Inside Opinion

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Tag: education


If Common Core is a plot, then it’s a conservative one

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

To the hoax of the moon landing, George W. Bush’s secret masterminding of 9/11 and Detroit’s suppression of the water-fueled car, add another conspiracy theory:

Common Core is an Obamanian plot to seize control of America’s public schools.

This canard, astonishingly, is fast becoming an article of faith of the tea party movement and has even been picked up by the Republican National Committee, which ought to know better. As the adage says, a lie can make it halfway around the world while the truth is still lacing up its boots.

The Common Core State Standards — now being adopted by school districts in Washington and most other states — ought to be uncontroversial, especially to conservatives who beef about the basics that don’t get taught in public education. Read more »


Reality check on Pierce County health: Not so good

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

The results are in for Pierce County’s annual heath exam, and there’s no diplomatic way to put this: We’re in bad shape.

Of Washington’s 39 counties, Pierce ranked 26th and fared worse on almost every health metric in comparison to state and national results. This is according to the annual County Health Rankings by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin.

Pierce rated worse than the other urban-suburban Puget Sound counties, far behind King (ranked sixth), Thurston (ninth) and Kitsap (15th). We fare more poorly than both the state and national measurements in such categories as rates for low-birth-weight babies, adult smoking and obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, teen births, higher education, violent crime and access to healthy food.

Compared to state and national results, we have more premature deaths and more poor physical and mental health days. More of us are unemployed, and we have more children in single-parent households – a key risk factor for poverty and a host of other problems.

About the only category Pierce County excels in is access to fast-food restaurants: 50 percent of us have access, compared to 46 percent statewide and 27 percent nationally. It’s a dubious achievement that – combined with less access to healthy food – could be playing into our higher obesity rate.

So what’s the takeaway here? Unfortunately, it’s not a good one. The results show the need for more public health outreach to low-income and underserved populations at a time when budget cuts probably will mean less will be done. For instance, nearly half of the county’s 12 walk-in family support centers face possible closure due to cuts in Medicaid administrative matching funds.
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A teacher afraid of kids?

Did you hear about the Ohio teacher who is suing her school district for discrimination because she was transferred from a high school to a middle school? She claims she’s afraid of young children, so the transfer amounts to discrimination.

A teacher afraid of kids? Sounds as screwy as a journalist afraid of deadlines. Or a surgeon afraid of wearing a mask. Or a politician afraid of shaking hands. (Wait a minute, we had one of those as our assessor-treasurer!)

Now clowns . . . I can see being afraid of them. Who isn’t, right?

If you didn’t catch the

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Schools must override all else in 2013 Legislature

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

“Paramount duty” are the operative words for the 2013 Legislature.

As in: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.”

That sentence – from the Washington Constitution – spells out lawmakers’ overriding obligation; it is the core of the state supreme court’s McCleary decision.

The high court spoke pointedly to the Legislature last January when it defined those words: Read more »


Agenda for action in 2013

This commentary will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Again this year, The News Tribune’s editorial board has identified what we believe should be fundamental priorities for Washington state, this region and our communities.

The agenda below reflects the values and concerns that will guide our commentary through 2013.

At the top is education. With Washington’s economy recovering from five years of distress, this state should finally be able to invest more in its public schools and colleges. The state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision is more than enough reason to expand the opportunities we owe our children and grandchildren.

Our 2013 civic agenda:


Public education needs a radical rethinking this year.

For decades, the Legislature has been evading its responsibility to fully fund the state’s schools, expanding other programs while forcing school districts to rely on local levies to pay for such basics as textbooks, school nurses and bus drivers.

That’s got to stop, said the Washington Supreme Court last January in its landmark McCleary decision. The court demanded that the Legislature comply with the Washington Constitution, which states that “ample provision” for basic education is the “paramount duty of the state.”

Nor does basic education consist of harried teachers in overcrowded classrooms. As common sense and the court defines it, “ample” means far more the bare bones. Every child, even in poor school districts, must be offered the high-end academic skills needed to succeed in a complex, technology-intense world.

This means the Legislature must appropriate hundreds of millions of dollars more per year to the K-12 system. That’s going to require some very tough choices in Olympia, probably including more taxation.


The Supreme Court has no authority to raise taxes or micromanage legislative budgets. Budget-writers are accountable to the voters, which means that the public holds the ultimate power to demand or deny adequate funding for schools.

The public understands that simply dumping more money in an underperforming school system will produce only a more expensive underperforming school system. But Washingtonians can be persuaded to invest more in the system if they see greater accountability in their schools, high academic standards, and science-based teaching and administrative practices.

Voters will pay for results. They won’t pay for the status quo.


College opportunity doesn’t fall under the constitutional definition of basic education, but few students will find success in tomorrow’s economy without vocational or academic training beyond high school.
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Gregoire’s DOA budget plan offers roadmap of possible routes

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Entering her last few weeks as governor, Chris Gregoire tied up one of her constitutionally mandated duties Tuesday. She presented a 2013-2015 budget that makes cuts, raises taxes and is, almost certainly, dead on arrival.

But there’s value in this $34 billion lame-duck proposal, if only to frame the huge challenge before incoming governor Jay Inslee, the Democratic House and the closely divided Senate as they try to reach consensus on a budget.

As in years past, they’ll face a deficit (just under $1 billion), a still-shaky economy and a voter-approved initiative that limits their ability to raise taxes. Add to that the directive in January from the Washington Supreme Court to make progress on addressing a serious shortfall in funding for K-12 education.

The urgency of doing that was reinforced Thursday when the court ruled that the Legislature is moving too slowly in finding more money for education. Although the state has until 2018 to solve its education shortfall problem under the McCleary lawsuit decision, the court wants to see more steady progress than it’s seen so far.
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Democrats twist truth in attacking McKenna on education

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna says he wants to add $1 billion to the state’s public education budget. Now some Democrats are claiming that he favored cutting money for the state’s schools.

Somebody’s peddling an election season falsehood, and it’s not McKenna.

It would be convenient for McKenna’s opponent, Democrat Jay Inslee, if the Republican were trying to strangle K-12 funding. That stance would destroy McKenna’s standing among the centrist and independent voters he needs to get elected.

But that’s not the case, as the Seattle Times reported Monday. Read more »


The Boeing 737 lesson: Good schools = good jobs

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

A highly trained work force was a decisive factor – probably the decisive factor – in Boeing’s decision to build the 737 Max in Washington. Paying attention, lawmakers?

Supporters of a first-rate educational system – ourselves among them – tend to talk themselves silly about the connection between schooling, economic growth and jobs. But abstract statistics aren’t nearly as persuasive as the 20,000 jobs the 737 Max project will nail down in this state for many years to come.

The equation behind this triumph was simple: Good public schools + work force training + university engineering programs = busy assembly lines in Renton. And all of the above hinges on healthy funding for Washington’s K-12 system and public colleges.

But let’s give abundant credit to the Machinists Union whose members actually put Boeing’s airplanes together in this state.

The best training on the planet isn’t worth a rusty rivet if it doesn’t punch in when the shift starts. In years past, the machinists have been overly infatuated with strikes that have disrupted delivery schedules and exacted high costs from both Boeing and the airlines that buy its jets.

The company no doubt did plenty to poison its relationship with the machinists, but the fact remains that the strikes weighed heavily against expansion in Washington – as demonstrated by Boeing’s creation of a new Dreamliner production line in right-to-work South Carolina.
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