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City of Seattle

March 22, 9:40 AM click here to comment > 1

Council takes next step on Families and Education Levy

Yesterday afternoon the City Council gave their initial approval to the proposed renewal of the Families and Education Levy. The Special Committee on Educational Achievement for Seattle Schoolchildren, composed of all nine Councilmembers, unanimously approved the $231 million proposal, indicating their strong support for the Levy and its goal of ensuring all students in Seattle will graduate from high school ready for college or a career. The Council will vote on March 28 whether to place the Levy renewal on the November ballot. This is an important step toward improving education for our children.

A renewed and enhanced Families and Education Levy is a critical strategy in the Youth and Families Initiative, which Mayor McGinn launched in January 2010. Former Mayor Norm Rice, who pioneered the first Families and Education Levy in 1990, Estela Ortega of El Centro de la Raza, and former Deputy Mayor Bob Watt co-chaired this Initiative. The Initiative began its work with a series of public forums to ask the community directly: What do youth and families in the city need to succeed?

The Youth and Families Initiatives included five large-group community workshops, 131 community caucuses and a youth summit, and engaged more than 3,000 Seattle residents from across the city, who identified 1,202 issues and concerns confronting youth and families in our community. On June 5, 2010, delegates from the caucuses, workshops and youth summit gathered at the Seattle Center for the Kids and Families Congress. The delegates reviewed the issues and concerns and refined them to 35 priority issues, which helped guide the Levy Advisory Committee’s planning process for the 2011 Families and Education Levy.

The Levy Advisory Committee consisted of 24 members, who met twice a month from June 2010 to December 2010 to plan the renewal. Their data-driven deliberations showed that while existing Levy investments have achieved a great deal, it was clear much more needed to be done to ensure children benefit from a quality education in Seattle. Data shows that persistent gaps in achievement exist in Seattle, particularly for low-income and minority students. The Levy renewal is intended to address these gaps by expanding on successful investments in education, particularly in early learning efforts around poor-performing elementary schools and continuing deeper investments for students as they move through middle and high school.

All Levy funding is collected directly by the City of Seattle, which contracts with service providers such as the Seattle Public Schools and community non-profits to deliver services to children and families. All contracts include performance measures and incentives, and are overseen by the City’s Office for Education to ensure that money is being spent properly and effectively. Programs that aren’t working will be ended and funding will be redirected to other innovative programs.

We’ve got some useful background information on the Families and Education Levy for you, via the following links:

Posted by: Robert Cruickshank


Comment from Pamela Masterman-Stearns
Time March 22, 2011 at 10:47 am

Our experience, and the experience of our ancestors, has taught us two important lessons. First, our children’s opportunity to succeed in this world depends on their education. And second, our world is truly borrowed from our children.

But there is a problem here in Seattle. In our schools, Native American children still have the highest drop out rates and the lowest graduation rates. We have to do more to prepare them at an early age for school. Seattle has to bridge the achievement gap, and prepare our students for college and their careers.

That is why we support the levy.

The levy makes important investments in early learning. The levy provides the kind of “wrap around” services such as family support to at-risk students that will tackle the problems I just outlined. The levy invests in culturally-relevant support services for Native American families. The levy further invests in health services, which are often critical for urban Native American families who have moved from the reservations to Seattle and can no longer count on care from the Indian Health Service. Finally, the levy looks to the future and provides career counseling and summer programs for students that are critical to our young leaders’ success in life.