Letters to the Editor

Letters from June 24

Election 2006

A horrific measure

In his letter (“Just Say Yes to I-933”, CK Reporter, June 17), Dan Jenniges asserts that “property owners and developers are not evil and have no desire to destroy the environment.” I don’t entirely disagree with that point. I think most landowners and many developers honestly do think that they care for the environment. But when faced with the difficult choice between our own economic gain or the health of the environment that we all share, most of us will protect our wallets first.

Taken individually, these insults to the environment are probably not that serious. An encroachment on habitat here, a subdivision there, probably isn’t that much of a big deal. Nature responds and adapts ... to a point.

Taken collectively, these little injuries are a disaster. Only 40 miles away from us in Port Townsend, they struggle to supply water during the dry summer months. Last year, farmers in eastern Washington struggled to find water for their crops. It doesn’t take too much thought to realize that we simply don’t have the natural resources to support unfettered growth in our own county, much less statewide.

Reasonable people may differ on exactly what environmental protections are required. I-933 destroys the ability to even have that conversation. It is carefully designed to permit us to build, build, build, until we collectively destroy the peace, quiet, scenery and wildlife that make Kitsap County a beautiful place for both humans and animals to live.

That, in my view, is a horrific taking.



WASL ... Where is

the common sense?

On June 8, 2006, state Superintendent Terry Bergeson released preliminary “Class of 2008” Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) scores. Congratulations to our local school districts that saw some encouraging results from their WASL scores. Unfortunately, that does not change the fact that the WASL and our state’s educational system is failing our students and their families.

OSPI (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) has repeatedly claimed that there would be a 20 percent “motivation bump” (the idea being that students would take the test more seriously if it was tied to graduation). Sadly, no such miracle has materialized.

The Washington Education Association has projected that approximately 40,000 “Class of 2008” students are now in jeopardy of not receiving their high school diploma. This seems to have taken Ms. Bergeson by surprise. At a recent press conference, Ms. Bergeson admitted, “we have underfunded K-12 education for a long time.” She also said she lacked a solution, especially in math, “I don’t have any brilliant schemes today, but I know we have a challenge.”

The students did not fail the WASL, the WASL and the state’s system failed the students. There is definitely something wrong with the system when 50 percent of the students across the state are not deemed “proficient” enough to graduate from high school — that is an average of one out of every two students in 430 high schools across the state. Does this make any sense at all?

Washington state has not invested in its students; instead, an unfair and unjust testing system has been imposed on our public schools. The WASL provides no diagnostic information about a student’s strengths or weaknesses, which make it nearly useless as a tool for improving individual student achievement.

Students who have failed the WASL will be notified in mid-June that they will have to attend “WASL summer school.” OSPI cannot even provide accurate statewide WASL statistics at this time. Results of the WASL will not be available until the fall, after the summer remediation programs and August WASL retakes. Where is the common sense?

The Washington Education Association (WEA) will continue to advocate locally and at the state level for commonsense improvements in student assessment and how the WASL is used.

Instead of informing parents that their kids might not get a diploma, OSPI should apologize for holding students accountable when the state system is appallingly flawed.

Susan Leavell

WEA Olympic Council president


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