In response to the Nov. 3 and 17
Mr. Kantman has made some outrageous and unsubstantiated
assertions about public schools (he doesn't see fit to make it clear if he
means all public schools or the schools in our community). To summarize, his
claims are that schools are failing to educate students, money will not help
the situation, teachers are overpaid and he feels personally cheated.
It's easy to repeat the big lies, because they are heard so
many times that no one bothers to check them anymore.
Public schools failing? Not by any objective, rational
standard. There is no more ambitious attempt to ensure democracy anywhere in
the world than in the United States public school system. We take everyone, we
give them the best education regardless of their ability to pay for it, and our
students are measurably better across the board than students of other
countries. Without going into the intricacies of statistics, I will assert that
the top 10 percent of our students are as academically able as any other
students, while the majority of students in our schools who would be forced to
drop out in many other countries and never have the chance at higher education,
become successful graduates here who add greatly to our quality of life.
To sum up my point, American public schools educate more
people to a higher degree than any schools anywhere else in the world.
Furthermore, Sunnyside graduates do just as well as any other graduates,
attending prestigious schools such as Whitman, Stanford, the University of
Southern California, Johns Hopkins, WSU, UW, etc.
As far as money goes, the research is clear: smaller class
sizes combined with highly qualified teachers will increase success for all
students. If you want better schools than you already have, you need to invest
in them—infrastructure, personnel, technology and materials. Yet, you
personally insist we do more with less. Unless you can find some way to make
the day run 36 hours instead of 24, you are not going to be able to squeeze
much more from us. We meet in committees, coach sports, organize carnivals,
attend concerts and plays, chaperone field trips, advise clubs and activities,
assess papers, invent lessons...the list can go on and on. You probably aren't
getting what you pay for—you're getting much more.
While it is true that by comparison in our community,
Sunnyside teachers are fairly well paid, it must be remembered that first, we
live in an economically depressed area, and second, the salary schedule is a
state-wide scale, not based on the economy of the Yakima Valley. Furthermore,
while the school day might run seven and a half hours, we aren't paid by the
hour, we're paid for a 182-day contract. I won't insult the intelligence of
readers who know the number of hours and days that salaried employees put in
beyond their contracted time, but I will enlighten them to some facts they may
not be familiar with.
The state has mandated higher educational requirements for
newly graduated teachers. At a time when they are trying to get their careers
started, often by relocating, the bills begin to come due for student loans.
Yet now these young teachers are also expected to return to college right away
with a pittance as reimbursement for enrolling in graduate courses. These are
things that most other professions pay for, but not teaching. We are losing too
many promising young educators within the first five years because they cannot
afford to be teachers.
And those who stay with the profession, soon lose any
extrinsic incentive to continue their education at the bottom of the salary
scale. These are experienced and wise teachers who make a huge difference to
students and younger teachers every day. But they too can feel ill-used and
poorly compensated, especially when their incomes in terms of real buying power
continue to fall behind the rising cost of living with no adjustments in sight
(in spite of the overwhelming approval of cost of living increases for teachers
at the polls).
Finally, as to your personal feelings that schools are
cheating you out of something, maybe it's time you thought about what might be
good for our society instead of only what is good for you. The most undervalued
teacher in the world is still worth more than a caustic columnist grinding his
As you claim, you are entitled to your opinion. However, as
a journalist and the host of a regularly appearing column, you have a greater
responsibility and higher obligation to base those opinions on facts, not
/s/ Dan Thomas, Co-president, Sunnyside Education
Association, Rebecca Krona, Julie Perez, Sindy Maxwell, Peg Riggers-Collins,
Ona Kassebaum, Scott Waywell, Gail Dodd, Edalina M. Diaz, Cynthia Kelley, Donna
de Graaf, Sue Downing, David D. Downing, Judith Carrick, Judy Bennett, Andrea
L. Diaz (SEA Representative Council members)
Unhappy with cable provider
Recently, we received a notice from Charter cable that our
programming and charges would be changing. We could opt to stay with basic
cable (which has very little to offer that you couldn't get with an antenna) or
switch to expanded basic. We decided we would try the expanded basic at almost
double the cost of the former basic.
Fox Sports Northwest had been advertising they would be the
station for Seattle Supersonic basketball, and they are. It is advertised in
the newspapers and on the on-screen TV guide, but it's not. At least not for
After a couple of phone calls, I was told that Charter had
been talking with the Sonics about carrying the games but that the Sonics
wanted too much money and Charter was trying to keep the cost of cable down.
The woman I spoke with said we wouldn't be seeing the Sonics on Fox Sports
Northwest with Charter.
In a recent Tri-City Herald edition, Jeff Morrow talked
about the problem in his column. Jeff said that Hispanavision (channel 17 in
Sunnyside) carries the Sonics games because they have the broadcasting rights
in this area. Jeff also said that Ron Bevins, general manager of Hispanavision,
has met with the manager of the local cable system concerning this issue and
the Sonics games may be available on the regular cable channel within a few
To top it all off, when we got our cable bill, we were
charged $23.95 for switching from basic to expanded basic and there was a
notice that cable would be removing channel 32 (Fit TV) from the line-up. Makes
us wonder how many more channels they will remove without changing the price.
/s/ Janita Wutzke, Sunnyside