Solid Ground endorses Prop 1B for Universal Pre-K

quality-preschool-logoRecognizing the importance of providing equitable access to quality affordable early childhood education, Solid Ground’s Board of Directors endorses the City of Seattle Preschool Program Initiative, Proposition 1B, on Seattle’s November 2014 ballot (as proposed by the Seattle City Council and endorsed by the Mayor of Seattle). Solid Ground acknowledges the importance of childcare workers being trained, fairly compensated and having ongoing access to professional development opportunities.

Through more than 40 developing community responses to poverty, Solid Ground seeks to identify and work on root, or structural, causes of poverty. Identifying effective strategies to undo generational poverty, we are increasingly focused on the education achievement gap and equity issues.

Today’s best research says that early childhood education is one of the cornerstones of future educational and life success. All children in our community should have the opportunity to begin their schooling with a high-quality education that is delivered by well-trained, well-paid educators in a sustainable system with long-term capacity.

The measure being promoted by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council will create a pilot program for affordable pre-K that ramps up over time, emphasizes educational quality, and is priced on a sliding scale for low- and middle-income families. It will be funded by a property tax levy. Solid Ground supports this initiative and looks forward to working with the newly-forming City Department of Education & Early Learning.

While we are endorsing the City proposal, we are sensitive to concerns raised by the competing Initiative. The high cost of early childhood education has created class barriers to access. And the typical low-paying salaries belie the critical role early childhood professionals play in growing healthy communities. The bottom line: All children in Seattle should have equal access to high-quality early childhood education.

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New jail not best way to address youth crime

NoNewYouthJail_webSolid Ground is joining a broad coalition of community groups led by End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) and Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR) campaigning for community-based alternatives to building a new mega-sized youth jail in Seattle-King County.

While we recognize the need to renovate or replace the existing youth jail, we support the No New Youth Jail Campaign’s efforts to slow down the process and bring community leadership into prominence as we chart better ways to address youth crime. We believe the $210 million allocated for building a new youth jail could be invested with more impact through a modest facility upgrade, community-based prevention and diversion strategies, as well as the use of restorative justice practices for youth.

Youth crime is down in King County and the current facility is often not at full capacity. Therefore, we question the wisdom of building a larger jail, which would only reinforce criminalization as a strategy to deal with troubled youth. As an active member in the Equity in Education Coalition in Washington State, we are concerned about failings in our education system that disproportionately impact students of color and funnel kids into the school-to-prison pipeline.

We know from 40 years of experience as a service provider that disadvantaged families and youth need access to a broad range of wraparound services to overcome structural barriers to their success. These interventions and resources are more successful when offered before people get into trouble, not when they are already in jail.

Solid Ground is committed to undoing racism and other oppressions by examining institutional practices and policies that trap people in poverty and hold communities back. Investing $210 million in a mega-jail for youth would clearly reinforce institutional practices and policies that have wreaked havoc on communities of color and people living on low incomes. We look forward to supporting efforts to develop more proactive approaches to reducing crime and supporting youth in creating meaningful roles in our community.

More on the campaign is available on the No New Youth Jail blog.

Early learning: key to life success

Solid Ground is joining the Children’s Alliance and other members of the Equity in Education Coalition in asking Washington State’s congressional delegation and the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to incorporate the needs and strengths of Dual Language Learners into proposed high-quality early learning initiatives.

“Brains are like buildings – they start with a foundation. Birth through age five is a crucial time to give children the kinds of enriching experiences and environments they need to build a foundation for success – both in school and in life,” states the Early Learning Action Alliance, convened by the Children’s Alliance.

Congress is considering a state/national partnership that would expand access to high-quality early learning for kids ages birth through five.

“As our nation moves toward the promise of providing quality early learning for every child who needs it, we must ensure that programs are tailored to meet the needs of dual language learners who are the fastest-growing segment of young children,” stated Tony Lee, Solid Ground Advocacy Director.

iis-logoThe proposal would:

  • Provide high-quality preschool. A new state/federal partnership would invest $75 billion over 10 years to provide all four-year-olds living in families with low and moderate incomes access to high-quality preschool.
  • Grow the supply of effective early learning opportunities for young children. In the years before preschool, a new $1.4 billion Early Head Start/Child Care partnership would support communities with expanding the availability of Early Head Start and child care providers that can meet the highest standards of quality for infants and toddlers.
  • Extend and expand evidence-based, voluntary home visiting programs. Home visiting programs enhance children’s cognitive, language and learning skills, improve maternal and child health in the early years and leave long-lasting positive impacts on parenting skills. The proposal calls for $15 billion over 10 years for these important services.

Under the current proposal, in the first year alone, Washington is estimated to receive:

  • $61 million for participation in voluntary Preschool for All, helping serve 7,451 children from families with low and moderate incomes.
  • $8 million for evidence-based voluntary home visiting Early Head Start/Child Care partnerships that would help provide 18,723 children ages 0-3 with high-quality early care and education.

Watch this Early Learning Matters: Invest in Us video for more information.

As the proposal moves forward, Solid Ground is proud to stand with the Children’s Alliance and these partners in our community:

Community members are urged to contact their Members of Congress and urge them to support strong investment in early learning. For more information, or to get involved, contact Melissa Bailey at the Children’s Alliance: Melissa@childrensalliance.org.

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