Four years ago Mike McGinn made education a central plank of his successful campaign for mayor. Some observers scratched their heads, claiming that education wasn’t something for the mayor to work on. But the public was clear that they wanted their mayor to show leadership on education. That’s exactly what Mike McGinn has done in his first term, doubling the Families and Education Levy and developing new programs to support lifelong learning. In his second term, McGinn will continue to make education a priority by focusing on the following initiatives.
Preschool for All: McGinn is taking the lead in bringing Preschool for All to Seattle, working with the City Council to examine options to fund a universal pre-k program. He is also expanding the important early learning programs that serve as the building blocks for Preschool for All. These include the Early Learning Academy, which provides training for caregivers and teachers. It also includes the innovative Read and Rise program, which provides support and services to low-income families to help their children learn to read. McGinn has also expanded access to existing City-funded child care services and will continue to do so as funds become available.
Closing the Achievement Gap: McGinn brought the community and the City Council together to double the Families and Education Levy, investing in programs that are helping close the achievement gap in 29 schools across Seattle. Levy investments have seen immediate results, with significant improvement in achievement in reading and math. Mercer Middle School, for example, has seen increases of 16% and 34% in students who are meeting their grade level standards in math. McGinn will continue to work with the community and the schools to invest in programs proven to improve student learning.
Improving student attendance: Students can’t learn if they are absent from class. That’s why McGinn launched the Be Here Get There attendance campaign to reduce unexcused absences and improve student attendance. Be Here Get There is a collaboration between the City of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools, the Alliance for Education, Get Schooled, and local businesses which aims to make schools engaging and attractive to students by rewarding students for having excellent attendance. McGinn will continue this program and work to continuously improve student attendance.
Adding school capacity: The McGinn Administration is working with the Department of Planning and Development and Seattle Public Schools to bring new school capacity approved by voters in the BEX IV levy online as soon as possible by reducing permitting times. McGinn is also working with the Seattle Public Schools and downtown Seattle residents and businesses to find a suitable location for a new downtown public school.
Making college affordable with the Seattle Promise: College has become unaffordable for too many of our families. That’s why McGinn has partnered with Seattle Central Community College to launch the Seattle Promise, which provides a full scholarship at Seattle Central for anyone who demonstrates a financial need, enrolls full time, and maintains a 3.0 GPA.
Supporting arts education in our schools: McGinn is launching the Creative Advantage program to ensure every student in the Central District public schools receives a minimum of two hours per week of arts education programming, as well as support the purchase of instruments and other art supplies for classrooms. Funded by admissions tax revenues, the goal of the program is to expand the program each year until all students at Seattle Public Schools receive two hours per week of arts education programming by 2020.
Expanding job training: We need to lower barriers for those wishing to pursue post- secondary education or job training. Apprenticeship programs are a key part of our Seattle Jobs Plan, and we will continue to expand these programs in a second term.
- Pathways to Careers is preparing a skilled workforce for high demand jobs in Business Information Technology; Healthcare; Manufacturing and Industrial Skills; and International Trade, Transportation and Logistics. Representatives from business, education, workforce development, government and labor organizations discussed the importance of aligning their investments to make our local workforce more employable and businesses more competitive.
- Career Bridge works with felons returning to our community, helping them get the education and job training that they need to get a good, stable job. In September 2013 McGinn visited the state prison at Monroe to meet with individuals receiving help through Career Bridge. They are resolved to do better, but they are also fearful of the reception they will get upon release and what their future holds. We can make a difference for them, which makes a difference for our community.
- We are working with other funders and education leaders to expand the reach of our Early Learning Academy as quickly as possible. This approach will help all children read at grade level by the end of third grade, which is a marker for children’s future academic success and graduation from high school.
- The Mayor is working to establish universal preschool. Early this year he commissioned a study of publicly funded programs that provide direct support to children from preschool through 3rd grade, and a funding study will be underway next, helping to understand what it will take to achieve universal preschool.
- Mayor McGinn and the Office for Education are piloting the Read and Rise program, which is a research-based family and community engagement program that gives parents the skills they need to support the language and literacy development of their children pre-K through 3rd grade. The initial pilot will serve 150 families and will include training, support and books for families.
- 21 high-quality “Step Ahead” preschool sites have 416 slots to prepare children from low-income families to be ready to succeed in kindergarten. More preschool sites and slots will be added each year of the Levy.
- 29 elementary, K-8, middle, and high schools (chosen based on need and the strength of their program proposal) are implementing programs such as more math or reading curriculum, after-school hours, and more to help students succeed academically. Additional schools will be added each year of the Levy.
- 27 community based organizations receive Levy funding to support struggling students. In addition, three non-profit organizations are providing community based family support for immigrant, refugee, and Native American students and their families.
- Students at 25 schools have access to school-based medical and behavioral health services. Because of the expanded Levy, students at Mercer Middle School, the Seattle World School, the Interagency Academy (which serves our most at-risk students) and four elementary schools now benefit from health services. In addition, new dental health services are now available for students at high-need schools.
- The “Be Here, Get There” attendance campaign promotes and incentivizes student attendance. This is the third year this program has run, working to reach a goal of 80 percent of students with fewer than ten absences — since regular attendance matters in academic achievement. In past years, a 4% improvement was achieved.
- Students who know they have resources to attend college are much more likely to succeed in school and pursue higher education. That’s why the mayor has focused on increasing participation in Washington State’s College Bound Success program. In 2011, participation increased by 42%.
- Mayor McGinn is working with King County, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Law Department, the Seattle Police Foundation, service providers, advocates, and others to establish what is known as a “Family Justice Center” by 2014. Family Justice Centers are identified as a best practice by the federal Office of Violence Against Women and are comprehensive support centers for victims of domestic violence that include resources for guidance on criminal justice, legal, domestic violence advocacy, and social service agency issues.
- In collaboration with the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (which was expanded by Mayor McGinn in 2012) and arts organizations, we’ve established the Work Readiness Arts program, which provides arts-related summer work opportunities for up to 70 youth.
- Limited work experience
- Lack of post-secondary credential
- Criminal history (including juvenile record)
- Need for other basic supports (housing, food, counseling, family support, financial counseling) to maintain stability
- Financial obligations and need for immediate income
- Because of the complexity of barriers, these populations are in need of a range of comprehensive services and support to prepare for and access good paying jobs with long-term career pathways. Without this support, they may be unable to access the existing employment and training system, which is primarily focused on post-secondary education.
Read on for more details of Mayor McGinn’s extensive work to improve education in Seattle.
SUPPORTING EARLY LEARNING
SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS AND FAMILIES THAT NEED IT
For the 2013-2014 school year:
This fall, Mayor McGinn is continuing two successful initiatives for the 2013-2014 school year:
PREVENTING VIOLENCE, AND SUPPORTING FAMILIES AFFECTED BY VIOLENCE
JOB TRAINING FOR SEATTLE’S RESIDENTS
Last year we launched Career Bridge to work with felons returning to our community, helping them get the education and job training that they need to get a good, stable job.
Career Bridge will work with city residents with barriers to employment such as:
Over the next two years, this partnership will serve an estimated 360 individuals, providing them with training, wrap-around supports, and job placement services help them find meaningful, good-paying jobs that are in demand in our growing economy. Career Bridge is also being expanded to serve individuals whose limited English language skills are themselves a significant barrier to training and employment.