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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 20, 2009 at 4:22 PM

Washington’s math aptitude

The real reason Massachusetts’ schools are better

Clearly, Christopher Eide [“State should’t hide from WASL math test,” guest commentary, March 18] is a graduate of a Washington school, not of the Massachusetts system he touts for its public/private competition. Like many propagandists, he tries to use a selective set of statistics, mainly WASL scores, as a lever to boost charter and parochial schools that drain money out of the public system.

But let’s compare apples to apples. What he neglects to mention: Massachusetts is ranked eighth versus Washington’s 38th in per child spending on public education. This is the No. 1 reason why Massachusetts has outpaced Washington in K-12 test scores. I graduated from the No. 4 public school district in the country, and there were two reasons for our ranking: We were one of the richest districts in “Taxachusetts,” a state where almost one-third more tax dollars per student go to schools than in Washington; and more shamefully, my school pushed into vocational school (or expelled) anyone who looked like they might fail before graduation and therefor throw off the statistics!

Our high score had absolutely nothing to do with adjusting the curriculum to standardized tests — it had to do with a large majority of highly educated parents and a well-funded system that supported kids to think critically. In a very snobbish district, parochial schools were only chosen by a few for the sake of status.

When I compare notes with my native Washingtonian friends, it’s blatantly clear how much more empowered my teachers were, and therefore how much more creative and empowering my education was. My parents, griping as they did about taxes, were nonetheless happy for their investment returns. I stopped taking math after my 10th-grade statistics class, but I hope that Massachusetts’ Harvard University teaches Sammamish High’s Mr. Eide a little bit more about statistical analysis before they award him a master’s degree.

— Krista Rose, Seattle

Comments | More in Education reform, Math

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