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NAACP opposes Tacoma school bond

Post by Cheryl Tucker on Feb. 27, 2009 at 10:39 am with 10 Comments »
February 27, 2009 10:39 am

We just received a letter to the editor from the Tacoma Branch of the NAACP expressing opposition to the March 10 Tacoma school bond measure.

According to the letter from branch president Gregory Christopher:

I am writing divulging the Tacoma Branch NAACP opposition to the Tacoma School #10 Proposition No. 1. This proposition calling for $300 million in general obligation bonds will soon come to a vote in the Tacoma area. For the past 25 years, we in the NAACP Tacoma Branch have been working through various committees and have been challenged by each one in an effort to improve what takes place inside the school house.

The quality of education by all accounts has declined over the years, and we believe this is where our investment now needs to focus.

The purpose of this proposition is to modernize the physical plant in this district. It proposes to continue the pattern of investment started in 2001, continued in 2002 and 2006. While the quality of facility is important, when we have invested almost three quarters of a billion dollars in the facade of education and witnessed a steady decline in the quality of education received by our children, We think it is time to change.

We think that this is an important proposition. It will consume resources the community may not be able to gather again for quite some time. The consequence in our view is a lost opportunity to focus on the real mission and priority of public education.

The facade of education in our humble opinion while deserving of appropriate attention is blotting out the sun of knowledge and leaving our children short changed. We urge the community in Tacoma School # 10 for the sake of our children, yours and ours, let’s go back to the trestle board and invest in the education of our children.

Taking notice
Leave a comment Comments → 10
  1. ColtonsDad says:

    Amen! I say ditto in regards to the Puyallup School District as well. Nice looking schools don’t equal a better educated student. Puyallup wants to add onto Emerald Ridge High School, this campus relatively new and is more equipped than some Junior Colleges.

  2. boonewrites says:

    It’s not about “nice looking schools.” This bond will provide funds to make schools safer and more accessible. The improvements paid for with these monies will promote the productivity of students and staff and draw upon fewer education resources for utility and related operating costs.
    Have you ever tried to teach or learn in a building where buckets catch leaks everytime it rains? Do you want your children in a classroom that’s always cold because the school’s boiler is inefficient and outdated?
    Yes, learning can certainly (and does) take place in outdated buildings. BUT, repairing these buildings and bringing them up-to-date allows teachers to focus on the work at hand rather than wasting their time/energy figuring out how they can teach in spite of the shortcomings of their physical surroundings.
    I wholeheartedly support this bond because I understand good schools are essential for overall health of our entire community.

  3. ProblemSolved says:

    A kid can learn in a hut in Africa, a war-torn building in Serbia, or anywhere else. I saw NAACP and figured it’d be an idiotic rant, but it makes sense. We keep tossing money into a system that doesn’t teach correctly. The system is broken and it doesn’t matter if the buildings are ship-shape when nothing is really gained in them. If teachers would stop crying about their pay (something they knew about waaaaay before they spent time becoming a teacher) and were forced to become innovative and useful, maybe we could worry about the physical state of the schools, until then we’re just remodeling daycares. As it stands now, I will not vote yes on schools until they address what and how they teach instead of where they teach and how much they get paid to do it.

  4. ldrider51 says:

    The NAACP position is succinctly and well put.The problem with education in this state stems, I believe, from the OSPI downward. The hope is that the new SPI, Dorn, can do something to improve things. That remains to be seen, I suppose.For way too long it seems that way too many of the education dollars (more than half of our state’s budget) has never made it out of Olympia to the classrooms where learning actually takes place.

  5. Are you guys kidding me? Why do we have touch tone phones in our homes then? And why don’t we still ride horses? Oh and why don’t we barter for goods instead of using currency?
    BECAUSE the times are and have changed!!! AND our schools need facilities that keep pace with those changes. It used to be that educationoften led the way with technology and new things to use…now they drift farther behind every day, month and year. if you don’t think so then try to go to an old house with Knob and tube wiring and run your high speed computer…if you could get service to it.

    If kids can learn in all those places, likie war torn huts, then why are we the leaders
    of the world in almost every way?
    If you want better schools then go spend some time in them. Go help in the “overcrowded” classrooms filled with kids that come from broken homes and have been beaten the night before and have not eaten a balanced meal in days and wears clothes that smell of urine…go and spnde time helping..I dare you, no I double dog dare you. You wouldn’t last one day before your utter dismay and disgust and frustration would send you scurrying for the nearest exit with the words flowing from your mouth…gotta go now.

    Yeah it may not be the building but pride in were you work or learn can and does have a significant impact on the outcome. The civic / community pride that grows in each and every area that is impacted by this renewal as a new school opens is amazing.

