October 22, 2013 at 7:29 PM
Accept responsibility and think about our children’s future
Can’t we just support ourselves? What is this raging desire to pass debt on to our kids and grandkids? [“Obamacare: ‘Great start’ here, while Oregon lags,” page one, Oct. 18].
That recession was a glimpse of the future, and it was good for us! It made us all more realistic. Now, while people are still shaken by the recession, it is the time to change our ways. To our politicians I say, “Reform the government to live within its means, and expect us to do the same. Treat us like adults.”
Yes, our kids need help, but things aren’t what they need most. A kid’s need for love, compassion and a work ethic equals his need of an education and a healthy diet. Math and computer skills aren’t going to rescue our society.
Medical insurance isn’t going to stop gang fights. Welfare isn’t going to end drug dependence. Self-respect, confidence and work ethic taught in every school will go further than any pork a Congress member brings home.
It’s time to accept responsibility for our debts, time to model for our youth a workable, self-respecting lifestyle. Politicians who put the next generation’s true welfare ahead of their own careers will earn my respect and my vote.
Priscilla Schmidt, Auburn
September 2, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Put teachers back in the classroom
What frustrates the general public about teacher strikes is that the solution to teachers’ concerns is always the same: more money toward salaries or to hire more employees. The mantra is always the same, too: Strikes are “for the kids” while, not surprisingly, the solutions always seem to benefit the adults.
Kent teachers say they are striking ["Kent teachers vote to strike as talks go on," page one, Aug. 27] for lower class sizes, and their solution is to hire more classroom teachers.
Here are the facts: The Kent School District Web site says the district serves 26,833 students and employs 3,292 people, of which 1,745 are teachers.
This is 15.4 students per teacher. If class sizes are too big, then a solution lies with the staffing ratio of non-classroom teachers.
It appears the actual average districtwide class size is about 25 students, which would fill about 1,073 classrooms, yet the Kent District employs 1,742 teachers. Simple math says there are 669 teachers who are not “in the classroom,” and 1,550 other nonteaching positions.
Replacing non-classroom teachers with in-classroom teachers should not cost more money, and if done well, could actually save money.
I am confident the teachers will support this, since it is for the benefit of the kids.
– Daniel Hillman, Tacoma
Reduce class sizes by bringing in fresh faces
How would raising the salary of the teachers in the Kent School District reduce class sizes?
I suggest we take away say 5 percent to 10 percent of teachers’ salaries to hire new teachers to help downsize the numbers in the classrooms. They should be happy to eliminate the stress of so many children they are responsible for. How, I repeat how, can the classroom numbers be reined in by paying the existing teachers more?
Is the state ultimately responsible? We all (should) know the answer is yes. Even at the cost of loosing some overpriced art projects, we all have to fund in this state. Throwing more money at teachers will not diminish class sizes. Hire teachers, put people to work and replace the “deadwood” who have lost the desire to make a difference.
Please, hire new talent, and people who are interested in making a difference and glad to use their education. Now is the time to rid our educational system of the teachers who have lost their drive, as we cannot afford their expense or the negative impact they have on the children. We all know the ones we had in our time.
The teachers union should be at the front of this movement, if only for its members’ jobs. The union is well aware of problematic teachers.
If the union chooses to defend them, it will become one of the untold unions in this country that was all about itself, not in touch with the reason it was even formed.
– Richard Eirich, Kirkland
Teacher on strike? That will be $100 a day
I think it is about time to fine teachers so they suffer a monetary loss while striking — something like $100 a day. Bargaining employees in other sectors suffer financially, and it takes real backbone to strike, but if they didn’t lose anything there would be strikes all the time.
It takes a strong person to strike. Teachers can do it because they lose nothing and just create hardship on students and parents by late start and ending of the school year.
Financial loss is the only answer to stop them from going on strike so easily.
– Ed Williams, Renton
Teachers look like fools striking during recession
Its amazing to me in a time when all workers are being asked to do a little more, stay a little late and perform a little better during a recession, the teachers in Kent School District and other districts go on strike.
Teachers have every summer off, every weekend and every holiday. In Kent, they have been asked to meet in the morning and afternoon; I have asked my management team to do so as well this year to ensure every penny is accounted for, and we are all on the same page and performing well.
