December 5, 2013 at 7:00 AM
We need to replicate Finland’s educational system
I’m really sick and tired of people like guest columnist Kimberly Lasher Mitchell who claim to be a reformer of public education [“I’m a proud education reformer,” Opinion, Dec. 2].
The truth is that without so-called reforms her position as co-founder of Inquiry Partners would be meaningless and without profit.
And that is the problem with the current educational reforms — they are motivated by profit. Diane Ravitch, in her new book called “Reign of Error,” exposes this profit motive and the absurdity of the new educational reforms. It should be required reading for everyone associated with education.
November 5, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Reducing class size will lead to large improvements
I’m really getting frustrated and angry with all the so-called educational “reformers,” like Kevin Welner [“Challenging students to succeed,” Opinion, Oct. 28].
As a retired public school teacher who taught for 34 years, I can tell you that Kevin’s opinion on how to improve student learning is flat out wrong. It’s interesting that reformers nowadays are usually people who have never taught in a public school.
The bottom line is that any improvement in student learning needs to be accompanied by a drastic reduction in class size. This variable seems to be left out of most reformers’ improvement plans. The other improvement is rather simple. Let the classroom teacher make professional decisions about how to teach and manage the class. He or she knows the students best.
Teachers today are fed up with someone outside of their school telling them what to do, knowing that it won’t work for their students.
Roger Wong, Renton
June 12, 2013 at 6:03 AM
Invest in clean energy first
How can we expect students to get excited about learning sciences when half our politicians deny the truth of the most significant scientific finding of all time? [“Let’s dazzle them with science,” Opinion, June 11.]
We need to move investments into production of clean-energy technology like solar, wind, geothermal and efficiency, because investing in more oil, coal and natural gas is dangerously overheating our world.
In a classroom discussion on global warming, one girl asked me, “If 98 percent of scientists who study climate all say the same thing, why aren’t people do something about it?”
Louise Stonington, Seattle
June 9, 2013 at 7:39 AM
Reinstate Jon Greenberg
I am not a teacher, but I’ve had a few good ones — very few. And Jon Greenberg sounds like the best [“Teacher’s transfer protested at board meeting,” NWThursday, June 6].To censure him or punish him for challenging students to be honest and think critically is uncalled for. What a travesty and what a way to ensure mediocrity.
I hope district Superintendent José Banda does the right thing by reinstating Greenberg and giving him a raise.
The Seattle Times already did the right thing by shining the light of day on this sordid affair.
Jim Buckley, Port Townsend
June 9, 2013 at 6:31 AM
Don’t just talk the talk
As an elementary-school teacher currently in my 10th year, I agree with The Seattle Times editorial board that much more must be done to decrease the number of high-school dropouts in our state [“Editorial: Lower the dropout rate,” Opinion, May 27].
The editorial highlighted Senate Bill 5237 as a possible steppingstone to achieving that goal. The bill mandates that schools provide greater support for those who are not reading proficiently by third grade. Does the Legislature intend to fully fund those interventions or simply “mandate” that the interventions be provided?
Each year, schools are asked to do more and more with less money, less staff, and fewer resources. If our state senators and representatives truly want to increase student success, they need to put the money where their mouths are and fully fund education.
In lieu of mandates, legislators should put more money toward lowering class size and allowing teachers to meet the increasing, diverse needs of our children. Students who taste success and make connections with their teachers are much more likely to graduate. Those connections are hard to make with 30 second-graders or 45 freshmen in one class.
Our schools don’t need more mandates; they need more dedicated teachers providing instruction, mentoring and timely intervention.
Nycole Swearingen, Lynnwood
June 7, 2013 at 7:57 AM
Leave teachers who teach
It is surprising that a high-school teacher at an alternative high school in Seattle can be transferred because one student’s family is uncomfortable with his “Courageous Conversations” class on racial and social-justice issues [“Teacher’s transfer protested at board meeting,” NWThursday, June 6]. They only filed two complaints against this teacher, and the school district plans to transfer him to a middle school.This is funny because several years ago, about 10 families (mine included) at an elementary school filed a complaint with the district about an elementary-school teacher who didn’t teach anything. He is still at the school. The district did nothing.
It seems that schools are afraid of teachers who teach and accepting of teachers who don’t teach.
Lucia Regan, Seattle
Discussion of race is necessary
Columnist Jerry Large makes the key point that we need discussions on race or we will never solve our social problems [“Frank talk best lesson of all,” NWThursday, June 6].
I am proud that Eva Cosgrove lists Greenberg’s class as her favorite. Eva completed Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Peace Activist Trainee Program, in which we try to help fill in the huge need for racial understanding that the lack of courses like Greenberg’s leaves in Seattle schools.
