Opinion

Public education waits for Superman | Firearms Lawyer

Folks that live in cities like Federal Way and Seattle often associate guns with crime. The fact that prisons are full of violent predators seems like proof that fewer guns means less crime — especially when you consider that many violent crimes are committed with guns. It is the poor environment in many neighborhoods, we are told, and lack of public commitment to underprivileged students, along with too many guns that creates the sense of violent desperation.

Up to now, however, there has been almost no mainstream discussion of the inconvenient fact that bad schools are what create the hopeless environments trapping several generations in massive failure. I just attended a showing of “Waiting for Superman.” The documentary, directed by Davis Guggenheim (who directed Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”), will keep you riveted to your seat in anger and sorrow as you realize that the worst criminals are those that perpetuate the colossal educational failures that condemn many of our young to poor educations.

According to Christine Campbell, a research analyst at the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education, Washington is one of the few states with a growing achievement gap. Only one-third of our minority students are meeting standards in math and science. Forty percent of Native Americans and roughly 50 percent of African-American and Hispanic children graduate from high school, and many graduates are not prepared for college. The taxpayers’ money that we spend for an average prison stay could send a student through private grade schools and all the way through an expensive private high school and beyond. Instead of applying the well-proven formula for great schools, however, adults continue to jockey for money and power in an arena that sacrifices children’s lives to political ambitions and turpitude.

According to Campbell, Washington came in 32nd out of 36 states in the Race to the Top competition for hundreds of millions of federal dollars. But don’t expect to see Washington’s educational professionals climbing on the bandwagon to close low-performing schools and offer choices like the KIPP Academies that are showcased in the movie. Remember, everything is about the adults that receive patronage from the system, not about offering low-income students the hope that they can overcome the growing achievement gap.

Washington state law makes KIPP, which runs 82 charter schools, an impossible dream for the kids that desperately need such programs. Federal Way Public Academy has provided an opportunity for a limited number of students to succeed. All students should have the option of getting the best education available without having to win a lottery the way many do now. We can no longer say that we lack knowledge about how to offer good educations to every student, but more money than ever before is poured into educational wastelands that claim untold lives.

If you think this information is about some conservative political agenda, just go see the movie.

Our failed schools send more kids to graduate schools than many of our most successful high schools send to college. The graduates from Walla Walla, Monroe and other institutions of learning hold professional degrees that guarantee these graduates will make names for themselves. Probably not in your world! But these graduates will make their reputations in the world where violent predators respect only their own kind.

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