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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 22, 2009 at 5:09 PM

Washington education system

Stop shortchanging our students

This year, the legislature has a decision to make when it comes to education: Is Washington going to make progress for children or maintain the status quo?

If we’re ready to make some real progress for kids, the answer lies in the recommendations of the Basic Education Taskforce, which is crucial to updating our antiquated-education system in Washington state.

As a parent of two kids, I’ve seen how our underfunded system is shortchanging our children’s education. Last year, when school enrollment was larger than teacher capacity, our third-graders were facing a 35 percent increase in class size for the following year.

One of the suggested solutions? Have the PTA essentially “buy” an additional teacher — for $75,000.

This suggestion outraged me. Bellevue is considered by many to be a wealthy school district. There are certainly wealthy PTAs in Bellevue. However, not all schools are as lucky as the school that my children attend, and one’s zip code should not be the determining factor in their child’s education.

Schools around the state are being forced to privately fund public education, yet our constitution states it is the paramount duty of the state to fund basic education.

We all know that Washington is facing the worst budget crisis in our history. However, over the last 30 years, education reform in this state has been piecemeal at best.

Our kids are the future of our state. They deserve a comprehensive, 21st-century education system that will truly prepare them for college and careers.

This session the Legislature has the opportunity to pass real education reform such as smaller class sizes, updated graduation requirements in line with college standards, teacher-mentor programs, and prekindergarten for high-risk students.

While our education system is in dire need of funding, we cannot continue to throw money at the same broken system and expect better results. Our Legislature has the opportunity now to fix this broken system. I urge them to take leadership and embrace this opportunity.

— Krista Capodanno, Bellevue

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