Affordable (Or Even Free) Preschool? Seattle Said 'Yes'


While Hy Kloc—who just last week was elected to a second term in the Idaho House—continues to gain traction at the Idaho Statehouse for a state-sanctioned pre-K pilot program, the city of Seattle has taken the idea much further down the corridor. Seattleites voted this past week to raise their property taxes in order to pay for a city-subsidized, voluntary preschool program.

The owner of a Seattle home valued at $400,000 will pay about $43 a year, which will fund select preschools to provide slots to families on a sliding scale. It will make preschool free for families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $70,000 a year for a family of four. 

Researchers insist that $1 of public money spent on early childhood interventions such as a solid preschool program benefits society anywhere from $1.80 to $17.07.

Seattle's vote has gained nation attention.

"What happens in Seattle will have implications not only across Washington state, but across the country,” said Mark Shriver, president of the Save the Children Network. “I think it will set an example. I think other mayors and city councils will look at the results, and on the state and federal levels.”

Seattle now joins San Francisco, Denver and New York in expanding preschool opportunities for low-income families.