Let’s not only support Greenberg but call for sensitively taught courses such as his throughout the district.
Ruth Yarrow, Seattle
Schools need more classes like Greenberg’s
Having read both Jerry Large’s opinion and the accompanying article, I am convinced the district has erred badly. This should not be a question about the apparent decadelong popularity of the course with students, nor one of hewing to a course of absolute political correctness so that no one is uncomfortable.
The correct question to ask is: “Is this course and teaching method important to the education of our children?”
Given the appalling torrent of racial venom our kids are exposed to on the Internet and other media channels, and the more subtle racism found in “polite” society, I’d say we need more courses like this one and more teachers like Mr. Greenberg.
Paul Gutowski, Seattle
June 7, 2013 at 7:01 AM
A lesson on speaking out
My daughter is a provisional special-education teacher of autistic children at a local public elementary school [“State instructs Seattle schools to fix problems in its special ed,” page one, June 2].
She was advised that the school district was not going to renew her contract. The school did not give her a reason why. I guess the rules say it doesn’t have to. She was told she could resign and the school would give her a good recommendation.
Believing that she was an excellent teacher, an advocate for her students, well-respected by her peers, and not understanding why she was let go, she asked to see her personnel file. It was very positive, and she had been commended. She asked for a meeting with the superintendent to understand why she was being let go. They had the meeting and the superintendent was to rule within ten days.
Then her principal conducted her annual review and cited issues not previously discussed and very deleterious. They brought into question her professionalism, ability to obey the law and care of her students. Their words are very negative and not based on fact. Since then, the superintendent has agreed with his staff’s determination.
What makes this case unusual is that my daughter asked why. There are seven other provisional special-education teachers in the same school district who are taking the offer to resign with a recommendation. They are being good, being quiet.
Here is the lesson: My daughter and 9-year-old grandson are in the car coming home from school. He knows what is going on. He knows what his fellow students and his teachers think of his mother. He knows what these allegations are. He says, “Mom, I guess you should have just been quiet.”
Now that’s a school district that can teach everybody a little something. Ethics anyone? Does anybody care?
Gerry Pelland, Snohomish
May 31, 2013 at 7:33 AM
Build federal-state partnership
The Times rightly backs increased investments in preschool [“Editorial: Preschool trickles up,” Opinion, May 19]. But Washington doesn’t have to go it alone.
It’s about fairness. Just 48 percent of low-income children enter kindergarten school-ready, compared to three-fourths of higher-income kids. Quality pre-K levels the playing field, especially for poor kids. And it cultivates “soft skills” prized by employers, like focus and critical thinking, giving today’s kids a better chance to compete in tomorrow’s economy.
Congress should build a federal-state partnership, like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (Apple Health for Kids, in Washington). Federal funds would help states like Washington make pre-K affordable for every child. And funding would be limited to providers meeting evidence-informed quality standards.
Apple Health For Kids’ success shows Republicans and Democrats can put kids ahead of politics. Let’s urge Washington’s leaders in Congress to do it again.
A child’s potential, not a parent’s income, should define the limits of academic success.
Bruce Lesley, president, First Focus, Washington, D.C.
May 20, 2013 at 6:37 AM
Do the math
There have been numerous articles on the burden of student debt on college graduates citing loan balances of $80,000, $100,000 or more [“Student debt hurts more than just grads,” seattletimes.com, May 10].
I am a firm believer in availability of a college education for anyone who desires one, and in Washington there are many loan options. What I don’t understand is the notion someone opts for the most expensive of their options without any regard to the debt levels they will accumulate and their ability to repay.
Most of the individuals interviewed in these articles act like the level of debt and entry-level earnings that won’t fund repayment are a total surprise. Maybe the inability to do that basic math should have been a consideration in their decision whether or not to attend college — or at least which one.
Rick Hawley, Bellevue
March 24, 2013 at 6:32 AM
Health should come before education
The editorial applauding recent packages of mental-health legislation is right on track [“Mental-health reform,” Opinion, March 22]. Senate Bill 5732 and House Bill 1522 would ease the horrific mental-health crisis by funding more psychiatric beds.
I must, however, take issue with placing education funding first. What kind of education are we offering to our young people by allowing sick people in our state to be stacked and warehoused in emergency rooms and jails? Often, it is these same young people themselves who suffer the first ravages of mental illness. Because of their sickness they are forced from their high school and college classes.
Let us take care of their health first; only healthy people are able to learn well.
–Jan Thomas, Seattle
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