Letters to the Editor City should try to support local businesses

For a long time I have been extremely saddened and frustrated at the city’s attempt to spend money out of town and make it seem as if it is an attempt to bring in business. Here is what we know: the city of Enumclaw has spent thousands of dollars with a company called Destination Development, an out-of-the-town company. This was all an attempt to give the city a new look and bring dollars back into the city.

For a long time I have been extremely saddened and frustrated at the city’s attempt to spend money out of town and make it seem as if it is an attempt to bring in business. Here is what we know: the city of Enumclaw has spent thousands of dollars with a company called Destination Development, an out-of-the-town company. This was all an attempt to give the city a new look and bring dollars back into the city.

Here are a few facts that we also know. Every summer and winter this city has droves of people come through it as they are bound for Mount Rainier and its various destinations. These visitors spend money at all of the local restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and the Ski & Mountain Co., to name a few. A good marketing company also knows that if you target your existing clientele you will have a 68 percent success rate on recouping business as opposed to an 8 percent success rate to acquire brand-new clientele. Hmmm, yet we have spent thousands of dollars with an out-of-town company to come up with a new logo and marketing campaign to target the “new” equestrian clientele that we hope to bring to the city. That may be well and good with some of us but it doesn’t seem like the smartest business decision to me. I certainly think there is nothing wrong with building a new direction and new clientele but to ignore existing business is just a bad business decision.

While I am on the topic of business, that is my real beef with the city. The Chamber of Commerce is doing its best to remind the local citizens to shop local, yet our own city in a very large purchase did not consult any of the local design and marketing companies within its limits. I realize I may be biased as we co-own The Printers Inc. and are hired by companies all over the U.S. to design and market their business but we were not approached to do any type of proposal for our own city. I am not just concerned about ourselves: let me name a few very well known designers in our city that are hired by companies all over to do just what our city took out of town – Visual Studios TV, Tyler Rogel, Morgan Designs, Notations. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg of local design and marketing experts and yet not a single one of us was approached by the city once to come up with a proposal. It seems to me the city ought to practice what the chamber preaches.

Darami Coulter

Enumclaw

District asks just for the necessities

When I served as the Enumclaw school levy campaign coordinator in 2000, I learned something about the financial philosophy of the district: they don’t ask for something until they really need it.

In 2000, you may remember that the district needed some new buses: in fact, the State Patrol took a look at some of our older buses made in the 1950s and said, “They do not belong on the road, let alone transporting children.”

This year, the same thing can be said for funding for the repair work and the IT foundation job: they are asking for the minimum amount needed – and not a dollar more.

Tom Redman

Enumclaw

Writer erred in comments on presidents

Benjamin Disraeli is frequently credited with saying that there are three degrees of falsehood: lies, damned lies and statistics. It seems that J. Buss has managed to insinuate all three into his recent letter. That letter is a litany of unfounded assertions completely divorced from reality, opinion masquerading as fact and numbers fabricated from wishful thinking. To wit:

First, the lie. Buss asserts that Bill Clinton started the “incredibly unAmerican policy of undermining a sitting president,” a time-honored practice which began with Thomas Jefferson. If it were true, which it patently is not, perhaps Buss could explain why President Bush appointed Bill Clinton as co-chair with his father in the tsunami and hurricane relief efforts, Bill and the Senior Bush have become close friends, and why Barbara Bush has referred to Bill as being almost like a son. Perhaps too much of the hateful bile spewed by Rush Limbaugh has accreted in his head.

Second, the damned lie, “only an evil person could do what Jimmy Carter has done.” Jimmy Carter, the devout Christian who has taught Sunday school for his entire adult life; the Naval Academy graduate (10th in his class) who served on submarines and helped develop our nuclear submarines; Jimmy Carter, the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize; the founder of the Carter Center which has worked to improve global health through control and eradication of diseases; the primary sponsor of Habitat for Humanity who has not only raised millions of dollars but has spent thousands of hours in actually building homes for families. To describe this man as evil is bile of a truly hideous nature.

And third, the statistics. I can’t guess out of what fevered imagination Mr. Buss has created the assertion that there was “12 percent unemployment” during Carter’s presidency. In fact, the worst unemployment rates of the entire post-World War II era were during the second and third years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency (9.71 and 9.6 percent). Never during Carter’s term did the rate rise above 7.2 percent and his average rate was 6.5 percent while Reagan’s was 7.5 percent (facts easily discovered from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but then, some people prefer convenient made-up facts to those that are verifiable).

