Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Public education versus charter schools
A plea for fair-mindedness
I am astonished that The Times can give columns and press to David Brook’s bash against public education [“Time to change the cookie-cutter approach to school,” Opinion, July 9] and its erroneous observation of a cookie-cutter approach to serve a certain sort of student — one who is “nurturing, collaborative, disciplined, neat, studious, industrious and ambitious,” within an overarching, culturally “ideal” and “cohesive” ethos. It is part of the ongoing lie that our public schools are failing in order to justify charter schools and the privatization of public schools with taxpayer dollars.
As a Seattle School District schoolteacher and a member of the SEA Board, your reading public can be rest assured that my colleagues — support personnel, administrators, central-office staff and teaching colleagues — consider the whole child and often agonize how we can serve all our Henrys and Henriettas within caring environments. Schools such as Interagency and The Center School, and inclusion paradigms for our bilingual and special-education programs accentuate the importance of the individual in vision and mission.
Ongoing district-professional development focalize on inclusion programs and strategies that cater to individual needs in all classrooms and educating “the whole child” is part of every teacher-certification program in the state and in every teacher’s ethics.
This does not mean that the corporate state will fail in its efforts to privatize. As it purposely underfunds public education in overcrowded classrooms as evidenced by the lack of an adequate revenue stream, (it is not uncommon for some secondary-school classes to start off the school year with student teachers ratios of 42 to one, or of counselor-student ratios of 1,000 to one), individualizing instruction becomes more difficult.
Thus, this piece is a plea for fair-mindedness. Stop minimizing what educators do in public schools — public schools that educated the majority of us very well. Rather maximize the importance of funding our public-schools’ human potential that is presently underfunded.
It is a fundamental Washington-state constitutional right and a governance obligation that Brooks and The Seattle Times Editorial Board and I can only guess — conservative corporate advertisers — don’t get.
— Jeffrey Morgen, Ph.D., Issaquah