Thursday, December 15, 2011

Quality Education Council to consider preschool workgroup recommendations Dec. 19

The Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) on Dec. 12 decided to support a recommendation to create a phased-in, voluntary preschool available to all Washington 3- and 4-year-olds as an entitlement program. The issue now moves to the Quality Education Council, which will meet on Monday, Dec. 19.

The recommendation for a statewide preschool program comes for the Early Learning Technical Workgroup, established in Senate Bill 6759. That workgroup submitted its final recommendations in November.

SB 6759 required the group to develop a plan for a voluntary program of early learning as either a part of basic education or as an entitlement program, to help support school readiness for all children in Washington. The final recommendations propose phasing in a high-quality, comprehensive preschool program open to all 3- and 4-year-olds with a graduated co-pay based on family income. The workgroup recommended a mixed-delivery system of providers, including nonprofits, faith-based organizations, licensed child care facilities, private schools, ECEAP and Head Start providers, school districts and others.

ELAC members reviewed the recommendations and heard public comment before deciding to recommend that QEC adopt the workgroup recommendations, with one addition and one change:
  • Adding a Birth-to-3 Technical Workgroup, which would use the existing state Birth to 3 Plan as its basis to focus on enhanced services for infants and toddlers.
  • Phasing in the workgroup's recommendation that lead teachers in the preschool program be required to have a Bachelor of Arts degree.
The QEC meets from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 19, in Cherberg Conference Room ABC on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. It will be webcast on http://www.tvw.org/. The QEC must make recommendations to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2012.