Universal Preschool NOW! Campaign Timeline
After considerable research and outreach, Portland DSA’s Tax the Rich working group launches the Universal Preschool NOW (UP NOW) campaign with a large group of coalition partners, including educators, unions, child care workers, civic organizations, political parties, parents, health practitioners, economists and environmental groups.
Universal, high-quality, year-round, free preschool for all 3- & 4-year-olds in Multnomah County, with a wide variety of choices for families
At least 145% of minimum wage for preschool educators and staff
Funding by a progressive, marginal income tax on the top 5% of earners
22,686 – signatures needed to qualify for November 2020 ballot
Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson and Social Venture Partners plan for the Preschool for All Taskforce, leading Universal Preschool NOW leaders to seek a meeting. The Preschool for All Taskforce is launched in September 2018, culminating in a report in July 2019 calling for a school year program for all three and four year olds in families with incomes below the Self Sufficiency Standard, a wage floor of $15 and no identified funding mechanism.
January 2019 – June 2020
Universal Preschool NOW campaign includes 50+ core members, 2 coordinators, and 3 ballot measure chief petitioners representing the Portland Association of Teachers, PDX Jobs with Justice and the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for Women
Volunteer attorneys prepare ballot measure draft, based on policy and tax research
Paid elections attorney drafts final measure
Volunteers spread the word and build mailing list
Campaign assembles coalition – parents, educators, unions, nonprofits
Volunteers promote campaign by phone, text, and social media
Campaign team meets regularly and communicates on Slack
It becomes clear that Preschool for All also intends to put a measure on the November 2020 ballot, by vote of the County Commissioners rather than gathering signatures
Campaign leaders meet regularly with Preschool for All, with the shared hope of merging the two campaigns.
UP NOW campaign submits measure to Multnomah County Elections Division
All UP NOW meetings are virtual
June 4, 2020
Multnomah County Elections Office approves Universal Preschool NOW measure
June 4 – July 6, 2020
600 volunteers collect registered voter signatures
Campaign mails over 1000 signature gathering packets
Volunteers support signature gathering with phone- and text-banking and social media
Campaign leaders continue to meet with Preschool for All
July 6, 2020
32,000+ — signatures submitted to Multnomah County Elections Office
July 22, 2020
Multnomah County Elections Office certifies Universal Preschool NOW measure for the November 3, 2020 ballot
July 30, 2020
Preschool for All reaches out for negotiations to merge the two campaigns, shifting to support a universal program, free for all children with year-round and weekend day options; a significantly higher wage floor for workers and union neutrality; as well as funding from a tax on high income households
July 23 – November 3, 2020
Field operation launches Get Out The Vote — phone- and text-banking, social media
Campaign does media outreach — editorial board interviews, letters to the editor, opinion columns
Cohorts submit statements to Multnomah County voter pamphlet — educators, public health officials, physicians, social workers, economists, unions, etc.
Campaign holds events – 5k for Pre-K, small business weekend
Merged campaign distributes lawn signs
Universal Preschool NOW and Preschool for All present a single proposal to Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. Titled Preschool for All, it preserves all core principles of original Universal Preschool NOW measure.
November 3, 2020
Preschool for All measure passes by 2:1 margin.
Subsequently, P4A’s passage received extensive local, regional and national press coverage, noting it may be a new national model, and inquiries from many communities across the US expressing interest in replicating the campaign in their locales.
November 4, 2020 – Full Universality in 2030
UP NOW engages with Preschool for All implementation oversight to ensure that core principles, timelines, funding methods are realized
Campaign advocates for representation of preschool workers on the Preschool for All Advisory Committee, appointed by Multnomah County Chair and Board of Commissioners
UP NOW Implementation Committee advocates for explicit mention of workers as well as providers in Labor Harmony Agreement, and that this agreement be adopted in time to be discussed with potential preschool providers
UP NOW recruits for Preschool for All staff positions among volunteers and coalition organizations
The Final Analysis
75 campaign core members meetings — Phases 1-3
30,000 hours of volunteer time — Phases 1-3
$3 billion estimated community benefit from Preschool for All — $2 billion attributable to UP NOW campaign
Estimated $65,000 of community benefit per hour of UP NOW volunteer time
Enrollment in Preschool for All Program starts in Fall 2022 with 500 openings, increasing annually through 2030, until at least 12,000 new preschool spots are available in Multnomah County’s Preschool for All program, in addition to Head Start, Oregon Pre-K and Preschool Promise openings.