It’s amazing and a sad day for the unions again, when in the face of obvious hard times and struggles for everyone, they choose to stand up and make themselves and their members look foolish.
– Thomas Olson, Sumner
August 30, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Individual attention important to future success
Editor, The Times:
I am a 2003 graduate of the Washington state public school system now working in Portland. I’ve remained friends with several fantastic, supportive and inspiring teachers from my past, including several that are now working in the Kent School District.
As my K-12 school memories fade further into nostalgia and my agenda focuses more and more on my future theoretical children, the issues that the Kent teachers are fighting to amend ["Kent teachers vote to strike as talks go on," page one, Aug. 27] have a new sense of importance and urgency. We can’t afford to let our kids suffer in large, anonymous classrooms and become nothing but a number in a district database. Not in a recession, not in a rebound, not ever.
Teachers and education are institutions that stay with us past high school, past college, into our daily lives to create successful and contributing adults. With attention and guidance from a young age, they teach us how to behave well and listen to others in classrooms and future board meetings. They teach us to respect each other and stop gossiping on the playground and around the coffee pot. They help us find how we learn and work best, so we can get our homework and our business proposals done.
Lessons like these, begun in the home and nurtured in the classroom, are much too important to compromise. It is with all this in mind, and at stake, that I put all my support behind the Kent teacher’s strike.
– Tabitha Blankenbiller, Wilsonville, Ore.
Teachers’ raise a little relief in tough times
Let me get this straight. Many teachers have lost their jobs this fall due the financial meltdown of the marketplace. Those teachers who still have a job are facing higher classroom sizes due to the loss of their colleagues.
They will be working longer hours each day to keep up with their added responsibilities. The Legislature gave them a 0.6 percent pay cut by reducing the number of days they work by one day this year. And teachers’ out-of-pocket expenses for family medical premiums will increase by around $100 per month more than the hundreds of dollars they already pay. And your Aug. 24 editorial ["Merit pay for teachers would end fight on pay," Opinion] complains because Seattle teachers got a 1 percent pay raise this year.
Don’t you realize this 1 percent raise won’t even cover the loss of state pay and the rise in monthly medical premiums? It’s not like teachers’ lives are getting any easier. If fact, this year will be extremely difficult for most workers in our state.
If you need to complain about pay raises or bonuses this year, then you should spend your time complaining about the outrageous raises and bonuses financial people on Wall Street and executives in board rooms are making this year. They are getting pay raises while teachers are taking an overall pay cut.
Stop blaming the average worker for trying to maintain their working wages in this economy, and demand financial institutions stop giving outrageous salaries to the very people who tanked our economy in the first place.
– Peter G. Mohn, Bothell
Merit pay not a quick fix at all for improved education
The depth and breadth of the editorial board’s ignorance of our educational system and of teachers’ concerns and motivations took my breath away when I read the editorial on merit pay for teachers that appeared in The Times Aug. 24. In good conscience, I cannot let such a blatantly misleading portrayal of the situation stand unopposed by the facts.
The author states that, “Teachers are professionals who deserve strong compensation,” immediately after an unveiled dig at the teachers’ union for negotiating a 1 percent raise for its members “despite a recession meting out few raises anywhere.”
Does the author support strong compensation for teachers or not? The snide remarks about teacher strikes being illegal further undermined my belief in the board’s genuine support for teachers. By the way, if you were paying attention, you know that teachers in Bellevue felt compelled to strike because of detrimental teaching practices that had been foisted on them. Salary concerns were a secondary issue.
Merit pay is offensive to many teachers who, like me, bridle at the assumption that I would work harder to do a good job of educating my students if you paid me more. I wouldn’t.
I work as hard as I can right now because I am a dedicated professional, and I have a very challenging job. Public education functions fundamentally differently from private industry, in which incentives like pay raises for increased productivity make sense.
People want educational reform because they want improved teaching and learning. Hallelujah! That takes a concerted effort over the long term with a significant investment of energy, research and resources.
If you’d like to know how it can be done, read the thoughtful article published in The Times about Finland. The Finns did it. It just took a commitment and plenty of money, a lot more than a futile quick fix like merit pay.
– Marianne Clarke, Seattle
A stark picture made worse by merit pay in rough schools
It sounds so logical to tie student achievement to teacher’s employment and or pay.
