Letters Teaching Democracy
August 28, 2008 · Updated 4:37 PM
In response to the recent student protest at Totem Middle School, our staff is looking at ways to improve communication and provide more effective avenues for student voice. I am struck by how clearly this highlights our need to actively embrace what I believe to be one of the primary purposes of our public schools namely, to teach democracy. We do this best not by talking about democracy, but by the creation of democratic cultures marked by policies, structures and practices that naturally transmit democratic values by their very existence.
In describing her work as principal of Central Academy, a progressive public school in Ohio, Dianne Suiter writes:
As educator George Wood has often pointed out, in traditional schools we teach reading by having children read. We teach math by having them do math. But we teach about democracy by having them read about it. We at Central Academy view the task of teaching democracy differently. We ask how we would structure our day to reflect the living of democracy, thereby giving our students a chance to experience and learn it from within, as a part of the way we work together. This kind of intrinsic, gut-level understanding of how to be a member of a community then becomes a habit in both mind and heart.
What would our schools and classrooms (and district) look like if teaching democracy became one of our highest priorities and measures of our success as public educators? I believe rallying around this question is key to addressing the issues of student voice, discipline, achievement and the overall quality of experience that our students have in Marysville schools!
Jim Strickland, Teacher,
Totem Middle School
A multitude of reasons
I am most definitely in support of a new library, for a multitude of reasons. My love for the library began in childhood. I would often find myself there during recess, listening to a Curious George book on tape or playing board games with friends. To me, those are priceless memories.
Also, having no internet access at my residence, I utilized the free Wi-Fi at the library on a very regular basis. Having been (until recently) unemployed for five months, I did the majority of my job-searching on the internet. To this extent, having access to the library's network was invaluable.
In addition, I am an avid reader. I love losing myself in a library's fiction section. Every time I leave, I always walk out with at least two or three exciting new novels, my mind counting down the days until I can start reading them.
I would love to see the Arlington Library expanded. Being a Stanwood resident and often frequenting that branch as well, I have seen the extreme limits of space and material that a small library faces. In addition, I have noticed an increase in the number of school-age kids that need and use its resources. I have seen many of them working on homework, often sharing tables due to lack of space and I can only hope that someday there will be enough space for all of them to be able to work creatively and productively.
Larger library needed
A larger library facility is sorely needed. A recent performance of The Celtic group left many people standing and many not able to view the performance. This area is growing and the schools are enlarging.
Even Granite Falls, which is a much smaller community, has a more spacious facility.
The present facility is many years old and has outlived it use. Also the city needs the space now occupied for a community center.
Please vote Yes.
C. A. Strouss
My Snohomish County Council member John Koster worked hard at his editorial "Base Growth Decisions on Fact Not Hysteria" to try to convince the voters that he is working hard on their behalf and that anyone who disagrees or sees things in a different way are just hysterical. But to me, Mr. Koster's position on allowing for a new city to be built anywhere in our rural Snohomish County is like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand. He's telling folks to trust him, to not worry, that he'll make sure a city won't happen when it comes before him. Clearly this is the same way he has dealt with other issues facing Snohomish County, in particular our mess with roads and traffic.
Mr. Koster obviously doesn't get it that the whole idea of the moratorium was so the public can discuss the issue of Fully Contained Communities rationally without being under the burden of a pending application. To say the public already had their chance when the policies and regulations were adopted during the 10 year comprehensive plan update is really saying that even if things change, we must stay the course. Sound familiar?
Death with dignity
Washington Death With Dignity Initiative 1000 may be on the November 2008 ballot this fall, if supporters collect the required 225,000 signatures before the July deadline. The initiative, sponsored by former Governor Booth Gardner and the Death With Dignity campaign, grants terminally ill patients with less than six months to live the freedom to receive a lethal prescription of barbiturates to end their lives.
Thursday, March 6, the Lynn-wood Knights of Columbus Council No. 5816 sponsored a pro-life night for its members and the community. State Pro-life Director, Jim Toth, spoke on issues of concern, such as abortion and assisted suicide. In regards to I-1000, Toth said, "Washington State is at the epic-center of the assisted suicide debate." The world is watching to see our results. Oregon is the only state where assisted suicide is legal.
KCTS Connects survey question on Feb. 29 asked, should it be legal for patients to receive lethal drugs to end their own life? Respondents overwhelming opposed this barbaric concept by at least 75 percent.
Contact the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide website for further information at www.noassistedsuicide.com.
During the past days when the media was in such a stir about Barak Obama's "race" speech, I happened to re-read Carl Sandburg's chapter on Lincoln at Gettysburg from his well-known multi-volume books on the Great Emancipator.
The stirring words of the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln's brief speech honoring the Civil War casualties of that battle most of us remember from our school days. "Four score and seven years ago" etc. He received a mixed reception at the time the speech was given, much as Obama's has recently. Lincoln's remarks were received with disgust and dismay by those who could not believe his uncouth countryman could possibly be the leader of their country. They were heard and heralded with laudatory approval by those who welcomed his intellectual honesty and depth of compassion as well as his unusual grasp of the history of our land.
I offer a few samples from Sandburg, "The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin wrote 'Thousands would read the President's words and not many would do so without a moistening of the eyes and a swelling of the heart.' The Chicago Times said, 'A rein of comedy was permitted to mingle with the deep pathos of the occasion. Lincoln acted the clown!' The Chicago Tribune reported in a different vein, "The dedicatory remarks of President Lincoln will live among the annals of man.' The Patriot and ? of Harrisburg noted, 'we pass over the silly remarks by he president; for the credit of he nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion be dropped over them and they shall no more be repeated or thought of.'"
Acid tongues and pens know no historical or political boundaries. As the French are known to say, 'The more things change, the more they say the same.' And I seem to remember an even older adage about a prophet being without honor among his contemporaries. Whatever the case, Obama can be reassured his reception puts him in good company.