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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: Education

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February 2, 2015 at 6:00 AM

Why Washington schools fail to teach Native American history

When I first heard that Washington lawmakers proposed a law that would require public schools to teach Native American history, culture and government, my reaction was: why? This is 2015, not 1950! How is it possible that Washington – my dear, progressive home state – could be failing to teach important aspects of state history? Well,…


Comments | Topics: Education, history, Native Americans

December 16, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Inslee promises $2.3B more for schools, but does he go far enough?

Corrected version.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday night presented a $2.3 billion proposal on education spending for the next two years.

The announcement is part of the governor’s multi-day rollout this week of his budget priorities. His decision to announce different parts of his plan on separate days and wait until Thursday to provide funding details makes it harder to put his numbers into context.

Inslee said his education plan would fulfill the McCleary obligation — a state Supreme Court decision mandating the state to fully fund basic education — a year early. It also would provide more funding for early education and higher education. The governor’s plan calls for $1.3 billion toward McCleary in 2015-17 and $2.4 billion more to be spent in 2017-19.


Comments | Topics: Education, Jay Inslee, McCleary decision

October 27, 2014 at 6:19 AM

Just say ‘no’ to excessive demands for school fundraising

Student leaders at Garfield High School protested the loss of one teacher. Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times

Student leaders at Garfield High School protested the loss of one teacher. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)

During my sophomore year in high school, I raised more than $1,000 to pay for about half of a trip to visit Japan as part of a cultural exchange program.

After numerous car washes and selling candy bars to classmates, I learned that fundraising isn’t easy. Even though I had a part-time job, neither I nor my family could have covered the cost of the entire trip out-of-pocket.

Raising money for something extracurricular like, say, a visit to Japan, makes sense for public schools, but raising money to pay teachers’ salaries or basic school necessities is extremely troubling.


Comments | Topics: Education, fundraising, school budgets

August 27, 2014 at 6:04 AM

What it means for schools to lose control over Title I funds and No Child Left Behind waiver

No one should envy school district leaders right now. Many are in the process of sending letters to parents telling them their child’s school is failing to meet adequate yearly progress. Plus, they’ve lost control over a total of nearly $40 million in Title I funds used to help poor students improve reading and math…


Comments | Topics: Education, nclb, waiver

June 23, 2014 at 6:22 AM

Frank Blethen: When we fail to educate our children we are destined for failure

Editor’s note: Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen gave a commencement speech to City University of Seattle on Saturday about the importance of education. His prepared remarks are below the video.

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Head shot Frank Blethen, publisher, S

Congratulations on your degree!

What a wonderful accomplishment.

This will be one of the major determinants of your future.

This seminal step in your life is an important beginning. The beginning of the lifelong learning essential to maintain your economic and intellectual health in today’s uncertain and ever-changing world.

One hundred years ago, a high school education was our country’s primary path to a better life.

Fifty years ago, that path began to also require post-secondary education or technical training.

Today, a baccalaureate degree and life-long learning are essential.

In the future, two-thirds of new jobs will require a college degree.

How ironic that our state’s shameful disinvestment in higher education has resulted in 20,000 well-paid, high-skilled jobs going unfilled at this very moment, while our state’s wealth and opportunity gaps grow.


Comments | Topics: Education, Frank Blethen

November 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Saving the children at Childhaven

Cheryl Mason and her husband John (older couple on bottom row)  adopted seven children who came to them as foster children receiving services at Childhaven. Their children are now successful adults starting their own families, underscoring Childhaven's powerful role helping abused or neglected children grow into healthy adults. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Cheryl Mason and her husband John (older couple on bottom row) adopted seven children who came to them as foster children receiving services at Childhaven. Their children are now successful adults starting their own families, underscoring Childhaven’s powerful role helping abused or neglected children grow into healthy adults.
(Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Many in philanthropy and social services were caught off guard by federal Medicaid officials recent decision to cut off funding to Childhaven, which provides child care and therapy for abused and neglected children. Childhaven would lose $4 million a year, the combined total of the 50-50 match between state and federal Medicaid dollars — nearly half its revenue. Federal officials should reconsider.


