A new poll by the local firm EMC Research, presented to the city council today, finds strong support for funding universal pre-kindergarten, one of a growing number of measures that could be on the crowded November ballot. But there are a couple of caveats.
The survey showed near-universal support for universal access to high-quality preschool "regardless of income"—96 percent agreed either moderately or strongly with that statement. They also agreed with statements like "Preschools should be required to have teachers trained in early childhood education" (93 percent) and "Government should help families pay for high quality preschool" (90 percent).
(When council member Jean Godden asked, essentially, who in the world wouldn't support universal pre-kindergarten, Seattle Office of Education director Holly Miller said, "There’s always going to be a universe of people, of families, who choose not to put their children into preschools, even if its free, even if it’s high-quality.")
Now, about those caveats.
First, the survey only talked to parents or guardians of children in kindergarten through third grade in Seattle Public Schools. That excludes parents with kids in private schools or parents who decided to homeschool their children.
More importantly, by limiting the survey so severely, the researchers removed a huge swath of the voting public—nonparents, for instance. It's unclear whether (or how much) including people without a direct stake in the question from the survey would have changed the results, but it seems like a survey of likely voters would have given a more realistic picture of how actual voters will skew.
And the survey didn't say anything about the price of the proposal, which, at $58 million over four years, would add $3.63 to the average homeowner's monthly property tax bill.
We have a call out to EMC and council staff for the poll crosstabs.