It is perhaps due to the youth of Mr. Buss that he is so easily taken in by the purveyors of fatuous falsehoods. It was while Mr. Buss was still in diapers and I was receiving my second degree in political science that I learned to value the words of John Adams, spoken at the Boston Massacre trials, “Facts are stubborn things, and whatever the wishes or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Robert DuChaine

Buckley

Dropout rate needs to be addressed

I want to know, who is going to bail out the children of today as far as education goes? I am unhappy with both our federal and state governments. The federal government decided to bail out the auto industry with billions and billions of dollars. It’s not the youth of today’s fault. They didn’t ask to be born and they didn’t overspend the nation’s budget, so why should they have to suffer for all the country’s financial problems by not receiving a decent education?

Our governor has decided to cut the school budget by $1.2 million dollars. She stated over and over again in her bid for re-election, that the state of Washington’s budget was balanced. They are getting less and less of an education all the time. We all pay taxes and pay for levies for all of the children to receive an education even if handicapped.

I’m not sure the country really understands how desperate the issue of education has become. The problem could really be more grave than anyone realizes. That is because states don’t calculate their dropout rates the same way and many of their formulas obscure the size of the problem.

Enumclaw High School had a dropout rate of 30 percent last year. For the size of our community that is sad, to say the least. Nationwide, the dropout rate was 1.2 milion last year and may have been higher than estimated. One child drops out of school every 15 minutes. No longer is this country the world’s leader in education as Japan, Russia, China, and India are far more advanced than we are in this country.

Children who leave school without a diploma suffer the greatest hardships. Children without an education usually become parents at a young age. Dropout children are usually less healthy and die at a much earlier age than those with a high school education. Dropouts cost the nation about $260,000 in lost wages, taxes and productivity per year.

Each student who graduates from high school will save states an average of $13,706 in Medicaid and expenditures for uninsured care over the course of his or her lifetime. States could save more than $17 billion if those same young people had earned their high school education.

Prisons and jails house 2.2 million inmates, 59 percent of whom are high school dropouts. The cost to house all those inmates is $60 billion a year. The programs targeted to help stop dropouts (high at risk youths, etc.) are designed to prevent dropouts, crime, drug abuse and other forms of delinquency. The programs that schools are using are not working and we as taxpayers, mothers, fathers and all family members, need to get involved and figure out what will work. Based on a 2 percent discount rate, a typical career criminal causes about $1.3 to $1.5 million in external costs. A heavy drug user $370,000 to $970,000. A high school dropout $243,000 to $388,000. An overall estimate of the monetary value of saving a high-risk youth would be about $1.7 to $2.3 million.

Some of the reasons for kids dropping out of and disconnecting from high school are cited as academic challenges, boredom, being picked on by other students and the burden of sudden parenthood. Yet most of the dropouts are students who could have succeeded in school. High school dropouts believe that they could have succeeded with more discipline, rigor, caring and more time invested by teachers, the schools and more time being invested by family members. We did not need to change the child abuse laws. The law was changed to the other extreme. Lawmakers should have met in the middle somewhere. Parents are concerned regarding disciplining, for fear that the state will take their children, if the child tells someone their parent has been mean to them. The schools have their hands tied in regards to disciplining or keeping kids in school. The schools need to have some form of accountability for all the funding they receive for education. Teachers need to have an accountability or standard to meet regarding their education before receiving a pay raise.

What happened to saying, “No child will be left behind?”

Gayle Boyer

Enumclaw

The Courier-Herald received

an abundance

of letters

regarding Wickersham School of Discovery. They are packaged on Page B5.

District has good teachers in all schools

Recent letters to the editor from School of Discovery parents, concerned about the possible closing of the school, have reflected how much this school is loved and valued.

I have had the privilege of working for the White River School District for the past 17 years, both as a teacher at Elk Ridge Elementary and most recently as an instructional coach. In my current position I have had the opportunity to work side by side with staff and administrators in all five of White River’s elementary schools. While I have not served as an instructor at School of Discovery, I am well acquainted with the school and my colleagues who work there. It is indeed a special place and it’s easy to understand why parents and students of the school are concerned about losing it.