Comments | Topics: child abuse, children, Education

November 20, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Lesson from the Horace Mann school building


Photo: Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times

Photo: Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times

Invoking the name of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager shot and kill by a neighborhood watchman in 2012, can be a powerful symbol of racial profiling and the challenges of being a young, black male in America. But on Wednesday, it was used by the remaining holdouts in the Horace Mann school building takeover in their crass attempt to gain public sympathy for an ill-conceived, and illegal, seizure of a public building.

Seattle police did their jobs. They pushed past chained doors and threats of a rooftop sniper and explosives-laden booby traps to arrest four people. The building is back in district hands and renovations on the school — delays of which had cost the district around $1,000 a day — can start.

AfricaTown Center for Education and Innovation, an umbrella organization for community groups that may or may not have been connected to those arrested yesterday, should have learned a lesson from all of this. The organization allowed its name and agenda to be co-opted by people with no interest or qualifications in building a school.  As Superintendent José Banda told the Seattle Times: “It’s hard to distinguish at this point who’s part of that group or not. The hangers-on are not necessarily part of the academic focus of that group.”

How did AfricaTown allow Omari Tahir-Garrett to speak for them? He was convicted of second-degree assault in 2002 after hitting a former Seattle mayor in the face with a megaphone, breaking several bones in the man’s face. Background checks, required in all educational settings, would seemingly have led to Tahir-Garrett’s exclusion rather than inclusion.


Comments | Topics: children, Education, k12

November 20, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Building steam under science, technology, engineering, math and the arts

The dearth of women in technology professions or girls taking STEM classes has been well-documented. But I found reason for hope recently during an afternoon with young girls studying STEAM, the acronym for science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics education, during full-day workshops on six consecutive Saturdays.

Robotic vehicles designed by girls in the BUILDING STEAM program by the Greater Seattle Chapter of the Links, Inc.

Robotic vehicles designed by girls in the BUILDING STEAM program by the Greater Seattle Chapter of the Links, Inc.

The girls were recruited from Seattle-area middle and high schools and community organizations by the Greater
Seattle Chapter of The Links, Inc., a volunteer service organization for women. At the TAF Academy, the Federal Way public school run by the Technology Access Foundation, the girls engaged in hands-on learning about robotics and gaming technology using NASA STEM education guidelines developed for the U.S. Department of Education. I met the girls on their final day when they had gathered at Rainier Beach Community Center to model their robots – including some talking ones – and debut video games they designed.

The games had stunning graphics and creative twists. I was especially wowed by those inspired by Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. Who says girls are not gamers!

Also, who says STEM should not include arts. The aesthetic of the games, their design and usability, was all about artistic values. The afternoon was a celebration of the girls’ accomplishments but for me it was also a glimpse at the promise of STEAM, rather than STEM, education.

President Obama has emphasized STEM education as necessary preparation for a global and tech-driven economy. I’ve written here and here about the sizeable gap between the number of tech jobs available and the number of job seekers with the training and education to fill those jobs.  The inbalance is greater for young people of color. National efforts draw attention to the dilemma, but it is dogged work at the local level, by advocacy and commnity groups like The Links, that moves the needle.


Comments | Topics: children, Education, race

November 18, 2013 at 12:36 PM

South King County’s Road Map Project is a national anti-poverty model

Anti-poverty efforts must move away from a singular focus on inner-cities and go where poverty is growing fastest: the suburbs.  People with limited economic means are stereotyped as living in inner-cities, but America’s poor more often than not live and struggle in suburban communities far from the things they need most, including public transportation, health care and jobs. These points rest atop rigorous…


Comments | Topics: children, Education, health care

November 12, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Social Venture Partner’s Fast Pitch is a novel approach to grantmaking

On the ABC show “Shark Tank,” entrepreneurs have mere minutes to persuade investors to line up behind their proposal. And on the FOX show “American Idol,” the audience weighs in on contestants, helping to select winners. A blend of the two television shows offers a sense of what’s in store at Social Venture Partners Seattle’s Fast Pitch, where non-profit and for-profit innovators will compete Wednesday evening for a slice of $250,000 in grants and investments.

Since 2011, SVP has put on the series of competitive rounds, winnowing the field from 90 applications to 44 quarter-finalists, 23 semifinalists and 13 finalists. Among this year’s finalists is Teachers United,  a two-year-old organization of about 250 public school teachers.

This video gives a sense of what’s in store on Wednesday evening.


Comments | Topics: Education, philanthropy, Seattle Public Schools

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