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EDUCATION: Where’s reform from the WEA?

Letter by Brad Slusher, Tacoma on March 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm | 16 Comments »
March 12, 2012 2:03 pm

Re: “Here’s an idea for rich school reformers: Listen to teachers” (Your Voice, 3-11).

Patricia Drake is certainly correct in her summary statement that “We can do better.”

Siding with Washington Education Association (WEA) President Mary Lindquist against millionaire Nick Hanauer, Drake seeks to dismiss his reform agenda as inferior to her 44 years as an educator.

She bemoans the fact that she has no voice when compared to the millionaire, yet if education reform were going to come from the WEA, its more than 53,000 teachers and millions of dollars it has to spend from teacher’s union dues on influencing public policy, shouldn’t it have happened by now? They’ve certainly had enough time!

She then asserts that we need to become like the Euro-socialist Finland, a country the size of Montana with about 1.6 percent of the population of the U.S. I suspect something will be lost in translation when attempting to transform our system into theirs.

She points out the school principals as the next most influential factor and their need to build a more “positive” environment, followed by “administrative support,” “workplace conditions” and the cost of “standardized tests” – the usual laundry list of union complaints. There’s really nothing new here.

Hanauer’s reform agenda, while far from innovative, is certainly better than anything coming out of Olympia. I would like to suggest that the WEA, state legislators, teachers and civic leaders look up the word “innovate.” To quote a famous movie line, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

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