what you were doing in July and August of 2013? I know your grandparents do. So remember as you cast your ballot this November – there’s an election, every year, two or three times per year. (And yes, each one is important definitely counts.)

5. Washington State is one of two states to be completely vote by mail.

Since 2012 there are absolutely 0 polling locations in the Evergreen State. Ballots are sent out about two and a half weeks before the election. Voters have until the first Tuesday in November (#ElectionDay #Nov4th2014) to either mail their ballots in, or find their nearest ballot dropbox.

6. Voters are increasingly identifying as Independent.

This really depends on whom you ask, and at what time, since people tend to identify differently closer to election time and in off years. However, in an Elway Foundation study looking at a 20-year average, almost 40% of voters identified as independent.

7. In 2012, Washington State had the highest voter turnout in the nation.

Issues such as Referendum 74 (legalization of same sex marriage) and Marijuana Legalization, plus the fact that it was a presidential election year, drew a record number of voters to the polls.

8. In 2013, voter turnout was the weakest in a decade.

This was despite ballots being mailed out to every voter, making it more convenient to vote by mail. Let’s all forget this happened and make 2014 so much better.

Let’s make 2014 another record year. You should have received your ballot by now. If you haven’t, contact your county elections department ASAP for a replacement. You can find that information here.

Otherwise, pull that ballot out from under all those magazines on your kitchen table, whip out a blue or black pen, get busy filling in what may seem like a multitude of little circles, stick a stamp on that baby, and march out to your mailbox to exercise your civil liberties (and your legs).

Go. I said go. Yes now. Or at least by November 4th. Happy Voting, y’all.

This blog post was written by Leila Reynolds, sophomore at the UW and Volunteer Coordinator with the 2014 Fall Internship.

Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day?

Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day?

On October 6th Seattle lawmakers passed a resolution unanimously to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. But why should it be changed? Couldn’t another holiday just be created instead?

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He set forth on the Pinta, the Nino, and the Santa Maria to discover the new world, trade with the natives, and bridge the gap between Europe and the Americas; is what traditional history would like for you to believe.

The truth is that there is a LOT more to the story.
While Columbus did do those things his voyages also brought death, destruction, and genocide upon the Natives living in the Americas. As the Spaniards colonized America, they brought diseases the Natives had never been exposed to, such as smallpox. There are also many accounts of poor treatment and killings of the Native Americans that can qualify as genocide. (Read more about this here).

Native Americans have been, and still are, oppressed by white Americans and settlers in The Americas. It started with many acts of violence against them from the 1492 onward. Wars broke out frequently and many Native Americans were forced into slavery. In 1821 the U.S. government began formally uprooting from their ancestral land what they called the “Five Civilized Tribes”. This process is now recognized as the Trail of Tears.

This oppression carries today because of the treaties and treatment of Native Americans in the past. Many native tribes have been forced onto reservations without many of the other promises being fulfilled. For example the Nisqually Tribe, whose land was in what is today known as Washington State. Their tribe signed the Treaty of Point Elliot in 1855 and it took 2 million acres of their land, but promised in return the ability to fish in their “usual and accustomed grounds and stations.” When the tribe tried to fish in the Nisqually River they were stopped and arrested.

For about a decade this went on until Judge Boldt declared that the Native Tribes could take up to half of the salmon in their traditional waters. This decision affected any tribes included in the Treaty of Point Elliot. Even with this decision, many tribes, such as the Duwamish, are not federally recognized and can’t receive what the treaty and the Boldt decision promised them. The Duwamish have appealed to the federal government many times to get federal recognition and what was promised to them in their treaty, but it has yet to happen.

The oppression of Native Americans in the past has also led to serious effects today. According to the 2000 census poverty rates in the ten largest reservations average out to about 40% of families affected, as opposed to the 9% national average. This stunningly high rate of poverty is a result of the treatment white Americans have subjugated them to. We can also see oppression in smaller things, such as the name of Washington D.C.’s football team or the normalized cultural appropriation of Native tradition.

I’m extremely lucky to have been able to see and even dance in Kwakwaka’wakw potlatches. I’ve experienced the tradition first hand and I can easily say it’s something worth celebrating. As one supporter of the change said, “we can all celebrate life, instead of genocide.” Seattle has made a great step in the right direction by changing this name. Hopefully sooner, rather than later, more of the U.S. can follow this path.

This blog post was written by Tatum McConnel, sophomore at the Seattle Academy and Communications Coordinator with the 2014 Fall Internship.