Seattle Hall Pass Podcast

E9 - Interview with Ron Davis

October 27, 2023 Christie Robertson & Jane Tunks Demel Season 1 Episode 9
Seattle Hall Pass Podcast
E9 - Interview with Ron Davis
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Jane and Christie interview Ron Davis, a candidate for Seattle City Council, District 4

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Music by Sarah, the Illstrumentalist, logo by Carmen Lau-Woo.
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Episode 9 - Ron Davis
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Christie Robertson: Welcome to Seattle Hall Pass, a podcast with news and conversation about Seattle Public Schools. I'm Christie Robertson, and today we're talking to Ron Davis, a City Council candidate in City Council District 4.

Jane Tunks Demel: And I'm Jane Tunks Demel. We want to make clear that we're not making endorsements on our podcast and that we would love to talk to other City Council candidates or current City Council members, or really anybody with ideas for how the City of Seattle and the Seattle school district can work together to do better by our kids. 

Christie Robertson: I met Ron Davis on the campaign trail this year, and since he's one of the biggest wonks I know, I invited him to come talk about City-District Partnership. Ron, welcome. 

Ron Davis: Woohoo. Thank you so much for having me.

Christie Robertson: We wanted to start with a broad question. What does a good relationship between the city and the school district look like to you?

Ron Davis: Yeah, so thank you so much for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to be here. 

The relationship between the city and the school district is a funny one because obviously they've got these sort of formally separate spheres. But the truth is, we're working with the same people and we're trying to produce the same set of outcomes, which is a thriving community full of people who are growing, safe, and ultimately reaching their full potential in life. 

And so that does not happen only inside the walls of the school or only outside the walls of the school. And so I think of this as the kind of situation where we need partnership, where we need to understand ... The way I think about this as a potential city council member is, "Hey, how is the city failing to support families in a way that is undermining the educational enterprise? And what can we do about it?"

And I think — and vice versa for the school district — my hope is to see this as an opportunity to say, "Hey, we are an amazing nexus with massive amounts of Seattle residents and their families." And so we get to spot challenges people are having. How can we pull in city resources to make sure our families are thriving? So I think of it as a partnership to make sure that we achieve the larger goal that we're all trying to do here in public service.

Christie Robertson: Awesome. That brings me to one of my other questions. Our Seattle Student Union has emphasized student mental health as one of their big priorities. What ways would you see that the city could help with that priority?

Ron Davis: I am endorsed by the Seattle Student Union, actually. And I think the thing that they have said is the most helpful to them — and I think it's probably right — is real on-site behavioral health support that at a ratio where they were. The access is good and direct funding for it, right? 

Direct funding from the city for it because right now if we were to get that out of the district, we'd be taking it away from instruction. And that's not particularly helpful. And the city has more elbow room for new taxation. And so that's the main thing on the mental health front that the Seattle Student Union has shared with me. 

I think adjacent to that, we should be providing access to to families who are, say, less likely to be served by that. And actually less likely to be served by many of our our services. The way I'm thinking about this is like families with ... either with children with disabilities or who are speaking different languages. There, I really think the city should have a one-stop shop that any teacher or administrator can call where translation services can be offered — and whether it's mental health services, whether it's access to food services, whatever it is a kind of a 311 or something equivalent for the schools. Because there's a way in which getting that ratio right will help us, but it's not necessarily going to reach the students who are the hardest to reach who have the most barriers. We also have to do some of some barrier removal and all of that, I think, needs to come from the city side, not from the district.

Christie Robertson: I've worked with a lot of parent groups where finding and funding language translation and interpretation has been a big hurdle.

Ron Davis: So can I give you a practical example where I've seen this done? So this wasn't in a school district, but my wife is a physician, as I mentioned earlier. And when she did her training, she trained at Boston Medical Center in South Boston. And I can't remember off the top of my head, it was like, they had a phone that they could pick up and they had 76 languages that they could get instant translation for and so whatever need needed to be met. 

