I was disappointed to see that two of your front-page stories on Friday were on the subject of high school students not graduating. The tone of both stories seemed to be sympathetic to the students, and implied that the schools should have allowed these students to participate in graduation exercises.
With the increasing call for higher standards for graduation, using front-page space to sympathize with students who did not meet the requirements for graduation was an odd choice. Should we let anyone who feels left out graduate? Why have any standards at all?
If Collin Murphy had time for a part time job and time to play baseball, he could have made time for his schoolwork if graduating with his class was important enough to him. He should probably be apologizing to his grandmother instead of looking for public sympathy.
If Mark Klinefelter did not pass the reading portion of the WASL, he needs to continue to work on his reading skills until he has reached the standard required by our state school system. I have great admiration for anyone learning a foreign language, but if students who don't speak English as their first language are held to a lower standard, we are doing them a disservice. What about students who struggle with dyslexia or other learning disabilities? Should the requirements be lowered for them, or do they just have to work harder than other students do? Life may not be fair, but making the requirements for graduation apply to everyone equally is.
Instead of celebrating excellence and accomplishment, The Herald seems to be making excuses for substandard performance.
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There was an interesting piece on KUOW the other morning decrying the need for workers in the building trades: plumbers, electricians, carpenters, operating engineers, etc. Seems that the public schools are gearing themselves to producing primarily college bound students and forgetting that we'll need someone to install the toilet. Shop and vocational classes have all but disappeared in many schools. We're spending a lot of time teaching to the WASL but not to life skills beyond it.
Example: utility departments and private utility companies are now in a bidding war for the services of electrical line workers. They can't find enough locally, so they have to recruit across the country (read: spend extra dollars to find employees). These are jobs that can pay in excess of $100K with little or no overtime (remember, starting teacher pay in Washington is in the $35K range), but, of course, when the storm hits and the lights go out, they make a lot more than that. Seattle City Light reports several workers made in excess of $200K last year. KUOW interviewed a couple of people in a union training program; one of them was a former teacher.
Amen to the trades! There are some schools in Edmonds that have great vocational programs. Unfortunately the push to make all college ready by taking tons of meaningless coursework is the fad du Jour. The result is crisis-level drop out rates and a short-changing of the vocational programs we do have. Wouldn't it be amazing to have a rich, diverse and system-wide vocational program to connect the kids who aren't staying in our schools physically or mentally?
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