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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words

September 16, 2012 at 9:00 AM

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Education analysis and reform in Washington

Special education needs to be discussed, too

I applaud The Seattle Times’ campaign to expand Washington state’s vision for public education and hope that the effort includes in-depth coverage of special education. [“A new vision for education,” Opinion, Sept. 9.]

Washington state visionaries (mostly moms) spearheaded legislative efforts 40 years ago that resulted in state and federal laws opening the doors of public schools to children with disabilities. Today’s challenge is to ensure that those same children have access to the same curriculum as their non-disabled peers, highly qualified teachers and opportunities to excel.

Sadly, the editorials in the Sept. 9 edition’s “extensive, two-page opinion package” made no mention of special education. Children with disabilities are hardly ever factored into discussions of the achievement gap, higher education or quality instruction. The dominant culture harbors extremely low expectations of children with disabilities.

Let’s get a serious conversation started about special-education services and how to give our children with disabilities equal access to quality public education. Early intervention is key, sustained high-quality support and access to general education classrooms is essential and substantive transition programs that challenge these students will help them become contributing members of our community to the best of their ability.

Much lip service is given in these areas, but little is actually done.

— Janet Anderson, Seattle

All children need a quality education

The Seattle Times’ editorial page has helped increased our understanding of education policy and funding. As a volunteer at a local elementary school, I enjoyed seeing eager students and hopeful parents arrive on the first day of school.

Unfortunately, many communities around the world do not have schools and resources to educate their children. The United Nations reports that 61 million children of primary-school age are out of school. The World Bank is one of the most important sources of educational funding for poor countries. Like many in our state who are calling on the Legislature to provide necessary resources to educate our children, the World Bank needs to step up to its 2010 pledge to increase its basic education assistance by $750 million by 2015. Let’s work to see that all children have access to a quality education.

— Linwood Carlson, Seattle

Raise senior exemption

I am very much in support of improving our state’s education system, but as a senior, I must say it is nearly impossible for me to pay school levies that mostly school teachers and others with incomes at least two to three times my income vote on every few years.

Our legislators refuse to raise the senior exemption amount above $35,000 annually, and on my income of $36,000, most of which goes to pay my housing costs, I’m no longer able to continue to pay these levies; yet, if I don’t, and I get behind on my mortgage and/or property payments, I could lose my home.

— Saundra J. Raynor, Olympia

Don’t hold children back

Funding schools is crucial, but so are the programs these funds pay for. For at least the past 25 years, and I think more, we have championed early-learning programs. During this time, more than two generations of students have gone through our education system.

But we have yet to follow up on these early-learning opportunities with a beefed up K-3 program. The academic skills of alphabet, numbers and even reading are usually repeated in these early grades. It’s time to follow up on these early-learning programs with better, and often differentiated, instruction in the early grades to keep kids motivated to learn.

In addition, somehow, some districts and schools have been moving toward a lock-step curriculum for all kids, keeping all kids on the same page of the same lesson of the same grade across every school. This is ludicrous! Kids do not learn at the same rate; they are not kept at the same age, stage and level for swimming, tennis, dance, gymnastics, skiing, etc. If this were so, we would have no Olympic athletes. But we are so reluctant to individualize instruction and meet all students’ academic needs and abilities.

Somewhere in our schools are the students who will win a gold medal for finding the cure for cancer and solving the many issues that beg for solutions. Please don’t hold them back!

— Bobbie May, Redmond

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