And it could be difficult complex medical needs. It could be social needs. There was instant access for translation so that they could pair the expertise of whatever needed to be delivered — the language and the people who needed the services. And that's the kind of thing that a district is not going to be able to do, but the city or the city in partnership with the county could and should be doing

Christie Robertson: Right, and it works so much better at scale than trying to individually pull together interpreters. Awesome. Yeah, that would be so helpful. 

Practically speaking , and this goes to a lot of the subjects, but what kind of relationships between the city and school district ... like, how do you picture that practically happening? Who talks to who?

Ron Davis: That's a great question. I'm already talking to a bunch of members of the school board and in fact, I'm endorsed by Brandon Hersey, Lisa Rivera Smith, Chandra Hampson, And Vivian Song Maritz. And I have engaged with some folks in and around the union space, some teachers, some families. I don't have a really strong sense of exactly where the administrative linkages need to be. I think it probably depends on the issue. So I do think there should be council-to-school board and mayor's office-to-school board relationships as well as council and mayor's office-to-union relationships so that we're getting both sides of that story and to the end at the top of the administration. And then I think, depending on what services we're actually building that's going to be specific to a city department and whatever sort of departmental mirror needs to exist inside the city. So that's probably something that gets decided at the policy level by the first set of groups.

Christie Robertson: I get the impression that right now, a lot of stuff goes through FEPP, the Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise levy group , because that's where I think that's the main vehicle where the city transfers actual funds to the district. 

Ron Davis: Yeah. 

Christie Robertson: So tell me about funding. In terms of access to revenue, are you talking about that levy or are you thinking of other possible revenue streams for the district?

Ron Davis: Both. So I do think so yeah for instance, that levy, the renewal, I think it should be substantially larger so that we have a stable source of revenue to make sure that we're meeting, say, a core set of needs that we identify — say, translation services expanded FEPP, aid for families, and the mental health services on-site.

But one of the things that challenges us as a city and challenges the district is that our funding for these levies tends to be is pretty much exclusively property tax-based, which lands heaviest — it's either passed down to renters, lands hard on young families, and then for seniors on fixed incomes who are in houses that have happened to have become expensive, but often their taxes now are higher than their mortgage was, 30 years ago when they were paying it.

I also would like to see direct funding out of the general fund, which has the opportunity of accessing tax money at a more progressive ways through programs like Jumpstart, which I think should be expanded through the through a local top up of the new state capital gains tax on extreme capital gains and 250, 000 or over articulated a few other ways we could raise progressive revenue without, harming the business community.

I think we could. So I would like to see us both expand the scale of support but also the Source that money in ways that are more responsible

If that makes sense. But yeah, so I think that is probably like the standard levy and then it would be an allocations from the general fund. 

Christie Robertson: Yeah. I'm from the Midwest and it was a surprise to me coming out here to see the disjoint between the city and the school district because I feel like there's more, they're more integrated in some way in other parts of the country here almost like they're just two entirely separate. If you look at the city of Seattle website, there's there's no link to Seattle schools, even though that's like the city's kids that are being educated. 

Ron Davis: It's strange. It's almost because we've set them as a part as arms of government, like we pretend that the other one doesn't exist with except with the exception of this FEPP linkage that you've mentioned. And. That's silly, like I totally understand why, yep, different board it's fine, I'm running on, I'm running for city council, I don't want to have yet another thing that everybody's angry about at me, but but, I at the same time as you just said we are serving the exact same people, and their needs Do not like that, the human that walks in and out of the door, that school doesn't like shift does not experience a shift in jurisdiction that is meaningful in their life.

And so from a sort of, I guess the tech guy in me wants to say from a user experience design standpoint, this is just my local government and are they doing a good job taking care of our needs or are they failing us? And so I think for the consumers in the district yeah, the separation should not be evident in any way. 

