Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Connect school funding to academic improvement
Successful education cannot be linked solely to testing
Oh Sen. Steve Litzow, can I tell you some of the improvements I have witnessed in my special-education classroom this week [“Tie school funding to improvement,” Opinion, Feb. 8]?
An autistic student, never much for arts and crafts, opted to make a valentine for his mom rather than play on the computer and wrote his sentiment neatly and legibly. A kindergarten student had a dry diaper and used the toilet independently. A developmentally delayed student scored higher on a reading test than a few non-disabled peers. An autistic student answered reading-comprehension questions based on prior knowledge. An autistic kindergartner independently wrote several detailed sentences with minimal errors.
All of my special-ed students are in the general-ed classroom for at least half of the day, making friends by building understanding and acceptance.
Will these kids graduate from high school? Maybe not. Does that mean they deserve any less funding or support? Improvement cannot be measured solely by a standardized test. It won’t be easy to dismiss preconceived notions about what constitutes successful education — starting with yours.
--Martha de Carbonel Patterson, Silverdale
Funding and student learning is not so simple
It is true, as stated by state Sen. Steve Litzow, that “a student’s ZIP code and family’s economic situation shouldn’t decide his or her chance at academic and life success.” But doesn’t the fact that those factors do have a great deal of influence tell us that there are conditions in family and society that affect student learning, and therefore more investment is needed to help students achieve beyond what those factors might indicate as the student’s potential?
In Finland 30 years ago, a great effort was made to achieve equality of opportunity for all students. Programs were instituted to achieve a society where children did not come to school hungry, where every family had shelter and assistance for their children during the child’s first few years of life. Finland also delays academics until students are 7 years old. Seeking equality of opportunity, Finland achieved excellence. It managed to do this while only once giving a required test for all students before high-school graduation.
The McCleary decision is clear: There is a need for more funding. The connection between funding and student learning is not as tidy as Litzow would have us believe.
--Mary Wallon, Seattle