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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 18, 2008 at 2:59 PM

President-elect Obama

The past is calling

I am pleased that President-elect Barack Obama is about to become our president. He gave an incredible acceptance speech, and John McCain delivered a very gracious concession speech.

History often echoes the past into the present: 1942 was a particularly bleak year for the allies. It looked like Germany, Japan and Italy were going to conquer everybody, and plunge the world into darkness; 66 years ago, in Nov. 1942, Bernard Montgomery chased Erwin Rommel out of Africa for Britain’s first victory of the war.

Winston Churchill then addressed the British people on the radio:

He said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Obama is brand new to leadership, but his speech had echoes of the same fire and the same challenge to the spirit of his people: Yes, we can.

— Gary Paine, Seattle

Make this your first order

Leonard Pitts Jr.’s excellent column stated that President-elect Barack Obama’s children will not attend public schools in Washington, D.C., because of the terrible quality of those schools [“Why the Obamas are unlikely to put daughters in public school,” syndicated column, Nov. 16]. He criticized the teachers-union fight against Michelle Rhee, the schools’ chief who is trying to improve quality by rewarding good teachers and firing bad ones.

But he did not follow his argument to its logical conclusion: If Obama recognizes that the schools in D.C. are not fit for his own children, he should fight by the side of educators like Rhee even if it means giving up the union’s massive campaign contributions.

If he were truly committed to improving quality for all children — and not just to saving his own as former President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton did before him — he would stand up to the unions.

And the best way to do this is to fight for a law to end closed-shop unions in government, thereby forcing them to earn credibility and membership, and enact policies that support good employees and reject bad ones. This would truly be an “alternative universe” to what exists today in public education.

— Deborah Johnson, DuPont

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