Christie Robertson: mm hmm 

Jane Tunks Demel: and Ron, you mentioned the state legislature, because I'm just wondering how you might see yourself working to help convince the state legislators from our local Seattle delegation that we need better funding for Seattle public schools. 

Ron Davis: Yeah, so I already have built a relationship with pretty much everyone in the delegation that overlaps with district 4, as well as a significant number of legislators around the city. Some of this is about relationships and trust building and, persuasion. 

Some of this is about hopefully helping them see the political value in doing so I mean I as far as I understand it. I think there's some energy there and some recognition of failure to deliver on this. 

Um, Obviously, one of the challenges is beyond our delegation we have a complex diverse state. So there's parts of this that are out of our control. 

I mean showing up testifying coming from local districts and local cities to say hey like we need the state to step in. There's. We have the city look at this amazing extra stuff we're doing, which we're not doing enough, but let's say we go and do that. I think that having mayors and city councilors showing up saying, hey, look we're actually making real allocations out of our general fund to try to save our schools. We need the state to step up like we're in an emergency. I think it's powerful. 

Another thing I can do here to improve funding that I've heard from multiple school board members is make this an easier place to build family housing that people want to raise their children in. So, uh, family housing with Trees and parks at great schools, right? And there is a lot of wonkiness into how to accomplish that um, while maintaining your tree canopy, but I'll just say like, I'm the only, Person in this race endorsed by sort of the entire urbanist camp and the most of the tree protecting sort of folks because, um, I do have that plan.

And if we do that um, we know that given that we are property tax dependent um, that that will provide us a lot more students and a lot more dollar allocation into the district and make this a more family friendly city. So I think, so here we can do a bit of a. Direct funding, we can do some relationship building with our delegation, we can do some shaming in Olympia, and then we can make this as family attractive as possible to attract more students, and therefore the funding that comes per student. 

Jane Tunks Demel: Mm 

Christie Robertson: In terms of city planning level work like where housing is going and where transportation lines are running. Do you know how closely the city and the district work on those kinds of Plans.

Ron Davis: I don't have a great sense of what it looks like at the administrative level. I think in the comprehensive planning process, this is attended to, and I think on the transportation side, it's a little more attended to is the sense I have, and particularly in the safe routes school space where people are working on things like curb cuts and traffic calming near schools.

But as a general rule, what I, I that the linkages beyond that are a little bit weaker because typically where we see say housing being cited is really a reflection of political power that sort of mirrors decades of, what was formerly redlining and and so. That doesn't look a whole lot like planning around schools.

So even if those relationships uh, uh, exist, they are being overrun by other political forces. And so, um, so that clearly an area we could improve.

Christie Robertson: Do you get the impression that folks on the council know about , the closures and consolidations and boundary re-drawing that is coming up in the district?

Ron Davis: I do. I don't hear a lot of them talking about it because of This kind of firewall that tends to go up because wading into the politics of schools has political costs and when they feel like they can't do much about it. But you know, I think we can do some things about it and I've just articulated what some of those are.

It's true that we don't get to make the decisions about closures. And it is Really , depressing to see the trend really, , really disheartening as a parent, as a citizen, as somebody who knows that generally closing schools does not work very well 

um, and so, uh, but how much is it at the forefront? I'm not hearing it come up in a lot of council conversation. 

Jane Tunks Demel: I saw Ron, you mentioned sidewalks, cause since I live in district five, we don't have sidewalks up here. There's no sidewalks and even crossing Lake city way, even Lake city way doesn't have sidewalks in some places. And and there's no bus, there's no direct Metro bus that goes that way. So it would be. 

What kind of solutions, after the closures happen and the boundary redraw and because less kids will be walking to school because they'll have to travel farther. What kinds of things can the city do to help? 