Teacher merit pay, based on a child’s progress from A to Z, is inherently flawed and demeaning to teachers. You need only to teach or sub — not just visit — in the Seattle School District’s “extremes” to be startled at the push for performance pay.
In the so-called failing schools, a teacher using all effort and resources may move a student only one bump on a progress chart. This hardly measurable step represents the best and deserves recognition.
In these poor achieving schools:
Income issues dominate family life, and one parent, grandparent or foster family are all too often the home life of many students. Parent involvement is minimal and adults at home are frequently victims of school failure while serious language and cultural issues run deep.
Class sizes can’t be reduced but school aids are. Volunteers are few and far between. Discipline is complicated and daily disruptions rob children of learning.
Contrast this picture with “high performing” schools, which operate under the other side of all the negatives.
Contrary to the unchallenged mantra, we don’t need to find and place the best teachers in our “failing” schools — they are already there. We only need to honestly support them.
– Michael McCullough, Seattle
In alternative schools, creativity thrives
Kudos to Lynne Varner for describing alternative public schools in Seattle as “models of creativity” ["State needs to hone its game in fight for education dollars," Opinion, column, Aug. 26]. Thanks also to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who also recognized that our programs can hold their own against the ever-popular charters: “The secretary was clear, that’s what they’re looking for — nontraditional schools that allow students to excel,” Gregoire told The Los Angeles Times. “I would like to show him some of our alternative schools and get his feedback.”
As a parent of two children in public alternative programs, I have been disappointed that local leadership has been unable to recognize what alternative schools offer. The nonsupport we have become accustomed to over the last several administrations has turned into action that directly harms our programs under Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, including school closures, forced relocations and the loss of autonomy so central to the charter model.
We hope the district’s alternative-school audit, scheduled for September, will highlight the innovation that has been happening in our district for decades. Otherwise, alternatives will be out, and we will be stuck with charters, which were recently shown in a national study to offer little improvement over traditional public schools.
– Chris Stewart, Seattle
August 24, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Some required reading for health-care debaters
Kudos to The Seattle Times for printing an excellent guest column by Robert J. Herbold and Scott S. Powell ["Government-dominated reform will not improve health care," Opinion, Aug. 23]. These two guys really nailed it. It should be required reading by anyone interested in the current debate on whether or not to allow the federal government to become so heavily involved in our health-care system.
As the writers point out in such easy-to-understand wording, government health care would be a disaster, as a majority of Americans seem to be grasping. With the news now coming out of more and more trillions of dollars being added to President Obama’s — not Bush’s — deficit in the near future, the country simply cannot afford to let Uncle Sam further screw up the system.
– Scott Stoppelman, LaConner
Diminished regulations, not collectivization, the threat to economy
Robert J. Herbold and Scott S. Powell try to compare failure of collectivization in the manner of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to an anticipated failure of collectivization in government-paid health care.
Encouraging borrowers to amass massive debt in an attempt to make huge profits cannot be equated to spreading risk over the entire population to make health care affordable. To bring about the housing crisis, regulations were diminished, thus encouraging fraud and foolish behavior. To obtain affordable universal health care, enforced regulations and standards would discourage abuse and foolish behavior. Collectivization, in itself, has nothing to do with it.
Read H.R. 676 instead of the endless explanations by Congressman Rick Larsen, Blue Dogs and agenda-driven think tanks that believe a single-payer health system will not work.
Denis Cortese of the Mayo Clinic ["Fresh ideas boost health reform," Opinion, syndicated columnist, Aug. 2] says it will work, and he has no incentive to deceive us.
– James Bruner, Oak Harbor
Time for personal accountability from corporate crooks
I certainly hope The Seattle Times didn’t pay Robert J. Herbold or Scott S. Powell for their thinly disguised market-knows-best rant.
Not only do they attempt to tag proponents of national health care as collectivists, but they blame the entire financial collapse on government bureaucracy. The financial collapse isn’t due to the fact that twice in 30 years lenders have gamed the system with straw buyers and conveniently obfuscating financial instruments. No, financial collapse was due to government mismanagement and the suppression of infallible market forces.
