Opinion

It is not the school’s job to raise your child

By Walter Backstrom, No Excuses

I felt it was important for this black father. To set the record straight, if my daughter lived with me, I would not need to spend two hours on the bus to help her (pretty obvious unless you are an elitist).

I will quote a principal at my daughter’s school: “I have not in 30 years seen a father black or white show the commitment that you have. I appreciate, and you are to be commended for, your dedication to your daughter. A great role model to other fathers.”

Get rid of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). I have been working with my daughter on this silly test called the WASL. For the last 20 years under Democratic governors, they all say they are going to be the “education governor,” but nothing gets done. They have delayed the math part of the WASL because 50 percent of teenagers failed it.

In an act of political cowardice, they have delayed the WASL for five years while we waste millions of your hard-earned dollars on experts who are still working on it — and these kids cannot multiply in middle school.

They let third-graders use calculators, so they call that improvement. I liken it to taking an open book test, but not passing it. I do not call that progress by any stretch of the imagination. However, they really are devoted to your child’s education. Raise your hand if you believe that.

If a parent is struggling with helping a child with homework, how are they going to help children with the WASL? Stop this WASL testing immediately and quit paying these so-called experts millions of dollars to develop a test that is useless. No other country in the world, that includes the poor countries, would force their children to take this test. Good for them! Could that be because they are ahead of us in math and science? On international tests, we rank 15th. That should tell you something right there. There are states that do much better than we do. I wonder why? The poor teachers, they are being pulled one way, then another way, which means they are not able to develop competency in any one way of doing things because of what is the latest fab this time. They have to be frustrated because it is always something new!

Since last year, I actually have had a great deal of sympathy, but I have no sympathy for these spineless politicians who profess to love these children and talk about how important education is — but they have yet to show it. Instead of letting third-graders (some of whom do not know their multiplication tables) use calculators, teach them the “old-fashioned way” by rote memory. That way, they will know it forever. We do need a change in Olympia. I do not believe that we can afford neither a 50 percent dropout rate nor a 66 percent dropout rate among children of color. These numbers are one of the many reasons minority communities are devastated. I realize it is unpopular to be “old school” where the dropout rate was not nearly as high. Believe in duty, honor, God, practice and discipline. Look at what has happened when the inmates run the asylum. You decide if you are happy with your children’s education as they compete with the rest of the world.

It is not the school’s job to raise your child and instill in them decent values — it is your job. How are you doing?

Walter Backstrom is a Federal Way resident: wkbackstrom@aol.com.

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