Universal Pre-K

Erica C. Barnett at Publicola has the info on what the Seattle Pre-K proposal might look like:

Burgess predicts paying for preschool for all (or at least many—the program will be voluntary) of the city’s 12,000-plus three- and four-year-olds, only about two-thirds of whom are currently in preschool, will require a ballot initiative (Seattle’s preferred way of paying for critical needs like parks, libraries, early-childhood education, and now, possibly, preschool).

“It is a significant amount of money,” Burgess says, although he adds that he doesn’t know exactly how much. “One question is, could we start in year one or year two with just general fund money?”


Most of the kids who aren’t enrolled in preschool now, unsurprisingly, are lower-income or foreign-born.

Burgess says the city will “most likely start with mixed delivery from the beginning”—that is, some public preschools, some private, and some home-based—while the program ramps up.

This and the minimum wage will be the two biggest fights in the city. I suspect both will pass, but it will be interesting to see what forms they take. If they’re the least that can happen, well, that’s still an improvement, and still worth something. But these things can be so much more.