Their thesis is hogwash, and until this country demands accountability out of both individuals and corporations, we will be systematically fleeced again and again. We need to treat swindlers harshly. No more country-club jails. Life sentences and hard labor.
Complete forfeiture of all property and equities including those belonging to anyone accepting transferred assets. And while we’re at it, break up the corporate boards of directors who enable the “your lotto winnings are peanuts compared to my annual earnings” corporate pay structures.
Don’t let businessmen tell us how to receive benefits that should be national services, or we are all going to become commodities working at the discretion of corporate overlords.
– Michael McInnis, Seattle
Government shouldn’t need to have all the answers
The article by Robert J. Herbold and Scott S. Powell was the best I’ve seen on the range of things it covered.
I hope there is still time to avert becoming just another country with citizens expecting the government to answer all of society’s problems instead of taking personal responsibility for the choices made in life.
It’s difficult to choose which of their points is best because the article is full of excellent ideas, but this one is right up near the top: “It is ludicrous to spend additional hundreds of billions for supposed health-care reform that will limit options, weaken competition and create the largest U.S. government bureaucracy ever while ignoring the reasons behind the insolvency of Medicare and Medicaid.”
– Jeanie McBee, Kenmore
Talking personal responsibility from an ivory tower
When Robert J. Herbold and Scott S. Powell claim in their guest column that “over the past 45 years personal responsibility has been marginalized by collective government policies,” they presumably refer to the adoption of Medicare in 1965 but lack the guts to say so.
In their rant against “collectivist political power” from the sanctuary of the Hoover Institution’s ivory tower, they display an insufferable arrogance and ignorance of the real world in which the United States is the only economically advanced country on the planet that doesn’t or can’t provide its people with the peace of mind of guaranteed adequate health care.
Herbold and Powell may have failed to notice that China, which they seem to offer as a model of economic and social policy, is still a communist-collectivist state that provides universal health care to its people.
I have no doubt that Herbold and Powell would also welcome the abandonment of Social Security and a return to the good old days of the late 19th century before the government started interfering with private industry by regulating child labor, wages, hours and the right of workers to organize.
– Dan Levant, Seattle
August 18, 2009 at 4:00 PM
In clunkers program, forgetting the three Rs
It seems people remember only two of the three R’s: Reduce (what’s that?), Reuse (huh?), Recycle (aah, there we go).
Many people seemed to have adopted a mindset like this: “I never reduce anything I consume, or reuse old but still workable things, but I throw that empty gallon in the green bin every time, so I can feel self righteous about my environmental efforts.”
This same flawed mindset about helping the environment by recycling while not reducing or reusing is as flawed as the Cash for Clunkers program. People trade in perfectly good used cars for newer ones with better gas mileage, and although there is a benefit to better gas mileage, it doesn’t offset the bad environmental impact that comes with destroying a good used car that could be reused.
This is simply a taxpayer-funded bailout of the auto industry that ultimately is going to cause a short boom followed by another hard bust. And the low-income folks, or just those trying to not live off credit like me and my family, now have fewer good used cars on the market to choose from, and with less supply there is more demand and higher prices.
Sure this will help the auto industry, but what about the auto-repair industry, which now has fewer used cars to maintain? People forget these government actions that help one group always hurt another group.
A better alternative is HR 1768, which would give tax rebates to those trading in for more fuel-efficient cars. This would allow those who trade in to keep more of their own money through a tax rebate, while not causing the taxpayer to be billed for an environmentally unfriendly program. It would also give those with less money more used cars to choose from.
– Seth Copeland, Edmonds
August 16, 2009 at 6:14 AM
Hey, we’re hanging in there
To all my friends around the country, regarding your question: “How’s the recovery going in Seattle these days?”
Oh, it’s going just great! Ph.D.s are looking for work outside the Home Depot, PCC is doing workshops on “Cooking with Grass and Other Backyard Delicacies,” the population of cats is diminishing rapidly, and I-5 was closed last week for a citywide block party.
Boeing is using their runway-maintenance vehicles as a fleet of ice-cream trucks. Microsoft is having a blowout blitz on all of their discontinued 2007 software (as-is, as usual), Starbuck’s introduced Instant Water, and Whole Foods changed its name to Half Foods.
The Mariners merged with Ivar’s last week, and Chase (nee WaMu) is offering grilled sandwiches at ATMs throughout the region.
