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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 letters@seattletimes.com.

September 16, 2012 at 2:00 PM

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Washington state's education system

Illegitimate children affecting educational performance

The Sept. 9 edition of The Times has (count ’em) seven columns and editorials on education reform. Much of the discussion is about the disparity between educational achievement of children from higher-income families and those from lower-income families. There is lots of discussion of money, government’s responsibility and how we must do better.

What is not mentioned is the impact being an illegitimate child has on educational performance. We have a family crisis in this country, whereas many as 70 percent of the children are born out of wedlock. It is well known that if a person graduates high school, learns a trade, gets a job, gets married, has children and stays married — in that order — the chance of living in poverty is about 2 percent!

It is simply not acceptable for unwed mothers to have children, and our educators and political pundits ought to have the courage to say so. Poor educational performance is but one of the many problems associated with illegitimate births.

— W. Andrew Hesser, Richland

Who pays for expansion?

I read a little bit on The Seattle Times’ education stance, and honestly it sickens me.

If I am reading this right, the editorial board wants the education system to expand even further? The education system is already extremely broke and has children/young adults a good 13-to-17 years of their lives. The Times wants to expand that to 15-to-20 years? This is supposed to fix things? And who pays for this expansion?

Higher education is almost useless at this point because most everyone goes and there aren’t the jobs to be filled.

The American education system needs to stop training us to be noncreative, non-free-thinking “good workers” and pawns in this horrible system. We already have mothers and fathers who work 50 hours a week and barely see/raise their children. Let’s make that worse?

Good job, Seattle Times.

— Jeremiah Lee, Kirkland

Citizens can help, too

I believe citizens should become engaged in the education of our youth by being allowed to see our schools in action and support the educators in their classrooms.

Students and educators should be accountable to the taxpayers. Citizens with abilities to assist in education should be enlisted to participate in the education of our youth if they wish to volunteer their time and meet certain requirements.

I am an associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington in the Division of Nephrology. I have taught medical students, residents and fellows for more than 15 years.

I wrote the Seattle Public Schools superintendent when I moved to Seattle eight years ago to work in a health class to support the educator and share my expertise. I never received a reply.

I then wrote the principal at West Seattle High School, and I worked with one of the teachers for two years. Because of that teacher’s retirement and the turnover of other health-class teachers, I have tried to communicate with the third principal at that school in eight years, but to no avail.

I think the problem is that our schools think they are islands unto themselves — citizens can help them.

— A. Eric Anderson, Seattle

A social problem

The basic problem to be resolved related to public education is social, not economic or political. Public schools cannot be held accountable for the lack of academic success by all children and youth. All the money in the world and a corps of the world’s best teachers could not resolve the fundamental issues causing such lack of success.

The core issue lies within the home. Parents who themselves have had inadequate school attendance or academic performance, parents who do not exercise parental skills related to fundamental educational practices at home and parents who foster physical environments that discourage children/youth from pursuing academic success are the root causes for children being academically unsuccessful.

Those factors are the consequence of economic and political circumstances over which public schools have no control. Schools can partner with social organizations to mitigate the effects of such economic/political circumstances that relate to inadequate academic performance, but they cannot intrude directly upon homes because of parental privacy.

Thus, actual and meaningful improvement in public education lies in creating socially and economically secure home environments that promote academic success. It is to those ends to which public attention needs to be addressed.

— Jim Morgan, Bellevue


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