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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 31, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Education: Are we failing our children?

Hunter, Jarrett failing education

House Rep. Ross Hunter and Sen. Fred Jarrett failed Washington public-school students and employees this past legislative session. They wasted most of their time promoting an education-reform bill that has little chance of ever helping students.

Additionally, they didn’t increase the levy-cap limit despite the will of local voters. As a result, hundreds of Washington state teachers lost their jobs unnecessarily, which will lead to higher class sizes for all students this fall.

Hunter and Jarrett have always told voters public education was one of their top priorities. Given their F grade from last session regarding public schools, the voters need to return Hunter and Jarrett to Olympia in hopes they will fulfill their promises to help public schools.

This is just one reason why Eastside teachers and Washington Education Association members are endorsing Dow Constantine and Larry Phillips for King County executive.

— Stephen Miller, Bellevue

In recession, remember to look out for special education

It is time that some of the inequities pressed onto special-education families are being rectified [“Fair play on special-ed,” Opinion, editorial, July 5]. Maybe this ruling will force districts to seriously contend with the issue of truly educating these students to their full potential. This is one victory for parents, and we hope, the first of many more.

As parents of a student with Aspergers, a form of autism, who was forced to graduate earlier than he deserved, we know personally how poor services are after school ends. Let us take the tenets of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act seriously, which defines education as academic and functional achievement to allow that student movement to post-school life. For us, neither of these was achieved. So we struggle, like many others, to define a meaningful life for our son.

Yet, concurrent with the windfall of stimulus money dedicated to special education, some districts will be using part of those funds to patch shortfalls within their budgets. Since special education has never been fully funded, this seems particularly cruel. The unemployment rate for autistic young adults is 92 percent. We need a paradigm shift in which the educational system produces winners, not losers.

The opportunity to provide lifelong learning options for this population will benefit all of us as a community.

— Valerie Brenner, Tacoma

Comments | More in Education, Education reform

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