That said, perhaps it will be of some comfort for parents to know that School of Discovery does not exist in isolation. I am proud to be a part of a school district that values shared goals and collaboration. The School of Discovery staff members meet regularly with their colleagues from the four other elementary schools in the district to discuss their practice and to support each other in seeing that all of our district students have every opportunity to reach their full potential.

All five of our district elementary schools staff highly qualified, caring teachers. The majority of these teachers are high-achievers who hold master’s degrees, work ridiculously long hours and collect things like empty egg cartons, all because they care so deeply about seeing their students experience success.

Speaking of success, while we are proud of School of Discovery WASL scores, they are actually comparable in many areas to scores in our other W.R. elementary schools. Depending on the grade level and the subject, there are schools with both higher and lower overall scores than the scores of SOD students. Students at all of our elementary schools are experiencing success on the WASL. The community of collaboration in the district promotes greater uniformity amongst schools with the goal of success for all students.

In conclusion, closing School of Discovery would be a great loss. Clearly, it is a beloved school. However, should the SOD staff be integrated into our other schools, they would continue to work as a part of the larger team of WRSD professionals of which they are already a part. The staff and PTA of each existing school would welcome with open arms the dedicated parents of the SOD students. And, finally, the SOD children would be loved and cared for by dedicated teachers who, like their current teachers, are eager to help all children become lifelong learners who hold positive memories of their elementary school experience.

Becky Hathaway

White River math/instructional coach

All impacted by decision

on schools

There have been many rumors circulating about the upcoming White River School District budget cuts. The most discussed and rumored about have been the closure of Wickersham School of Discovery and the relocation of Collins Alternative School to the Wickersham campus.

First I would like to thank Mr. Lockyer (W.R. superintendent) and Denise Vogel (W.R. school board president) for attending the WSOD meeting specifically called to address our concerns. To a packed room Mr. Lockyer delivered his canned budget speech. Despite the heartfelt testimonies of parents, staff, previous students and concerned community members he didn’t address the issue at hand, the closing of WSOD. He refused. He chastised us like children, stating that “he wouldn’t choose one school over the other.” I raised my hand to state that this wasn’t what we were asking for, we only wanted to bring light to what Wickersham is; needless to say he didn’t acknowledge me. This was a disappointing statement made by the one person who truly needed to understand our school. He turned WSOD’s pride at being a truly exceptional learning community/family into an issue of vanity. He didn’t address the ideas presented for keeping WSOD open; one can only assume that he didn’t value our ideas for any amount of consideration. Furthermore, he went on to say that (as far as curriculum) that the “other WR schools were getting there.” I have to say that WSOD is “there.”

We know that Mr. Lockyer has been less than forthcoming with the facts and this has made the rumor mill flourish. We as parents, taxpayers and citizens of Buckley (every student will be affected by his decisions/recommendations) have the right to know what is happening. On Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. at Glacier Middle School Mr. Lockyear is making his official budget recommendations to the school board. This is public meeting and although it has been made clear that we won’t have the opportunity to ask questions or comment on his recommendations I believe that we should all hear for ourselves what he has to say; with the facts we can move forward as a community to protect all of our schools.

Stephanie O’Mary

Bonney Lake

I am a homeschooler who rather reluctantly made a decision to enroll my youngest child in kindergarten at a public school. My plan after her kindergarten year was to homeschool her as I do her older brother. I chose Wickersham School of Discovery, which bills itself as a “choice” school, and held my breath.

Initially, I didn’t give too much thought to budget cuts and the possible closure of WSOD. My plans were set and I looked forward to homeschooling both children next year. However, I reluctantly but honestly admit to a change of heart since seeing the excitement on my daughter’s face as she tells me about her day in Mrs. Jewell’s kindergarten class.

This is a tough one. My convictions vs. my daughter’s happiness in a (gasp!) school setting. Don’t get me wrong. I will never be a willing convert to an institutional type of schooling. But I see a bright spot in WSOD that sparks some lingering public school optimism. Perhaps this school is just different enough, an alternative to homeschooling that I wasn’t looking for…but may be willing to consider.

A defining example: WSOD requests that I volunteer, welcomes me, encourages me to volunteer. Their willingness to allow me to be involved and the level of that involvement sets them apart from the other elementary schools in the district.

Previous to WSOD, my parental involvement was limited to a few token tasks on the periphery of the classroom environment. Here, parents are allowed much more of a hands-on working relationship in the classroom, the lunchroom, the art room, the playground. That’s what I was missing in my son’s public school education and that’s what has made a difference in my attitude toward my daughter’s public school education.

