The roadmap for Seattle’s preschool plan

SEATTLE -- Seattle’s first publicly subsidized preschools will open next fall.  Voters approved the historic program earlier this month by a wide margin.

On Wednesday, Mayor Ed Murray savored the victory and laid out just how the program is going to work.  The ambitious goal is the end the achievement gap between white and minority students.

“Quality preschool is going to make a very real difference for the kids who are here at this Boy’s and Girl’s Club,” said Murray, who was in the southeastern part of the city.  “Their reality is about to change.”

The mayor said the city will host six meetings in the coming weeks to get community feedback on the pre-k plan, including what kind of curriculum parents and others want to see.

The program approved by voters is modest.  It will serve only 200 students next year and ramp up to 2,000 after four years.  Though only a fraction of the city’s 3- and 4-year-olds will be able to take part, the mayor says that’s by design.

“We’re starting small, so we can figure out how we can get this right,” Murray said.  “We’ve learned from Boston and New Jersey.  It was a rough start.”

With the mayor determined not to fail, it’s likely that the new pre-k plan will be one of the most micro-managed programs around.  Lots of attention to detail, including curriculum, to make sure Seattle doesn’t become one of those cities where pre-k has faltered.

Here are some of the plan details that were talked about Wednesday:

    It’s going to take years to determine if the program actually reduces the achievement gap and improves high school graduation rates.