April 1, 2013 at 4:00 PM
Tactics aren’t the main problem
When I saw that Rob McKenna used terms like “reset button” and “sober reflection” to introduce his recent Times guest column on the state GOP, I thought perhaps he and his fellow Republicans may be having a true awakening regarding the unfortunate path the GOP has taken in recent years, especially on the national scene. [“A reset button for Washington states’ GOP,” Opinion, March 31.]
However, it turns out that all he was referring to was the need to focus on things like “strategies and tactics” — not a fundamental re-examination of the basic principles and philosophies that are currently driving the GOP.
He expresses appreciation for the leadership of people like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Here’s a reminder for McKenna: Gov. Jindal’s most-publicized quote is his admonition for Republicans to stop being the “party of stupid.”
As with Democrats and Independents, there have been Republicans who have served this state and this country well and certain principles they espouse are laudable. Unfortunately, however, the party has clearly been overtaken by the extreme right-wing component that absolutely refuses to compromise on anything, even when it makes sense to do so.
Will that ever change? Only time will tell.
– Jim Sullivan, Renton
Target audience smarter than that
I wonder if other readers were struck by the irony of the juxtaposition of Sunday’s Paul Krugman column pointing out the folly of the “deficit scolds” [“Plan B for the deficit scolds,” Opinion, March 31] with the piece by Rob McKenna on the facing page, once again blaming the deficit for our economic woes?
McKenna goes on to declare that the hope for Republicans lay in “offering bold solutions.” So, with probably more curiosity than expectation, I went on reading but found not only no new “bold solutions” but the tired old and discredited “blame the endless trillion-dollar federal deficits” for our economic woes (which even John Boehner has dismissed).
Then to cap off this nonsensical whine, McKenna declares that Republicans should “champion forward-looking polices,” offer “real alternatives” and concludes by saying, “We must improve our party’s technological efforts” and develop more “robust and personal get-out-the vote programs.”
Sorry Rob, better computer programs (robo calls) and focused ads won’t cut it. Your target market, minority communities and younger voters, are smarter than that and demand and expect real policy statements, not mere outreach proclaiming the same discredited Republican concepts born in the last century.
– Howard Phelps, Seattle
Turning a deaf ear
Rob McKenna’s guest column shows exactly why his party is scrambling for answers.
Most of McKenna’s piece focuses on getting out into ethnic and minority communities more than just around election time. He talks of reaching young voters because GOP economic policies will help them succeed.
But McKenna and his party continue to turn a deaf ear to the issues that make them anathema to women, minorities and the young. Until the GOP repudiates its radical right wing and its support for tax-coddling the rich, demeaning a woman’s right to choose abortion and gutting social services, it won’t matter how much time they spend glad-handing new (for them) communities.
– Lee Somerstein, Renton
Open your eyes
Rob McKenna’s column in Sunday’s paper has shown me once again that he still doesn’t get it, and it validates my vote in November.
Simply bemoaning a poor image among women and racial minorities and the LGBT community, and vowing better outreach and more inclusive language, isn’t going to do the trick, and frankly, never will.
Even many white, straight men such as myself think McKenna and the state and national Republican Party are simply wrong on the issues. You know, the issues, the things that are really important to us, such as affordable health care and gay rights and immigration and gun control and climate change and fair taxation and labor rights and a woman’s right to choose, and — gee, just about everything else.
Republicans need to think before they spend that $10 million to improve their image in minority communities, and first do something that’s absolutely free: open their eyes, open their ears and open their hearts.
– Lawrence Sylwester, Seattle
March 22, 2013 at 7:12 AM
Online learning suits some
A recent Seattle Times article highlights the need to improve success in online courses; however, there’s more to the story [“Online classes could widen achievement gap, study shows,” NWSunday, March 17].
Online courses at two-year colleges make higher education possible for thousands of working adults — many of whom are parents — to balance busy lives without attending class in person. On average, 85 percent of our students who begin an online course complete successfully.