Ron Davis: Well, so we have totally dropped the ball on me on non car uh, getting around the city, right? So often I say when I'm campaigning I want to make it as easy, safe, reliable, convenient and comfortable to get around the city without a car that is with and it's a fairly radical proposition. If you think about it. To actually take away the time, safety, convenience uh, reliability tax that is currently levied on every person that doesn't get in the car. Would mean Significant reallocation of right of way, it would mean significant investments in our bus frequency capacity and also building up our operators because we have a shortage there, and I am endorsed by the bus union, although more for public safety on the buses reason. It would mean building our neighborhoods with a disability lens so that people of all ages and all backgrounds can get around on foot or on a bike or on other forms of wheels and do so in a way that they know is reliably safe.

So there's a lot to that. But I would say it happens to be the same things that we need to do to make this a city that is More carbon efficient, more livable, has cleaner air, and they're the same policies which is that I need to know that I can get on a form of transportation that will get me from where I am to where I want to go and back reliably, safely, comfortably and quickly.

And the way we do that is by building a comprehensive gridded, essentially, public transportation biking and system and a, and. And then also allowing our neighborhoods to mature and infill enough to support local schools to support local businesses so that also people can meet most of their needs in their neighborhoods.

Obviously that's going to take a minute. We can't save, a bunch of school closures by suddenly saying we're going to build, but but that does set us up much better for the next time we run into this problem. Yeah, this is part of why my comprehensive. plan perspective is that, every neighborhood should be growing along with the city. No neighborhood should be shutting it out. Every neighborhood should uh, legalize what I would call completion. So the ability to have little local stores that meet most people's needs. Every neighborhood should have Vision Zero friendly disability accessible. Walking and biking facilities, and then we need strong frequent transit routes with protected transit lanes between these places, right. And otherwise we don't, we don't ever shift out of our cars, our air continues to be a problem, we have, we'll never come anywhere close to our climate goals we are way behind on our climate goals, just the climate goals to meet the like 2050 net neutrality not like some really ambitious "Oh, we're Seattle Green" like just Our regular just showing up, getting a C climate goals we are blowing right now.

And so if we don't do these things um, we have a serious problem. 

Christie Robertson: It's so awesome that the transportation was made free for youth. my kiddo takes the bus . And, it comes every five minutes. It takes five minutes to get there. Same thing home. So when that works out well, it works really well. It's just a great option and building lifelong transit riders, right? 

Jane Tunks Demel: yes, 

He 

Ron Davis: Yes, it's wonderful.

Christie Robertson: He he thinks of it as an easy, safe option. 

Ron Davis: yes, my son does ride Metro home as well. And, but he rides on a bus that comes once an hour. It just happened probably because of planning with Metro to come about 10 minutes after he gets out of school. So it's easy for him to make it and he has one other alternate, but it involves quite a bit of walking and maybe, maybe not making it.

And so, um, that happens to be well keyed to Bell schedule. But our needs don't always come at exactly the same time every day and that's why frequency is important so that people can reliably use this at any time of their day, right? So I'm so glad that your son is doing that.

And, we do have public safety challenges on our buses that particularly route isn't too challenging, but one of the things that we need to do is make sure that all our public spaces are safe and buses are one of those places.

And it's interesting because in most with most of the unions I met with and. I've been endorsed by almost every union that's weighed in and that labor council but with most of the unions I met with, their concerns were what you think of a specific like workplace like pay and and bargaining power and things like that.

But the Metro bus drivers were like actually ours is workplace safety Metro bus operators, which also included actually there. Their maintenance staff as well, but they basically said we just want to talk about safety on the buses because you know there's such an issue and once I went through the sort of details of my plan and how we pay for it they were like great, this is a, this is an easy fit for us so I think that is for those of us who love transit and love to talk about progressive things.

We don't love to stoke people's fear and I think that's great. We shouldn't. We shouldn't stoke people's fear. Using fear as a political football is not right, but I think we do need to acknowledge we do have a public safety problem, and it shows up on our buses, and that does keep a lot of people off our buses, so we do need to get that right. 

