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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 25, 2009 at 6:00 AM

Education

Basics need funding before reform

It is a difficult time for many of us. As a local educator, I feel fortunate that I both enjoy and, even more importantly, have a job that is secure. Many of you reading this, including local educators, aren’t as fortunate as I am. You have already lost your jobs or there is a real possibility that you will be receiving a layoff notice in the near future. It is for this reason that I am baffled that our Senate has approved an educational-reform bill at a time when there is no funding to support it [“Legislature redefines a basic education,” NW Tuesday, April 21].

As a member of the Washington Education Association and the Edmonds Education Association, I am fully invested in how our schools are funded. If this Legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire approve the education-reform bill, my district alone will have a $13 million funding deficit.

It is very difficult for me to understand why the Legislature is entertaining new reform when there is no money in our state budget to fund the basics of education. I support the suspension of educator raises and lower class sizes, especially if it means that one or more of my colleagues will remain employed.

I cannot support a legislative measure that further burdens a public-education system that is already bailing water. I certainly cannot vote for any politician who is in support of further burdening our state’s public schools.

— Betsy McGregor, dean of students, Edmonds School District #15

Teachers deserve Legislature that will support work

While expounding in favor of education reform, The Times begrudges wages paid to those educating [“Teacher-pay promise may be difficult to keep,” Opinion, editorial, April 23].

Even though the Legislature cannot bind future legislators, The Times urged support of an education-reform bill that, laughably, would not be implemented until 2018 [“Laying the groundwork for education reform,” Opinion, editorial, April 16].

Incongruously, The Times then criticizes legislators for “putting off until tomorrow what it cannot do today” by, in suspending Initiative 732’s requirement for annual wage cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) for K-12 education personnel, promising to provide the suspended wage increases by 2014-15.

I did not vote for either the education-reform bill’s hollow promises or to thwart the will of the 63 percent of Washington voters who adopted I-732. However, I hardly think it unreasonable to give those teaching our children, including my kindergartner, the hope of a brighter future and a more courageous future Legislature willing to support their work.

The last time education reform was adopted, in the 1990s, teachers only received two COLAs over six years. They will now go at least two years without COLAs. The gainsharing-pension promise made to them was broken in 2007. Surely morale will not improve if the beatings continue.

— Rep. Brendan W. Williams, 22nd Legislative District, Olympia

School cuts make U.S. less competitive

I am saddened to read that the state Legislature and governor have revealed their true priorities within just the last few days.

Earlier this week they passed a law redefining the state’s responsibilities to fund education, expanding that definition to be more in line with today’s expectations. Wednesday, their accomplishments included cutting educational spending by $800 million while the House approved $4.3 billion to replace the antiquated viaduct [“Schools take hit in state budget,” NW Friday, April 24]. Yes, some of those billions will be federal dollars that “don’t count,” but billions will still come from state coffers and taxpayers.

Luckily, history teaches us that the viaduct work will be delayed year after year. Today we import engineering talent because not enough is homegrown here in the U.S.

Therefore, by the time the expertise is needed, we Americans should be very practiced in contracting our engineering work to India or China. In those countries, extreme competition for obtaining the “good life,” as is lived in the USA, provides the needed focus on education, both by the state and by the students.

— William Manganaro, Issaquah

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