Letters to the Editor

Advice for Mr. Hoff, who wrote levy opposition rant | Letters

At the end of his rant opposing the capital levy to rebuild Federal Way High School, former school board president Charlie Hoff advises voters not to “put the horse before the cart.”

He backs his opposition to the levy with claims that “the current Federal Way High School does not graduate many kids who are either prepared to succeed in college or gain employment in living wage paying jobs. Colleges are ranking the current school poorly and there are no employers who are seeking the school’s graduates.”

He further asserts that “the school district needs to show the voters a specific plan, with an estimate of its costs, before the voters approve any expenditure for the replacement of Federal Way High School.”

Thank you, Mr. Hoff, for your unrelenting passion to defend the citizens of Federal Way while maligning the schools to which they send their children.

As a citizen of Federal Way who has spent 40 years in education, 19 of those years at Federal Way High School, I think I am qualified to offer Mr. Hoff a bit of advice. It is one of the first lessons I teach my high school seniors who take the University of Washington Expository Writing course for 5 credits of freshman English while still in high school: back your claims with reliable data, know your sources, and examine them carefully for bias. Already in the month of October, my seniors utilize these basic rhetorical skills more sufficiently than Charlie Hoff.

Had Hoff done a minimal amount of research he would have found that Federal Way High School grads in the last 10 years include a physics student who is an undergraduate research assistant at MIT; a chemical engineering doctoral student at the University of California, Riverside; a young woman studying aeronautics and engineering at Embry Riddle University; two navy midshipmen, a young woman studying political science at UC Berkeley, and a young man at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis; an Air Force Academy cadet, and a Coast Guard Academy cadet, both from the class of 2012.

Recent grads also include three Gates-Millennium Scholarship recipients: a senior currently studying political science and criminal justice at Gonzaga University, and two sisters, both 2006 grads of FWHS, who earned bachelor’s degrees from UW and Seattle U, as well as master’s degrees from Columbia University and Claremont University. Last year’s graduating class received over $2 million in scholarships from institutions including UCLA, UW, WSU, Gonzaga and Notre Dame, and boasts two recipients from among the 30 regional ACT Six Scholarship candidates.

As for “employment in living wage paying jobs,” recent alumni include a marketing manager for Microsoft, several commissioned officers representing all five branches of the U.S. military, a journalist assigned to legislative issues in Washington D.C., two firefighters, a police officer, an investment banker, two account managers, a youth minister at a local church within walking distance of the high school, three elementary school teachers, a middle school teacher, the assistant women’s basketball coach at Gonzaga University, a teaching assistant at WSU and 12 current staff members at Federal Way High School, seven of whom teach either AVID, AP courses, Cambridge courses or all of the above.

How’s that for living wage paying jobs, Mr. Hoff?

Lastly, in response to Hoff’s insinuation of inefficiency and poor planning on the part of the district, all anyone interested in the district’s “specific plan” needs to do is go on to the FWPS website and click on the 2012 Capital Levy link. The facts speak loudly and clearly about why this levy is the right thing for the citizens of Federal Way. Maybe Charlie Hoff should take some notes.

Pam Ashe, Federal Way


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