Letters to the Editor

Support/concerns for school board candidate Pirkle | Two letters to the editor

Support for Bill Pirkle

I appreciate the people who run for office. And the ones who have run, won, and work in their positions. Thank you!

Our family has had three students graduate from Federal Way schools. Each with her own strengths, weaknesses and individual talents.

There is no question that you can get a good education in our schools.

The common denominator is that the student has to take their opportunity seriously. And the parents must be serious too — about the opportunity.

None of this talk of seriousness has to mean sour or dreary. It is exactly the opposite.

The serious pursuit of knowledge leads to the joyful pursuit of happiness.

We must guard our children from learned helplessness.

Expecting excellence, noticing their work, cheering their effort — these things lead to growth and achievement.

The opposite is true too. Remember: "Education is not a spectator sport."

You know that our kids are smart. They watch us. If no one is calling for climbing, why not slide?

So, for heaven’s sake what’s my point?

My point is that growth and success often come from the most challenging and even uncomfortable situations.

This truth goes for students, parents, teachers, the public, and yes, even our Federal Way School Board.

We need a person on the Federal Way School Board who is not reluctant to bring up topics for debate that will ignite both passion and objective clarity.

There is nothing more American than spirited debate and sorting out the issues to achieve common sense solutions.

It is not divisive. It is demanded by today's parents who seek to better their children's future. Money is not the panacea.

We cannot allow any student to slide through our schools without being challenged to dream big.

Not a sleeping kind of dream, but a sleeves rolled up, eyes wide open, work hard today, because the future is real kind of “dream big.”

The person that I have come to know as the ultimate in “reality check” thinking is school board candidate Bill Pirkle.

We have no time to spend patting ourselves on the back for doing a fine job for some of our students…when we are losing so many others to malignant apathy.

We need someone on the school board who will speak boldly and question without fear.

America needs every one of our precious individual students.

So my point is: Vote to elect Bill Pirkle. No excuses.

Maureen Bernardy, Federal Way

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Concerns about Bill Pirkle

I have significant concerns about Bill Pirkle’s statements about his experience and qualifications for serving on the school board. Mr. Pirkle’s campaign Web site claims that “most importantly” he was a substitute teacher in Federal Way for 3-plus years, so he has “been there and… seen what is going on.”

But his own previous writings raise serious questions about the actual nature of his “experience,” as well as his candidness. In his online “virtual book” titled “While America Partied,” Mr. Pirkle writes that he has never been a substitute teacher (which he defines as “certified teachers who do not want to teach full time”). Instead, he was an “emergency substitute,” which he carefully distinguishes from substitute teachers because teachers are “Kool-aid drinkers” that have been “indoctrinated.” Does denigrating teachers make him a good fit for the school board?

More worrisome are questions about what Mr. Pirkle may have learned from his classroom experience. He writes about solving discipline problems by humiliating students with his “quit wit.” He started “nailing them,” pointing to one student who was acting up in class and stating “class, this is what happens if the mother smokes when she is pregnant.” He writes “the class roared and the kid, humiliated, sat down and shut up.” In another incident, Mr. Pirkle states that he got an entire class to laugh at a student and made him “shut up” by asking the class, “does he speak English?” He also chooses to address the issue of childhood obesity by stating “the most alarming thing about today’s schools is the fat child epidemic.”

Mr. Pirkle’s campaign Web site neglects to mention that (according to his self-authored “How to Improve Schools in Federal Way — Observations of an Emergency Substitute Teacher") he was “reported twice the district office and thus stopped from teaching at two schools.” During the first incident, Mr. Pirkle admits he lost his temper while teaching a class and used profanity. With respect to the second incident (and despite the fact that the incident was reported by a teacher, and by the principal to the district), Mr. Pirkle claims that to “this day I don’t know what I did that was so wrong, but I do know that I can’t teach anymore at Twin Lakes Elementary School.”

Inexplicably, in this very same document, Mr. Pirkle states that a “few things that the teacher can't do is embarrass the student, humiliate the student, touch the student, and/or yell at the student, regardless of the student's disruptive behavior.” Given that Mr. Pirkle now seeks a seat on the school board, perhaps Mr. Pirkle should answer the question of how he can square this statement with his own “quick witted” humiliations of students, including those that led to disciplinary action. Further, if Mr. Pirkle truly does not know why he is not permitted to teach, he should find out, and share the answer with Federal Way parents, teachers and students.

I acknowledge the time and energy Mr. Pirkle has devoted to students. I respect his right to express his opinions, no matter how divisive or unsupported by logic, research or data. However, he is no longer a private citizen providing a fringe point of view, but a candidate for a public office. If elected, his views will shape the educational environment in which our students will learn. I hope that Mr. Pirkle will choose to address the questions about his actual experience, his treatment of students in the classroom, and why he was removed from classroom teaching in our district.

Steve Edmiston, Federal Way

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