Christie Robertson: Mhm. And what are your thoughts about safety within schools in terms of gun safety and such?

Ron Davis: Well, I think. Yeah so, um, you know, the Student Union has been pretty clear that they don't want armed officers on site um, and that they don't like it when people use violent incidents to try to force that on them um, and my instinct is that they're probably right about that, um. And so I think the things that we do to reduce violence citywide are probably the things that are most likely to reduce violence in schools, plus a couple other things.

So there's this sort of classic citywide stuff, which is, so I'm endorsed by I'll say Dom Davis at Community Passageways, which is one of the best gun violence prevention programs in the state. And they are here in the city, they work more on the south end, and it's specifically focused a lot on youth and diversion and interrupting cycles of violence, which sometimes erupt in schools.

A lot. related to mentorship, relationship building, de escalation, and then opportunity provision also have awards for Moms Demand Action, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. So if you do the, if you take the public health approach to gun violence, you're addressing root causes, you also have a responsive department, which for us is going to mean a mix of staffing up, of being realistic about how much How many police officers available because hundreds of thousands left the profession in the last few years.

So as PD says, we can grow by 15 to 30 officers in the next year. And and then sort of offloading some of their portfolio because they are so overwhelmed to things like behavioral health or camera enforcement on for roads.

You can actually start to have things like fast police response times it's ensuring accountability through independent oversight. These are the kinds of things that will Along with investing in root causes and addressing our drug crisis, which is just a whole other area of public safety, will get us a lot more sort of general safety and that stuff spills over into school. School specific, I think a few things, the mental health uh, ratio, uh, what got really in the news after the shooting at Ingram. And I think that was right. I think that was very right. I also think some of the things I mentioned earlier so that, yeah. Families are getting better access to services is important. And actually there's just another piece of this, which is, you often hear this term, our schools are failing our kids.

And that's only true if only the school is responsible for raising our children. But the truth is our communities are failing our kids and children that are in school that are in duress because of extreme poverty or other forms of trauma or whatever else is going on um, are not going to learn. The science is very clear on that.

And it's our job as a city to be actually addressing those issues, and I think we are really failing a substantial part of our population in SPS. We have a large number of homeless students, or students living, that are classified as homeless, living in cars, etc. We have students in poverty and some in extreme poverty.

These are unacceptable circumstances, and they're likely, we know that poverty, concentrations of poverty, trauma, these are the things that foment violence in the future. And so if we're not doing that, along with the sort of Standard fare that makes the city safe. We are just giving we're creating opportunities for violence in the schools.

Christie Robertson: The cycle of exclusionary discipline and other kinds of punitive discipline that often when they're done to kids at a young age cause trauma and lead to a whole cycle that. Yep, 

Ron Davis: I think that real problem here in the end comes down to taxes. So I actually want to say a little bit about that. We talked about a lot is there's a 220 million budget deficit for the city, the general fund next year. And um, Some of this is due to slow down in the real estate excise tax because we're not selling as many houses because interest rates are higher.

Some of it's just due to running a city government is expensive. But there's a set of folks who, whose answer is cut, cut, cut. And they talk about inflation and maybe budgets have gone up faster than inflation. But, the way I look at is economists say the way to tell if government spending is out of control is to look at spending as a percentage of GDP and state and local taxes as a percentage of GDP in Seattle are down over 10 years.

And we have a homelessness crisis, a climate crisis, a fentanyl crisis, like... What in the world are we talking about cutting 200 million from our general fund for? And we can talk all day about providing these amazing services. I can talk about funding policing and funding behavioral health. 

But rubber meets the road. All of this has to happen through money. And yes, we can, we can squeeze a buck better sometimes. We can hold. bad programs accountable, but reallocating money from bad programs to good programs doesn't fix a deficit that just reallocates from one program to another.