Me – willing to give public education another shot because WSOD is not afraid to open their school, their classrooms to parents. I’ve seen firsthand as they interact with my child and maybe yours, too. I like what I see. Enriching and nurturing my child are as important to me as their education and all are an integral part of this school. WSOD encourages parents to partner with them in the education of their children. Wow, what a concept. And parents are waiting in line to experience this same opportunity for their own children. I’m not aware of waiting lines at the other White River School District elementary schools.

Are the decision-makers listening? This is the school that has dared to step away from its cookie-cutter public school counterparts resulting in higher WASL scores and a waiting list for enrollment. This is the elementary school set for closure?

Mr. Superintendent, Mrs. Deputy Superintendent and Mrs. Secretary to the Superintendent: Give me WSOD or mail me two “Intent to Homeschool” forms, please.

Jennifer Breault

Buckley

As residents in this state and country we are all very aware of the financial issues faced by all including the state government and the public education system.

My two youngest children currently attend Wickersham Elementary in the White River School District. Our school district, like many, is facing really tough decisions in order to balance the budget. I do want our district to be fiscally responsible and as a business owner and homeowner I know that fiscal responsibility is imperative.

As a parent with two young children still in school I am gravely concerned that our school district is considering closure of the best elementary school I have ever known of. I have a total of three children who are each very diverse from one another.

My oldest just turned 18 this summer and is currently attending Edmonds Community College. She has always been an exceptionally bright and social kid. She has a late summer birthday and began a full-time kindergarten program just after her fifth birthday. Even though it was great for her academically she was not challenged to her full potential and as a result she ended up unfocused and disruptive to others. These types of situations have followed her each year of school. I strongly believe had she been taught to work independently and at a pace that was challenging she would have been less disruptive to others, felt better about herself and could have developed better study and work habits at a younger age that would then translate to better success in all areas of her life.

My second child is 10 years old and currently attends Wickersham Elementary. Since she was very little she has loved books and animals. She has been a very shy kid. Wickersham is her third school. She started with kindergarten at Foothills Elementary. We moved within the district and tried to keep her there on waiver to stay with her friends. Our waiver was denied with only the weekend to prepare her for such a big change. Her second school for third grade was at Wilkeson Elementary; she had a very nice teacher in a very traditional setting. She does very well in all areas academically, but has not wanted anyone to notice. As a result she wouldn’t speak up ask questions or share her thoughts. During the two-plus years now at Wickersham she has been taught and allowed to work at a pace that challenges her and as a result works well independently and has developed confidence in her interests and abilities and is very willing to demonstrate and share her abilities with those around her. She is excited to learn different and challenging things and is asking questions that she then takes the initiative to try and answer. I believe she would not be developing near where she is without the awesome opportunity and nurturing environment we found at Wickersham.

My youngest is 8 years old and to the outsider he appears to be an unfocused busy boy. Once you get to know him a bit you start to see that he is a very sensitive and self-conscious young guy. He is very smart but doesn’t learn well in a traditional setting. He began with kindergarten at Wilkeson Elementary. It was a miserable experience and in kindergarten he hated going to school. He seldom would even take off his coat, he wouldn’t even share with his teacher the things he knew and did at home regularly. Things like this were really difficult for our family as they were 100 percent opposite of his experience in preschool. We were ready to homeschool the younger kids when a friend who is a teacher spoke so highly of the educational opportunities at Wickersham Elementary. We decided to give public education one more try. I am glad to say that our decision was successful. At Wickersham my son receives nurturing, understanding and acceptance from his teachers and the students alike. He is still a bit self-conscious but only a small fraction of what it was. He has the opportunity to feel accomplished by working at a progressive individual level where he gains knowledge and confidence.

The style of education provide at Wickersham works. I believe it works for all kids and all learning styles. The program that Wickersham offers should be a model for success in all public schools. Wickersham and its volunteers do more with less than any school I have ever known and the test results show the difference community and caring can make for the future of all our children.

Darcy Morris

Buckley

If what we are being told about the financial crisis at the White River School District is true, can someone tell me why the lights on the White River High School football field automatically come on every night – 365 days a year? Could a teacher’s job or maybe even Wickersham School of Discovery be saved if they were only turned on when needed ?

Sheli O’Connor

Concerned White River School District parent

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SPLC accurately labels hate organizations and people

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