Inside Opinion

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Tag: George W. Bush


Lawmakers finally take a step toward education reform

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

It rarely pays to get too hopeful about education reform in this state. But the Legislature – the Senate at least – has actually taken a major step toward accountability in Washington’s public schools.

Senate Bill 5895, which cleared that chamber Tuesday, requires the use of objective student-performance measures in the evaluation of teachers. It also requires that feedback from teachers be used in the evaluation of principals.

Teachers and principals can lose their jobs if they keep flunking the new tests. This turns Washington tradition on its head. In this state, it can take a felony to separate a faculty member from his or her job. Only the bravest administrators have dared tackle the convoluted, expensive process required to fire the incompetent.

Let’s not get giddy, though. The Senate’s move to tie “student growth data” looks impressive only in terms of the state’s benighted history. SB 5895 is not radical. It would not make Washington a leader in education reform. It would merely help the state catch up to the middle of the pack.

But the 46-3 vote in the Senate is impressive. Most education reform measures are throttled in committee. Once this one reached a floor vote in open daylight, lawmakers embraced it – if only to avoid shame in some cases.
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For U.S. troops in Iraq, mission accomplished

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

So that’s that. As of the end of the year, the Obama administration will have withdrawn all U.S. troops from Iraq, with the exception of a small contingent of presumably nervous embassy guards.

Obama’s recent announcement that the war was over was mere formality. For America, the serious fighting in Iraq ended a couple years ago, when Iraqi security forces took full responsibility for Iraqi security.

What’s driving the final withdrawal – a legal dispute – seems ridiculously anticlimactic. Some Iraqi leaders would as soon have U.S. forces on hand to keep training their troops, and the Obama administration would as soon keep them there.

The deal-breaker was the U.S. insistence on criminal immunity for American troops in the face of the Iraqi parliament’s refusal to grant that immunity. No triumphal parades, no helicopters fleeing from rooftops, just a breakdown in back-room negotiations. A whimper, not a bang.

The whimper, though, says much about the achievements of American troops in Iraq.
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NCLB waivers should inspire Congress to action

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Ten years after it was enacted, the No Child Left Behind Act needs overhauling. On that there is little disagreement.

But on how to do it? A lot of disagreement.

A polarized Congress hasn’t done anything to address the flaws in the education legislation that was a centerpiece of President George W. Bush’s presidency. The Obama administration’s unilateral decision to grant states waivers from the law should prod Congress to make substantive changes in NCLB.

The waivers – which are allowed under NCLB – would let states bypass 10 provisions of the act, including the requirement that all children show proficiency in reading and math by 2014. In return, states would have to impose their own standards to prepare students for college and careers and adopt more stringent performance-based evaluation standards for teachers and principals.

NCLB has served an important purpose by focusing money and attention on the worst-performing schools and the children who had few alternatives to attending them. Read more »


Mission accomplished?

Now that U.S. combat troops have left Iraq, this might be the perfect moment for our favorite Texas Air National Guard alumnus to dig out that flight suit and get his Top Gun groove back on.

President Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech aboard an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003, may have been seven years too soon, but how was he to know that the arms of Iraqis wouldn’t be welcoming? And what part of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” didn’t those ungrateful people understand? Did they really think we charged into their country looking for weapons of mass destruction?

As our combat forces leave Iraq, I’d like to give credit where credit is due – not for getting us out of Iraq, but for getting us into Iraq.

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