As an incentive to create jobs, Mayor “Nickels for the Poor” Greg Nickels introduced a 20-hour workweek, which, of course, for Seattleites means that no work is being done anywhere.
The floating bridges have sunk, Seattle is cut off from the rest of the world, and the once-friendly citizens of Redmond and Bellevue have taken up arms against each other. Nordstrom’s is supplying uniforms for both sides.
The physical climate has changed as well — Safeco Field makes the NOLA stadium look like child’s play. They are turning out the lights tonight, and iCurfew starts in five minutes, so I have to go.
Jobless in Seattle.
– Tom Lewis, Seattle
July 21, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Forget more taxes, let’s scrap the foot-ferries idea
King County Executive Kurt Triplett says we have to raise taxes to avoid closing 39 parks, public-health clinics and regional police services ["County exec: Tax needed to avoid closures," NWSaturday, July 18].
I’ve got a better idea: How about funding those necessary services by shifting funds from the new $220 million foot-ferry fleet that King County wants to install on Lake Washington and Puget Sound ["The folly of foot ferries," NWWednesday, Danny Westneat column, July 15]? The cost for a 30-minute walk-on ferry ride in that system is estimated at from $24 to $324 per rider. And that’s only one-way!
None of these planned routes are projected to attract more than 300 riders a day, even during the highest ridership period. King County throws precious taxpayer dollars at quixotic projects like this foot-ferry fleet, then comes whining to the taxpayer that, “We simply don’t have the money for public-health clinics and regional police services.”
– Frank Schumann, Seattle
Cut the nonessentials instead, taxes have already risen
King County Executive Kurt Triplett talks about supporting a property tax increase, but he fails to mention property taxes have already increased for the 2009 tax year. Council members Larry Gossett and Julia Patterson have proposed this bright idea.
The facts are that the value of my Shoreline home increased by 12.5 percent for the 2009 tax year despite the fact that property values decreased in 2008. The 2009 tax amount increased by 13.5 percent. Not a small jump, and I am certainly not in favor of another property-tax increase.
Increasing the sales tax is another bad idea. Visiting a shopping mall clearly indicates that people are limiting their spending for nonessentials. Those on unemployment have already tightened their belt more than once, so where does Triplett think the money will come from?
Maybe the King County Council should look at their budget and eliminate the nonessentials from their spending.
– Fran Whitehill, Shoreline
July 2, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Diversifying, staying away from oil are best practices
I would say that your page one of Pacific Northwest poster boy, Larry Strunk ["Legions of 'haves' are now the 'hads,'" Pacific Northwest magazine, June 28], was more a victim of unwise investment practices than a victim of the recession.
First he was “day-trading oil stocks” in his 401(k) — which is speculating in my book. When that didn’t work, he invested all of his 401(k) in one stock, Washington Mutual. Again, he was speculating, and he was not diversifying — a major prudent investing tenet. He is betting on one company in one industry.
If Strunk had abided by a few basic investment rules, he would not be in the fix that he now finds himself.
– David von Wolffersdorff, Seattle
April 26, 2009 at 4:08 PM
Can’t have one without the other
Recently I read an editorial praising young people who are increasingly choosing public employment as a career path ["More students drawn to public-service careers," Opinion, April 17]. Within days we saw an editorial demanding no further tax increases ["No more taxes," Opinion, April 19].
The letter regarding public service made no mention of volunteerism, only the value of entering the career path of a public servant. Of course, these jobs would need to be paid with taxes, which you also seem to be against.
Perhaps a better approach would be to ask readers to volunteer in their communities, helping alleviate the pressures on public servants, not advocating for increasing government-worker ranks.
Our country needs media companies like The Seattle Times to encourage young people to enter private employment, work hard and volunteer their hard-earned time talent and treasures. Oh, and pay taxes to support a modest number of government employees.
– Kevin Sutherland, Seattle
April 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM
A waste of taxpayer money
If there is a single barometer of what’s wrong in America, it has to be that the government needs to rent the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall to fill one job and that a journalist can see nothing wrong with that ["1,400 apply: 'I was the lucky one,'" NW Tuesday, April 21]. Why should taxpayers have to pay for that?
For just a meter reader!
– Gerald Petz, Sammamish
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