Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: schools


School, fire district measures deserve voter support

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

When it comes to ballot measures to be decided Nov. 6, most of the attention has swirled around the controversial referendum on same-sex marriage and initiatives backing charter schools and marijuana legalization.

School and fire district measures might not grab headlines, but they’re vital to a community’s quality of life. Voters from Federal Way and Auburn to the Key Peninsula and the slopes of Mount Rainier have important issues close to home to decide. The News Tribune editorial board recommends that they approve the following measures:
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More dollars, more graduates

Does more money spent on public schools translate into better performance by students?

People have been arguing over that question for decades. The Washington State Institute for Public Policy – which does non-partisan research for state government – just published what looks like a thorough “meta study” of other research, including some from other countries.

It did conclude that more money can make a difference, though mostly when it’s targeted toward lower grades. Spend 10 percent more, and WSIPP estimates the high school graduation rate could be raised from 76.6 percent to 79.5 percent. That’s not a huge gain

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Main question with Indian mascots: Are they respectful?

Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

On the subject of mascots named after American Indians, most of us can probably agree on two points:

• The names weren’t selected to demean Indians. On the contrary, names like “Braves,” “Chiefs” and “Warriors” certainly were adopted because they communicate strength and power. Many sports teams select names that instill a sense of awe, perhaps even to intimidate. After all, few teams are named “Puppies” and “Wimps.”

• Some schools portray their Indian mascot in ways that many today would consider embarrassing, such as when war-painted non-Indians dress up in feathered headdresses, execute tomahawk “chops” and scream faux war whoops.

While many schools make an effort to portray their Indian mascot in culturally sensitive ways, it’s not always easy to control how young males choose to behave in support of their teams. If it were, there would be no need for security guards.
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Fix the schools, fix the teaching profession

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Credit Gov. Chris Gregoire with out-of-the-box thinking for her plan to restructure the bureaucracy of education in this state. We just wish she’d thought a lot further out of the box.

Gregoire’s idea is intriguing, as far as it goes. She wants to lend some coherence to the collection of fiefdoms that reputedly oversees education at the state level.

Under her proposal, the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Board of Education, Higher Education Coordinating Board, State Board for Technical & Community Colleges and other entities would all get folded into a new state Department of Education.

Gregoire is very right about one thing: Public education in Washington ought to be a seamless whole, from preschool through technical or academic higher education. The system is inexcusably fragmented, more to protect turf than to serve students.

The lack of coordination is appallingly evident in the abundance of discouraged college students mired in remedial education, studying what they should have learned in high school, and the abundance of high school students doing college-level work without earning college credits for it.
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Race becomes obligatory in Washington schools

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

In Washington, a schoolchild can be white, African American, Latino, Asian America, Native American, Pacific Islander and more than 50 permutations thereof.

What’s not permitted is apathy about race.

Schools have long tried to get parents to identify their children by race. That’s a good idea for several reasons. For example, there’s no way to see what’s happening with the “achievement gap” if blacks and Latino students can’t be compared with white and Asian-American children.

Now the state is pushing that generally good idea to the point of ridiculous absolutism.

Not all parents want to classify their kids racially, and not all of them care. Lots of kids show up at school without having been properly profiled by their moms or dads. The requisite forms could be filled out with boxes checked for “unknown,” “multiracial” or “declined to answer.”

Under a new policy, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is permitting no such ambiguity. A race must be assigned – and the people at school will have to do it if the parents won’t.
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Voters endorsed schools – not taxes

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Conventional wisdom had it that school levies faced iffy prospects Tuesday in this climate of economic trouble. Conventional wisdom was wrong.

Unemployment may be high and financial confidence low, but voters throughout the South Sound renewed levies for their school districts by immense margins. In Tacoma, the spread was 65-to-35 percent. In Puyallup it was 70-to-30 percent. In University Place, 67-to-33 percent. In the Bethel School District, 59-to-41 percent.

Those aren’t landslides; they are tsunamis.

Icing on the cake: Tacoma’s $140 million construction-and-technology levy passed 59-41 percent. As of Thursday, the Clover Park School District’s $92 million school-construction bond measure enjoyed 62 percent approval rate. Tacoma and Lakewood voters were looking past the immediate distress and buying new schools for the future.

This swell of public support shows how highly the region’s citizens value public education in general and their own schools in particular. What it doesn’t show is that Washingtonians are ready to add to the burden they’re already bearing.
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Vote to support your local schools

Tuesday is an important one for many South Sound school districts. They need voters to either get to the polls or remember to turn in their absentee ballots and support continuation of important maintenance and operation levies.

Those levies aren’t about frills. Although the state supposedly funds basic education – and a King County judge disputes that – school districts would have a hard time educating students and complying with state and federal mandates without levy money. In fact, levies fund about 20 percent of districts’ budgets. Without it, schools would have to cut down to the barest of bones.

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