In the end, none of this works if we don't pay for it. If we don't come together as a community and say, hey, these things are a priority. And by the way, our richest are barely taxed. Our poor are quite heavily taxed. We could do this in a little more bit of a balanced way and easily address these gaps. Cuz we're not going to have public safety. We're not going to have behavioral health. We're not going to have successful families and their children in schools if we don't pay for it. That's magical thinking. 

But part of this is also due to the fact that yeah. There's just so much money in our races, right? 

And in the end, if we don't come together as a community and and shut out the noise they're creating trying to , I mean in every one of the races around the city, you know, Uh, people who want to fund these programs are being attacked as, secretly wanting to defund the police, or not, not caring about drugs, I mean all kinds of crazy stuff, conspiratorial stuff and if we can't push that messaging back and come together as a community and say no, no, no, no, no, we're going to take care of our kids, we're going to take care of our families, we're going to make sure people aren't homeless, we're going to actually treat people for their drug addictions know, we talk about that all the time, should we force people into treatment, there is no treatment capacity, there's no jail capacity we got to pay for stuff, and so I think I think in the end that's, it's not the core narrative of this the races, we're in, but in the end that's what it comes down to, is what are we willing to pay for.

Christie Robertson: Yeah, I feel like the tide is turning a bit in terms of appetite for progressive taxes than where it's been in the past. So hopefully that'll keep going in that direction. 

Ron Davis: I'm really hopeful. I'm really hopeful there is it I meet so many people who are scared that it will cause our business community to flee, and I often have to remind people like if we go from the 50th most lopsidedly favorable for businesses taxes state in the country and we go to the 48, they're probably not all going to flee and something a little more rigorous is. There are, I think, 300 peer reviewed empirical studies of the effect of local variances in tax policy, like, when you compare okay, we have a change in Seattle, so let's look at how that affects employment in Seattle versus Bellevue, tax, experiments like this all over the country, and these are out of the top academic departments in the country, University of Chicago, MIT, Harvard, and the Federal Reserve, and they show very clearly that these kinds of tax variances we're talking about have no effect on GDP, GDP growth, employment uh, job migration, people migration or startup creation.

The only effect, the only discernible economic effect from them is an effect on inequality. So, it just seems like. Yeah, we're at Near peak inequality for 100 years. Um, we're not going to Kill the golden goose by saying, hey, our taxes aren't even going to be flat. They're just going to be a little bit closer to progressive to flat. And we could actually house people and we could actually make the investments we need to be a green city. And we could actually take care of families uh, and our schools. 

Can I say a couple Other things where I think we could work between the city and the. So, Some things I've been just in talking to various people at the district and on the board. One is, we were talking about direct aid to families earlier, just getting that zero to five child care and preschool spectrum taken care of. We know that really starting with prenatal care, that is where some of the most return on investment per dollar is in terms of social services. There's great data about that and let's just face it like this is we're in a city with a child care crisis. And that's those of us who are like. Wealthy tech people are having a crisis with it. And if you're not a wealthy tech person, it's a much more serious crisis. Addressing that both for workforce reasons for child development reasons all all of the pieces. Another thing is, I mentioned earlier the safe routes to schools and accessibility generally but the schools as I understand it are responsible for creating accessible facilities from the doors in, or maybe the curb in, but everything up to that, it doesn't matter if the inside of your school is accessible. I also have spoken to disability advocates who are like, yes, technically there is a way if you're disabled to get into Roosevelt High School, but you have to go all the way around to the back and basically practically go in a loading dock. So also making sure that there's some dignity in the way that we do this is also really important. 

And then another Thing is. Sort of related to this the schools have a different building code than the rest of the city. We did a lot to update that building code and the city had didn't do so much with the schools.

And I know the schools can apply for variances, but I believe, as I understand it, these provide the opportunities for, communities that maybe don't want to see the school grow or whatever To file lawsuits and it gums up the process. All of this is just us creating an extra administrative process that costs us money And doesn't produce any better results 

Christie Robertson: Costs both parties money. 