    But heck at this time in our country why would we want any pride in our neighborhood with people at work building a new school while teachers and students anxuiously await the new opprotunities to dream, grow and learn.

    pardon the spelling typing errors…I am in a poorly lit school typing on a TRS 80…

  6. buzzardinc says:

    It is a well written letter, however the statistics show that both quality of education and work towards reducing the achievement gap has improved in the Tacoma School District since the last bond was passed in 2001.

    It is also interesting that the writer would oppose investment in Tacoma’s School Buildings, but, by omission, support investment in Puyallup’s School Buildings.

    As long as schools around Tacoma continue to improve and we are encouraged to say ‘no’ it will difficult to reduce gaps in achievement.

  7. tacomajoe says:

    The first sentence of the letter’s last paragraph is desperately in need of commas. The “facade of education” and “sun of knowledge” are awkward in and of themselves, and when put together are atrocious. I give the letter-writer a C-.

  8. I echo the NAACP’s overall concern that education must be a higher priority in our state and local community. However, there are several factual inaccuracies in this letter, which I hope will be addressed prior to print publication.

    1) We have not had building bonds in 2001, 2002, and 2006. 2001 was the last bond, the other two were levies which *did* address learning investments.

    2) Tacoma’s schools have improved significantly in the past ten years, as measured by their overall test scores.

    As buzzardinc already noted, there are numbers to back up this assertion (with regard to the high schools, I believe the same trend exists in elementary and possibly middle schools, but haven’t yet run complete numbers):

    Not only that, but those improvements accelerated significantly when building improvements were made, in two of the three major subjects. Math scores have been lagging behind, however this is a statewide trend and may be a reflection of the much-hated math portion of the WASL.

    Additionally, the “achievement gap” between white and African American student test scores has narrowed dramatically (or even gone away altogether) in reading and writing at all five of our comprehensive high schools, a trend which has been particularly impressive at Foss and Mt. Tahoma, following capital improvements.

    (Keep in mind in this graph, down is good. The state graph shows the same trend with math scores.)

    There are studies which support a connection between poor physical condition of school buildings, and poor student achievement. (As well as overall health and safety problems associated with poor ventilation, mold, and poorly maintained structures.)

    For a list of just a few, visit this URL:


    3) I don’t think anyone supporting this bond disagrees that educational programming funding should be a greater priority. However, our state constitution requires ample funding for basic education, and that money should come from state sources. We can and do hold local levy (as opposed to bond) elections periodically to make up the difference, but ideally every group concerned with the quality of education in Washington State’s communities will work with the state legislature to ensure funding for quality education.

    On a more personal note, deep and lasting changes to our educational system are on the docket this session in Olympia. Exactly what form those changes will take is at issue right now. I hope the local NAACP chapter is a part of these developments and will take their concerns to the legislators drafting HB 2261 and SB 6048, and join the coalition of parents, organizations, and educators clamoring for change.

  9. crusader says:

    The NAACP has got it right. Just because the schools inadequately utilize their operating budget and fail to upkeep the bricks and mortar of the schools is not justification for building 21st century achitecturally correct monoliths. What a waste of tax dollars. As far as keeping up with technology, computers run on good ol’ 110 volt outlets. Pretty sure all the existing buildings have been electrified in the great state of Washington.

  10. I love history, thanks for bringing it up.

    – In the early and mid twentieth century when these buildings were built, we did not have an Americans with Disabilities Act. We did not have a culture of inclusion, and as a society we had not made the decision to provide all of our children with a public education regardless of physical ability. The ADA was passed in 1990. 19 years later, many of our schools are still out of compliance with accessibility requirements. This should be unacceptable to all of us.

    – In the early and mid twentieth century when these buildings were built, it was common practice in this country for schools in disproportionately poor and/or minority populated parts of town to be older, more run down, more cheaply made, and last on the list for improvements. The pressure that exists now (and should exist) to provide an adequate learning environment for all children was not much of a factor. We have grown up as a people, and that is a good thing. It costs money to have a truly world class school system, and to distribute those funds equally, but it’s money worth spending. A good school building does more than improve the health of the children who spend their days inside, it also sends a powerful message to them that they are valued by their community. This in turn seems to have an effect on their ability to learn.

    – In the early and mid twentieth century when these buildings were built, energy efficiency was not a huge concern. Fossil fuels were cheap, utility prices were low, and buildings weren’t designed around conservation. Things have changed substantially since then, and we can’t keep pouring money down the drain heating buildings that leak it right back out into the atmosphere.

    This bond will provide accessible, clean, efficient, modern school buildings that students can take pride in to three middle schools with student bodies that are 52 to 72% low income, and about 40% African American or Hispanic. I’m not sure I see the reasoning behind choosing these kids to teach the school district some kind of abstract lesson about policies not entirely within their control.

    Our president set a challenge for us this year, to fight the “sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.” Let’s not turn the clock back now.

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