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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 24, 2008 at 4:45 PM

Balancing budgets

King County’s getting there

Keith Ervin’s story in the Nov. 22 Seattle Times about the King County budget process is a great example of how government should work. My hat goes off to King County Council budget chair Larry Phillips and the budget committee for taking King County Executive Ron Sims’ “slash and burn” budget and creating a compromise that recognizes government’s responsibility to protect the public interest in circumstances where we cannot protect ourselves.

This budget is still far from perfect but at least there is a glimmer of social responsibility with this relatively modest, responsible expenditure that provides the most basic support for those families and individuals who have nowhere else to turn.

— Dan Labriola, Seattle

Move it along, Olympia

Finally suggestions to close the $5 billion state budget gap [“Legislature, governor must find $5 billion in spending cuts without raising taxes,” editorial, Nov. 23]. I believe one of the biggest failings of any government — federal, state and local — is the lack of explaining exactly where and how tax dollars are spent. There never seems to be an annual accounting to the public of how their tax dollars are allocated.

But Sunday’s editorial succinctly outlined reasonable options to solve our budget crisis. Although these ideas will be challenged by various constituencies, I hope the Legislature moves forward with these suggestions.

— Jane Ramsay, Bellevue

School’s not just a day care

Your [Sunday editorial on the state budget] revealed the editorial board’s collective misunderstanding of modern public education with just two words: “nonteaching days.” This was how you justified cutting math and science learning-improvement days to your readers.

Your deliberate parenthetical inclusion of this comment implies that taxpayers get less value for their money when students aren’t in the classroom. If you expect day care only, this would be true.

I’m not a science teacher, and I don’t know how those days have been used, but your justification for the cuts was poor and uninformed. And unfortunately, you are perpetuating a popular misconception that serves as one of the bigger hurdles in American education.

Many other countries, at least the ones that are the object of our envy because of their public schools, give their teachers significantly more time to meet with parents and students (customer service), grade assignments (performance assessment), collaborate with colleagues (strategic planning) and plan, review and revise curriculum (research and development).

None of this can be done when there are 34 students to supervise in the classroom.

Trying to get students engaged in a lesson is important (sales), but your editorial board should stop feeding the myth that this alone will give us a good product.

— Stephen Nolet, Suquamish

Comments | More in Economy, Education, King County Council, Politics, Washington Legislature

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