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Opinion Northwest

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

Topic: higher education

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April 22, 2014 at 6:09 AM

At long last, Washington lawmakers draw the line on tuition


State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane.

State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane.

You have to love what just went down at Central Washington University. Administrators offered a demonstration of college-and-university-level thinking when they figured out a way to raise tuition, even though a tuition freeze is in effect.

Then angry legislators jumped up and down and made a few screeching noises, and that was the end of that. The smart guys lost. But the even smarter ones won, and it represents a most-welcome sea-change in the Legislature’s thinking.


Comments | Topics: central washington university, college, higher education

October 18, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Catch mental health problems early

  Donna Grethen/Op-Art In the vast arena of public education, the part least understood or addressed well is mental health. Think about it. Schools remain vigilant about ensuring students perform well academically. Immunizations are legally required and periodic check-ups for hearing and vision remain even as school systems have cut back in many areas. These things are appropriate because they directly impact students in the classroom. Mental…


Comments | Topics: barack obama, children, congress

October 8, 2013 at 9:06 AM

Increase the minimum wage or increase educational levels?

Thoughtful responses have piled up in my email inbox since my column about Proposition 1 which, if approved by City of SeaTac voters, would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for about 6,300 workers at Sea-Tac airport and nearby hotels, car-rental agencies and parking lots.

I disagree with the Nov. 5 ballot measure. There’s not much point in raising the minimum wage for thousands when the issues are wage depression for millions of workers and a yawning gap between the skills workers possess and the ones they need to have a shot at a good paying job. Going city by city – SeaTac today, Puyallup tomorrow – will result in a nationwide shift in the minimum wage by, oh, 2070.

Dean Shoemaker from Kent said: “Of course, not many have the talent and determination of a Subelbia. All I would ask is that the minimum wage stay up with inflation. Choose any decade in the last half century, any you want and track inflation and the minimum wage down to the present. Minimum wage has fallen behind which suggests that working folks have  suffered a decline in their standard of living.”


Comments | Topics: 2013 elections, economy, Education

October 4, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Education offers more wage guarantee than SeaTac’s Prop 1

Nancy Ohanian/Op Art My latest column moves beyond debate about the City of SeaTac’s Proposition 1 to the low-wage jobs issue that inspired it. It is not clear whether voters will approve the Nov. 5 ballot proposal to raise minimum wage at Sea-Tac International Airport and nearby businesses to $15 an hour. The Washington Research Council opposes the measure out of concern…


Comments | Topics: children, economy, Education

August 13, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Seattle Central Community College should get Beacon Hill landmark PacMed

The choice of turning the old PacMed Center into apartments or classrooms is expected to be made Tuesday. The Pacific Hospital Preservation and Development Authority, the public entity that owns the sprawling art deco-style building atop Beacon Hill, is holding a public meeting Tuesday starting at 6 . Afterward, the authority’s governing council is expected to vote on whether to lease the Pacific Tower  building to Seattle Central Community College or to a…


Comments | Topics: democrats, Education, health care

July 29, 2013 at 7:09 AM

Readers respond to column linking poverty and geography

My recent column took on a sobering report by economists at Harvard and University of California at Berkeley that poor children growing up in certain cities will have a far more difficult time escaping poverty than others. Check out this New York Times interactive and map of the “Equality of Opportunity” project.

The reasons make sense: some cities, Atlanta for  example, are sprawling behemoths where good jobs, schools and housing are located geographically out of reach for low-income families, many of whom  often lack cars or other reliable transportation. Cities most likely to engender success, including Seattle, have strong economies and accessible public services.

Readers responded with views that often diverged on their personal ascents out of poverty:

Anna Bee wondered what researchers, and my column, meant by economic “success.” This reader also appeared to take issue with my mentioning social safety nets as key to successfully moving out of poverty.

“I am betting it has everything to do with how graciously one accepts handouts. I’ve never been good at that. We just weren’t raised that way. Maybe it is because our zip code was always changing so that my mother and father could keep us fed without having to ask for hand outs.”

Good ole Preposterousness from Idaho offered a sobering truth: “In today’s economy you can do everything right, including being born in the correct ZIP code, and still fall out of the middle class.”  Indeed.


Comments | More in Discussion | Topics: children, Education, higher education

July 19, 2013 at 6:40 AM

A new leader for the College Success Foundation

CSF_CEO_Yolanda_Spiva_2013 Yolanda L. Watson Spiva is the College Success Foundation’s  new chief executive officer and president, replacing co-founder and CEO Bob Craves who is retiring.

This is a quality match.

Spiva is coming to a foundation that has worked successfully in this state and Washington, D.C. increasing the numbers of young people, especially those from low-income families, in college. The Issaquah-based nonprofit was built on solid ground, the brainchild of Craves, a co-founder of Costco, and Ann Ramsay-Jenkins. Craves was co-chair of the Washington State 2020 Commission on the Future of Post-Secondary Education.  Craves and Ramsay-Jenkins deserve a community’s lasting gratitude for their ability and willingness to tackle Washington state’s low college attendance and graduation rates.

Tapping Spiva was a smart move. She brings a strong professional and civic resume, most recently as CEO and executive director of Project GRAD Atlanta, Inc., a nonprofit working with the Atlanta Public Schools to boost the number of students graduating from high school and college. Spiva also has ties to higher education. She was assistant dean at Trinity College in Washington, D.C.

The expectation that Spiva can not just sustain but grow the well-respected and effective CSF is not misplaced.


Comments | Topics: children, Education, higher education

July 18, 2013 at 7:40 AM

Senate may avoid eating our young by reversing doubling of student-loan rates

Chan Lowe / Op Art It looks like the U.S. Senate might actually be functioning. (+1 for immigration reform package. -1 for filibuster abuse.) On Wednesday night, a bipartisan deal emerged to reverse a doubling of loan rates for federally subsidized student loans. Rates were supposed to increase from 3.4 to 6.8 percent after July 1. Instead,…


Comments | Topics: higher education, student loans, u.s. senate

July 1, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Congress misses student loan rates deadline sinking college kids deeper in debt

20040912opart-fThe state Legislature narrowly averted a government shut down last week by passing an operating budget. Congress had a fiscally-related deadline too but failed to meet it. The result is that today federal student loan interest rates rose from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.  That’s double the current rate paid by more than 7 million students nationwide. The jump hits Washington state hard. Last year, 45 percent of the freshmen enrolled in our public higher-education system borrowed for college.

Congress’ failure is disappointing. Times editorials here and here argued for action by Congress. Last year, lawmakers extended the current rate when they could not agree on a  more long-term solution. But they  failed to do so this time. A nation hamstrung by more than $1 trillion in student loan debt must tackle interest rates.

Congress recessed for the Fourth of July holiday and several members of the state’s delegation, including Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Suzan DelBene will be at the University of Washington at 10 a.m. this morning to push for the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013 (S. 1238) which would extend low rates for a year giving Congress time to work on a long-term solution.

This McClatchy story alludes to a plan Congress may agree on by July 10. That’s a week out and here’s why Congress should meet the new deadline. 


Comments | Topics: barack obama, congress, Education

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