Ron Davis: Yeah, which is why sometimes people are open to the like, maybe our taxes are too high.

We need to not be stupid. And so , we do need to fix that. That's ridiculous. So some of these onerous rules, even parking requirements that are still in place inside urban villages that we've removed in, the rest, like, it just, need to modernize that code. 

Christie Robertson: Yeah, I only just learned that there's like a handful of variances that, that. School buildings need to ask for every single time they do a building and it slows down the process and makes it more expensive. 

I do want to go back to, this was one of the questions I had slated. I don't know if you participated in the well resourced schools conversations that the district held. 

Ron Davis: I don't know this term, No. 

Christie Robertson: Okay. So this is the term that they're using to frame the closures and consolidations, essentially um,

Ron Davis: like very good marketing. 

Christie Robertson: Um, it is, It's good marketing. And I mean, the way they framed it was... They had regional meetings. And it was the first time they'd done comprehensive community engagement in quite a while. They met in all the different corners of the city and had advertised them really well and had translators and everything. Interpreters, my interpreters always correct me on using the right term. 

Um,

Ron Davis: I probably said that wrong too earlier.

Christie Robertson: And they took everybody's input on Post its and have been working on consolidating a report out of it. And this is what they say is going to be their guiding framework for their decisions that they're about to The idea being we can't afford to well resource all the schools that we have. But if we consolidate, this is at least the implied promise is that we would be able to resource our schools more. As a matter of fact, they're obviously just trying to, they have major budget difficulties and... 

but one really interesting thing that came out of the conversation, I think, was what are the community's priorities for schools? Just knowing that what did communities considered to be critical aspects to a school they would consider to be well resourced?

And top of the priorities for them was childcare and preschool. So basically letting parents work. 

Ron Davis: Hugely egregiously absent. Yep.

Jane Tunks Demel: And like before and after school care, there's many school sites that don't have any before or after school care, or if they do, it's, booked. And so people, there's no other options. And that is something the city, I think, could help with. 

Ron Davis: Absolutely. Yes. This is something I know personally from whether it's from when my oldest son went into kindergarten and we were in a lottery to get in the after school program and didn't make it, and discovered that the Y had an after school program and I've actually been on the board of the Y, later, and discovered how wonderful that was and they bust from a number of schools, but not all of them.

And , The wraparound Care through the Y is something we've done a lot to support as a family and we love um, but we also know that that has been a core part of our ability to function as a family and that a lot of people don't have access. And even though programs like the Y have scholarship access, there's just um, limited number of spots, teachers, all that. There's tons of constraints. 

As I've talked some folks that were out of city offices that have done some interesting work on this, did some work on this during the pandemic. We know there's a few things we can do to expand child care capacity.

Some of them Involve like small grants for in home care that allow for small capital upgrades like a bathroom on the first floor and these things like double capacity. So there's some small things we can do that provide some expansion, but , in the end, the larger problem here is it always comes back to funding, doesn't it?

We have to provide we have to either decide that we're going to continue to just have this be market driven and people are just out of luck if they don't have 2, 500 a month to pay, or we have to decide there's a certain percentage of people's income. That's the cap of what we're going to charge them.

And for low income folks, make sure that it's affordable and, To deliver that at the scale that's needed also means we're going to have to pay people a living wage or something closer to it. So right now we generally pay pretty close to a poverty wage, especially for a newer teacher. So that , between facilities and the constraint on the number of teachers creates a huge capacity issue.

And then, of course, on the demand side, there's just how to pay. Right? And a lot of families just can't pay. A lot of times the cost of child care exceeds the take home pay of, one of the earners. So a lot of those families end up with one of the earners staying home, but not wanting to.

And what that also ends up doing is reducing lifetime earnings later by a large amount. And so that's not always able to be accounted for, because people don't just have cash to borrow. A... Again, this is where like every dollar of investment goes so much farther than so many of the other things we spend on and somehow it's like the last thing we're getting to and it just makes me crazy.

