Letters to the Editor

Disagrees with Dahlquist views on K-12 education

I was disappointed and disturbed by Cathy Dahlquist’s article (Courier-Herald, Nov. 9) on her approach to the education of children in our state. I feel it would deemphasize the importance of education in Washington. It seems to be a lot more about saving a buck than educating a child.

One “solution” she offers is to use “technology-driven learning solutions.” Her desired result – “freeing teachers to help students who need more instruction.” She says technology in the classroom can “bring down costs.” The only way that can be true is if students are assigned a screen instead of a teacher. I have two wonderfully bright, hard-working children in elementary school and I don’t want them in front of a computer screen so that Rep. Dahlquist can save a few bucks. I want my children in the rich, human and interactive environment of an old-fashioned classroom with a real live, flesh-and-blood teacher leading instruction. Their continuing eduction should not be sacrificed or slowed because they meet any standard. They should not be relegated to sit in front of a machine because they are not below a standard. They should continue to be challenged and receive all the benefits of a real live teacher.

Ms. Dahlquist also touts the “solution” of “rewarding” teachers based on student performance. I’ve read more than a few articles indicating that this has not worked in multiple other states where it has been tried and the approach is ultimately abandoned. Maybe teachers aren’t in need of additional motivation. Maybe they are in need of additional support. My fear is that this “solution” is really just an attempt to ultimately pay teachers less and not really a way to improve the education provided to children. We don’t need to demoralize those who work with our kids.

Ms. Dahlquist acknowledges that education is the “paramount duty” of the state of Washington according to our own state constitution, and then immediately tries to wiggle out of actually doing that pesky homework assignment. She writes about using dollars efficiently; what she clearly means is that she’d rather buy a computer than pay a teacher because it’s cheaper in the long run. She points out that the salaries that go to the teachers who work with my children account for a large part of the education budget. That’s right, Cathy. If money to provide educators for our children was not the bulk of the education budget, what would be? To paint a picture that suggests providing a decent salary for educators is a “problem” is the worst kind of spin doctoring. It is worse than that – it is counter to our American values. You don’t get to do your “paramount duty” on the cheap, Cathy. My kids are worth more than that and so are their teachers. Don’t you dare use the current economic times to try and gut an educational system that has already taken more than its fair share of hits. Shame on you. I hope the voters remember this come election time.

Tom McDermott



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