On the issue of education | Letter

I’m a student of education, learning to teach in a top school, with a top-notch teacher and a solid, supportive administration. An early lesson is that what you think you know about education is myth.

Unless you are studying education, it is unlikely that you have gained a solid understanding of how education is delivered; not through your individual experience, through media reporting or from your legislators. Education is used by politicians as a football, in a game where consequences for children are considered last.

The recent Betsy DeVos visit provides a few examples: Our secretary of education supports the ideology of competition as a means to improve education, ignoring the causes of poor performance that are endemic to both public and charter schools. Evidence supports her assertion that individualized education can benefit students, but that’s not what differentiates public and charter systems. DeVos speaks of states having best answers, because they are nearer to the problems, but Washington provides no evidence of a competent legislative approach to education optimization.

New Mexico is only the latest state to consider whether their children should be sent to compete in the world market with one eye blinded by an education that replaces science with crackpot religion. It’s hard to pick between federal and state governments to see which has a lock on uninformed solutions and picking one based on ideology suggests there’s no evidence to support the distinction.

At DeVos’ presentation, King County Council member Kathy Lambert wanted to hear how a wealthy ideologue would design an education system. Our region abounds with world-class experts at our universities and in our government agencies. If we’re espousing the virtues of local over distant wisdom, Lambert might do well to turn to our experts for evidence-based answers.

Meanwhile, Washington’s attorney general, King County’s executive, Bellevue’s mayor and a small crowd, provided comments and chanted rhymes, which did nothing for the state’s students. Washington under performs the country and the country is no world leader in K-12 education. Meanwhile, well-researched, schools-tested opportunities remain untapped. There’s plenty to harangue our legislatures on to improve our education system; perhaps the energy on display will trickle down to action on education. I’m holding my breath.

Last note: The state senatorial candidate who expressed the bromide that “a fully funded public education system is the foundation of our democracy” appears to be ignorant of the history of public schools in America, but is also near-blind to the decrepitude of democracy in America. Legislators and citizens are the foundation of our lost democracy. Accepting influence purchasing as a system, accepting voter suppression as a tactic and accepting gerrymandering as a party spoils the system. Legislate against those glaringly obvious problems first. Until then, you are educating voters whose votes don’t count.

Bob Wilcox,


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