While online students have slightly lower completion rates, the Columbia University study cited uses 2004-2009 data. It does not mention important efforts to help online students succeed: 24/7 access to e-tutoring, free professional development and mandatory faculty training. In 2014, a new learning-management system, “Canvas,” will offer a suite of e-learning tools accessible on any mobile device or social media site and analytics to pinpoint the best content and experiences for students.
Online learning requires self-direction and time management. Just as students have different learning styles, some learn better in a classroom, others online.
While classroom learning dates back hundreds of years, there are still vital lessons to be learned about online education. Colleges continually strive to give every student a chance to succeed, regardless of class format.
–Marty Brown, executive director, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Olympia
March 21, 2013 at 4:07 PM
Science education should start earlier
Here we go again. Time and again, Bill Gates and his ilk look to high schools and colleges to bring up student achievement in math and science [“Science, math education backers find friends in U.S. Capitol,” NWWednesday, March 20]. Yet, since the state doesn’t test students in science until eighth grade, most students don’t get any science education until they hit middle school.
Other countries begin science education early, giving their students a head start over ours. I realize that many elementary school teachers are not comfortable with science, but we have music and physical-education specialists in the schools.
It is high time we put our money where our mouths are and put science-education specialists in the elementary schools.
–Linda Hill, Bothell
March 15, 2013 at 3:30 PM
U.S. makes immigration too easy
A man is trying to decide which of two countries he’ll immigrate to illegally. Both countries welcome legal immigrants, but he’s impatient and doesn’t want to stand in line with law-abiding immigrants.
Country A eventually rewards him with citizenship through amnesty. Until then, he gets health benefits, free education for his children and a driver’s license. Local governments prohibit police from checking whether he’s in the country illegally. Employers, who ignore immigration laws and are never penalized for doing so, immediately hire him. Children who accompany him across the border get in-state tuition, financial aid and eventual citizenship through amnesty. His children born after his illegal crossing receive immediate citizenship.
Country B does not reward him for breaking its immigration laws. Thus, no one in his family receives citizenship, health and education benefits (certainly not in-state tuition) or driver’s licenses. Law-enforcement agencies actually enforce immigration laws. Employers are required to verify that their employees are in the country legally, and employers are severely fined if they violate those requirements.
Which country do you think this gentleman, and millions like him, will enter illegally? And which country do you think has a huge illegal immigration problem, and which country doesn’t?
–Matthew Barry, Issaquah
March 11, 2013 at 4:30 PM
Prison may offer first access to education
Thank you for the editorial in support of lifting the ban on funding higher education for prison inmates [“Lift state ban on funding higher ed for inmates,” Opinion, March 5].
The image many people have of the incarcerated is that of the hard-core criminal. Although this belief is common, it does not reflect reality. While the United States represents only 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. incarcerates a quarter of the world’s prisoners. These numbers combined with the highest prison recidivism rates in the developed world tell me that it’s high time our prisons start focusing on actual rehabilitation. Providing access to education is one of the only proven ways to do this.
Most people in the U.S. prison system come from low-income, disenfranchised communities. With only 46 percent of prisoners having a high-school diploma, the opportunity to access higher education in prison might be the first adequate access to education these individuals have had.
Education is one of the only effective tools known to prevent prison recidivism. Providing educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals is not a waste of taxpayer money. If anything, with a $20,000 return for every $5,000 invested, increased access to education reduces the financial and societal burden that our current criminal-justice system perpetuates.
–Nathan Ogden, Seattle
Accountability is necessary
I support this move with reservations.
There needs to be accountability. Legislators and the Department of Corrections need to comprehend math. Budget cuts every year means the program requires dedicated staff working ridiculous hours with limited resources under dangerous conditions.
I worked in the prison education program for several years. Our statistics proved greatly reduced recidivism. I took a printing program from debt to paying for itself. Taxpayers saved on state printing costs. Our community advisory committee worked with inmates making more than $100,000 in printing-equipment donations. Basic-skills instructors made progress with the developmentally disabled, who had a chance at learning and being productive.
