Letters to the Editor

What is education? Here's an answer | Letters

In a letter titled “Right education, wrong education” (June 25), Mr. Frank Comito raises an interesting question: What is education? Since I am one of the people who write about education, I thought I would answer the question.

The constitution of the state of Washington requires the state to provide a basic education to all citizens. Given that, you might think that Olympia would have a definition for a basic education. But no.

So what Olympia did instead was to identify the “goals” of a basic education. This can be found in RCW 28A.150.210. I got it off the Internet:

Basic education act — Goal. (Effective until September 1, 2011.)

The goal of the basic education act for the schools of the state of Washington set forth in this chapter shall be to provide students with the opportunity to become responsible and respectful global citizens, to contribute to their economic well-being and that of their families and communities, to explore and understand different perspectives, and to enjoy productive and satisfying lives. Additionally, the state of Washington intends to provide for a public school system that is able to evolve and adapt in order to better focus on strengthening the educational achievement of all students, which includes high expectations for all students and gives all students the opportunity to achieve personal and academic success. To these ends, the goals of each school district, with the involvement of parents and community members, shall be to provide opportunities for every student to develop the knowledge and skills essential to:

1. Read with comprehension, write effectively, and communicate successfully in a variety of ways and settings and with a variety of audiences;

2. Know and apply the core concepts and principles of mathematics; social, physical, and life sciences; civics and history, including different cultures and participation in representative government; geography; arts; and health and fitness;

3. Think analytically, logically, and creatively, and to integrate different experiences and knowledge to form reasoned judgments and solve problems; and

4. Understand the importance of work and finance and how performance, effort, and decisions directly affect future career and educational opportunities.

From here, Olympia leaves it up to the school districts to decide what specific courses should be taken to meet this goal. The public, if it cared, could do this through local school boards.

Washington state has two budgets: the capital budget used to build roads and bridges, etc., and the operating budget that funds, among other things, education. They approve the capital budget first. This guarantees projects for labor union workers who support the Democratic party with votes and contributions.

Then they use what money is left over for the operating budget. This is why we are having cuts in education right now.

Some argue that education should be funded first, since the state has a constitutional mandate to provide everyone with a basic education. Then, use what money is left for the other things. This would require much public pressure.

I hope this answers your question.

Bill Pirkle, Federal Way

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