To me, the before and after care on site at schools. Getting child care at least down to the preschool level on the school site, maybe down to the baby level I don't know if that's the right site for it if a different kind of building is working with um I close to the schools But this is one of the things i'm talking to folks on downtown revitalization about. It's like look if you can get child care downtown I know a bunch of people who saw their left arm off to get child care slots Um, if you if you're worried about getting people downtown, and you want attract them I can tell you what you can repurpose some of your space for and so this is things that I just think people care about so much in the city and people don't know what to do. And part of what's challenging about it is the scale of funding that we would need to do this well is the kind of thing you would normally depend on a federal government for or maybe a really, really active state government, I think that they do this pretty well in like Massachusetts. 

I generally have this feeling of you know, they're not coming for us, so we're going to have to do, we're going to have to, they don't, they don't appear on the horizon. We've had an increasingly better state government, , but still, you know, we can't just let these problems fester.

And so I think the courts have opened up some avenues for us to do the taxing and spending to do it. Obviously there's some upper limit to that, both legally and. economically, but I don't think we're, we're at that now. And so I think direct funding to make sure, I think it's 7 percent of your income.

People don't pay more than 7 percent of their income on child care is what's considered affordable. At least providing that for folks, at 50 percent of area median income and below or something to that effect. And Embedding that in the schools is a fabulous idea and then after school care is one of those classic it's like school goes till three ish jobs don't end at three. At least not jobs that pay enough usually to live, afford to live in an expensive city like this. 

I have a whole affordability agenda to which plays into this in a different way but this is, this is a big big deal and something I will say someone I want to compliment. It's Teresa Mosqueda, her jumpstart tax, one of our only progressive taxes, certainly the only one of really significant scale was designed for basically affordable housing, small businesses and childcare, right? And Green New Deal, primarily. Genius, right? 

And the same set of people that are trying to keep me from getting an office opposed it, opposed it, opposed it. And every year they managed to advocate allocating a bunch of that jumpstart back over to the general fund to fill in holes, right? Drawn away from some of those core purposes and I get it. We've had some emergencies i'm not saying that's crazy to fill in some of those holes, but I think that's a promising avenue for a greater Magnitude of funding for this kind of stuff.

Christie Robertson: All right. Well, I'm gonna let you go. 

Ron Davis: Thank you. I know I'm very I'm very talkative. 

So, yes, thank you 

Christie Robertson: Um, it's fascinating stuff and I'll be wishing you well on your campaign. 

Ron Davis: Thanks. I appreciate it so much. Thank you. 

Christie Robertson: If people want to get in touch with you and learn more about your thoughts about education, how can they do 

Ron Davis: Yes. So my campaign email is ron at Seattle four as in the number four ron. com Seattle the number four ron. com. My website Seattle for Ron similarly. com has a place to donate and find out more about my policies. Because I'm a Seattle City Council member, I don't say a ton ton about educational policy there. You probably got a lot more out of it. this podcast than you would get, but you can certainly write to me. I will be a little unreliable between now and November 7th because 13 days from now is our election, but I'll do my best to get back to you. 

And, yeah, thanks for having me. 

Christie Robertson: Yeah. Thank you so much for taking the time. It's great to talk to you. 

Jane Tunks Demel: And that concludes this episode. Our website is Seattle hall. pass.org. Where you can also subscribe or donate to help cover our costs. 

Email us at hello at Seattle hall. pass.org. We'd love to interview you. If you have ideas for how the city in Seattle and Seattle public schools. I can work together to do better by our kids. I'm Jane tank stable.

Christie Robertson: And I'm Kristy Robertson. Join us next time on seattle hall pass


The City-School District Relationship
Student Mental Health
Planning Coordination
School Safety
Budget Shortfalls and Revenue Solutions
Preschool and Childcare, Well-Resourced Schools
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