The Seattle Promise: K-12 and Early Learning

Jenny’s Affordable Seattle Agenda

Eliminating opportunity gaps for all young people

All children, especially students of color, growing up in the City of Seattle should have the educational opportunity, community support, and services to achieve their full potential.

While the City of Seattle does not run the public schools, I believe the City of Seattle should be Seattle Public School’s strongest partner in ensuring that children from every neighborhood and background can reach their full potential.  In particular, we will support children and their families when kids are out of school and through early learning programs. But this also must extend all the way into college and career readiness.

I am committed to ensuring that City of Seattle education programs and initiatives are focused on eliminating opportunity gaps for all young people, especially students of color, homeless youth, and all other historically underserved youth and opportunity youth. In particular, we should be focused on increasing diversity and mobility across the city (i.e., reducing income and racial segregation), supporting parents and households, public safety, and opportunities for income growth for working families — all characteristics associated with communities that have improved economic mobility.

Furthermore, we will make sure that taxpayer dollars are well spent and our kids are well served by ensuring that all programs are focused on concrete outcomes, using evidence-based approaches and qualitative feedback for youth and data where appropriate. Funding of pilots and new program approaches must be a priority with appropriate measures taken to track and monitor success.

If elected Mayor, I will

1. Use city facilities to expand access

  • Utilize data to determine where there are “child care deserts” in Seattle and use surplus city spaces and other resources to ensure that child care and early learning opportunities are accessible and neighborhood based for families that need them.
  • Work with Seattle Public Schools and organizations such as the College Success Foundation and other community partners to ensure timely programming in schools and community sites — that support students in their next steps after high school.  For example: In the fall ensure that students have help filing FAFSA and WAFSA.

2. Equipping Parents

  • Through the Office of Education highlight exemplar schools and districts that model family engagement in all neighborhoods of the city, with specific focus in underrepresented communities and culturally informed models of engagement.
  • Create pathways for families to understand city and district support for their children and make sure that there are systems that are built out to support communities that are the least represented in educational systems.
  • Introduce parent education programming that provides advocacy training and support for parents — with particular focus on low-income and immigrant communities
  • Expand funding for parent engagement through in-home visits — to include low-income and immigrant communities — that would support early learning, health, and otherwise connect families to available resources and services
  • Acknowledge the critical importance of parents as their child’s first teacher and provide community based opportunities, supported by neighborhood leaders, to support parents as they teach their kids.
  • Organize twice per year City-sponsored, parent-led resource fairs and workshops (e.g., Back to School or Summer Opportunities)
  • Organize programming for parents focused on early learning
  • Organize programming for parents needing resources to help their kids apply to and attend college

3. Summer Opportunity: Enrichment Scholarships and Jobs

  • Expand programming through Parks and Recreation, Libraries, and Seattle Center, among other options, to increase learning opportunities in reading, sciences, and recreation. Work with partners to focus on concrete skills in this programming, especially literacy and numeracy for young learners. Private sector and foundation partners are positioned to support these efforts.
  • Build and enhance the existing Seattle Youth Employment Program and continue to convene private sector and community partners to lead a city-wide effort to increase the number of summer jobs available to students.

4. Building a Seattle for All

  • Adopt and secure funding for the Seattle Promise, which will provide tuition (15 credits for 6 quarters) for students that graduate from Seattle Public Schools.
  • Reaffirm initiatives for DACA youth, specifically continue to support the Office of Immigrants and Refugees and continue to fund the Legal Defense Fund to protect our Dreamers.
  • Support Seattle Public Schools and their efforts to hire and retain teachers of color by sharing best practices in recruitment and retention across diverse communities as well as exploring cross promotion,roles and opportunities to ensure diverse coverage of opportunities.
  • Build upon the City’s Our Best initiative and ensure that there is a comprehensive City effort to support Seattle’s black young men
  • Lift up the Seal of Biliteracy through promotional and other public awareness building efforts to celebrate the success of students.

5. Connecting People to Jobs

  • Work with King County to expand on what is working with respect to TechHire, the Department of Labor grant received to expand the number of people in the pipeline for technology jobs, to include providing necessary skills and training
  • Strengthen pre-apprenticeship programs and career connected learning opportunities.
  • Partner with leaders like Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Washington Technology Industry Association and others who have embraced and built apprenticeship and internship programs.

— Jenny Durkan