What we experienced was personal agendas from legislators, program directors, etc., that resulted not only in losing the two-year associate degree [program], but the printing program and much of the developmentally disabled program. Jobs were lost including mine.
Legislators admitted their mistake of inadequately working the bill ending the two-year degree when informed the new education director (not the first choice of a hiring committee) had already made devastating cuts. Not one of the legislators had the backbone to stop the end of successful programs.
Taxpayers deserve better if the degree program is restored.
–Sandra Watkins, Mountlake Terrace
June 24, 2009 at 2:48 PM
Education for foreign wealthy, unemployment for local grads
Your article ["State grants tuition break for foreign professionals," page one, June 22] regarding the new state bill to grant tuition breaks for foreign professionals and families really disturbs me.
Most of the recipients are well-paid foreigners, filling jobs our young professionals are unable to find when they graduate with staggering debts from the same universities doling out the breaks to the least needy.
Recently, The Times reported that special work-study tuition plans for nursing students were being canceled ["UW program gets pricier; one student's cost up tenfold," page one, June 6] even while some students were in mid-program. They now face drastic tuition increases. The University of Washington’s reason was that funds were short even if it meant dumping quality nurses on the street.
Yet, our Legislature and governor have the money for people who don’t need it, who have good jobs, drive good cars and whose homes aren’t being foreclosed.
Take a look around any Northwest town the next time you get a chance and see the shops and stores shut down. Go to the malls and look at the empty big-box stores and the vacant storefronts. Look at the rising foreclosures all around our neighborhoods and the exploding unemployment ranks.
Then explain to your children why America is being given away from under them.
– John Decker, Sammamish
June 19, 2009 at 3:46 PM
Low graduation rates don’t mean system is failing
Liz Tidyman was appalled in her letter to the editor ["Higher education may no longer be worth it," Northwest Voices, June 6] that only 59 percent of those who enter college in this state eventually graduate. But as a matter of fact, that is not only higher than most states, it’s high even by historical standards.’
Not everyone who enters college can, or should, graduate. Many quickly find that it’s not for them and go on to other perfectly valid options. Many are only intending to take a few courses for professional or social reasons. And there’s nothing wrong with that, either.
And then there’s the politically incorrect little secret that millions of women leave college as soon as they marry to become wives and mothers as their chief roles in life. That’s another equally valid choice.
But of those who stay for at least four years, almost all graduate, and that’s the only figure that counts.
– Brian Templeton, Des Moines
June 10, 2009 at 3:21 PM
Many former students doing well
The article about Western Washington University drama professor Perry Mills was woefully one-sided ["Professor says he provokes, but others call it abusive." page one, June 9]. The reporter failed to interview students who are supportive of Mills, of which there are many.
Theatre is an extremely difficult business, yet WWU students have had great success in part due to Mills. Below is a short list of former students of Mills who have worked professionally in theater:
Braden Abraham, associate artistic director at Seattle Rep (and frequent director of shows there and elsewhere);
Alycia Delmore, longtime local actress who recently appeared in “Hump Day,” which was an award winner at Sundance;
Barzin Akhavan, professional actor who has been featured in plays across the country including Seattle Rep, San Jose Rep and is currently starring in the play adaptation of “Kite Runner”;
Galen Joe Osier, local actor who recently starred in “Crime & Punishment” at Intiman Theatre;
Jon Lutyens, local Seattle actor;
Jason Martin, published playwright.
And that’s just off the top of my head. These are not English/psychology/education majors who took a theater class here and there. These are theater majors who had Mills as a professor in multiple classes. They are working professionals.
I humbly suggest you interview one of them, or myself. I spent eight years as a professional actor/director. Please do your research before defaming a professor without the whole story.
– Jan van Amerongen, Class of 1998, BA Theatre Arts, Seattle
June 10, 2009 at 3:00 PM
Family support the key to college
It is going to take a lot more than money to fix the education problems in this state and this country. The fact that only one third of eligible eighth- and ninth-grade students have signed up with Washington’s College Success Foundation shows that there is relatively little interest in pursuing an education beyond high school ["Opening the doors to higher education," guest commentary, June 9].
By signing a contract with the state and maintaining minimal requirements (2.0 GPA and not getting a felony charge), low-income students would be guaranteed a four-year education after high school. Any family or student would be crazy to pass this up!
Our current education problem is not due to lack of money, or inadequate schools or teachers. The problem stems from individual families who do not show respect or concern for the education system. If parents can’t be bothered to mentor, support and monitor their child’s progress at school (which includes taking a pledge to get good grades and stay out of trouble with the law), there is little chance the child will be successful in achieving an education beyond high school.
– Cincy Schindler, Newcastle
DREAM act enables illegal immigration
Kate Riley’s “Harvesting a DREAM, ” [editorial column, June 5] which promotes subsidizing college education for illegal immigrants, clearly does not include a number of considerations.
First, it does not note that countries like Mexico do not provide books and transportation, let alone free K-12 education, and certainly not a subsidized college education. As a consequence of our doing so, a large percentage of the millions in Mexico are lured here by our largesse.
Next, it notes that 553 illegal immigrants have been subsidized into the University of Washington while not noting that increasing thousands of American students are denied admission, let alone getting state financing to do so.
Third, she says the illegal immigrant parents have “paid” taxes and “contributed” to Washington’s economy without noting the enormous educational, medical, welfare costs created by them, let alone the unsustainbility costs created by their population-growth impacts due to resource depletion, pollution and ecosystem degradation.
And finally, she says “the DREAM Act provides a path to legal residency for these students brought to the U.S. as children who have good moral character if they attend two years of college or enlist in the military.”
At the least, two years of subsidized community college, or technical school does not guarantee “good moral character.” But the DREAM Act does provide another to a long list of “lures” for hundreds of thousands of illegals to come to this country, and this guarantees that it will create problems that may be slightly alleviated in short term but never solved in the long term.
– Richard Pelto, Kenmore
Shift money from sports to academics
Apropos the “UW program gets pricier: one student’s cost up tenfold” [page one, June 6], I am prompted to pose several fundamental questions that, in view of the ongoing hype promoting the remodel of Husky Stadium, seem to be ignored.
Of the revenue produced by football, what percentage goes to academics in the form of scholarships, and if none, why not, and to what programs is such revenue directed?
In view of the apparent never-ending desire to indulge football, the inevitable and so far unanswered question is that of the UW’s purpose — namely, is the university in business to fund sports or academic achievement?
Were the stadium to be remodeled, what is the revenue increase projected to be, and of that, how much, if any, would be directed to mitigating tuition that onerous increase from $2,600 to $26,532 cited in the case of Gillian Ehrlich? The overwhelmingly high disparity between the tuition extant, at the time Ehrlich and her colleagues committed upon matriculation, and the forthcoming entrapment they now face is unconscionable.
Perhaps it’s time for the university hierarchy, and protection for the sacred cow, to share a greater portion of the funding burden by tightening their own belts instead of forcing such Draconian burdens on those least able to absorb increase.
– Skip Voorhees, Medina
June 5, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Higher education may no longer be worth it
We sacrifice our young people and their very future on the altar of consumerism that the college experience has become. The Times quotes the American Enterprise Institute that the college-graduation rate in our state is 59 percent in six years ["College graduation rate: We're among the best, but ..." page one, June 3]. Less than 60 percent of the time, we get what we think we’re buying.
Imagine the consumer outcry if the performance rates of electricity, running water, trash pickup or automobile reliability were only 60 percent. Combine the appalling higher-education results with the grim picture painted by The Times in the October series on college debt and it is obvious that we are being sold, and settling for, a bill of goods.
As soon as we began to regard college students as consumers instead of as our hope for the future, we began to care only about the short-term profits we could squeeze out of credit-fueled spending, creating enclaves of distraction instead of education.
My question is if entering college after high school represents a good investment and preparation for the future.
– Liz Tidyman, Bellevue
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