At The Stranger – Brain Off, Anger On

October 20, 2011

We all know that a lot of swearing and yelling goes on over at The Stranger, which bills itself as Seattle’s Only Newspaper, at least that’s how their 2011 election endorsement page comes across.  Here’s what they say about the Families and Education Levy:

"Proposition No. 1, Families and Education Levy – Vote Yes, Obviously
Only assholes oppose this seven-year levy. It allows the city government to assist our chronically underfunded school district with $232 million for school health clinics and early-learning and enhanced-learning programs that benefit struggling and low-income students. The only group that officially opposes this levy is the Seattle Republican Association. So vote yes."

Anger clouds the mind.  As Gandhi said, "Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding," so Stranger editorial writers probably aren't aware that:

  • The School District is not underfunded.  It's budget is $577 million, an $11 million increase over last year.
  • Seattle schools spend $13,100 a year per student, the highest level in the state – more than Bellevue, more than Redmond, more than Kirkland, more than Medina.
  • In 2010 Seattle voters generously approved three education levies, including an extra $48 million for operations, thus shielding Seattle schools from education cuts passed by Democrats in Olympia.
  • One in three public school students drop out.
  • Nearly half of black students drop out – that's a scandal by itself.
  • Only 59 cents of every education dollar reaches the classroom.
  • Average pay for public school central office administrators is $132,000 plus benefits – a kid who drops out of one of their schools will earn far less.
  • The Families and Education Levy is a regressive property tax, it falls hardest on the poor, the jobless, and elderly people living on fixed incomes.
  • Seattle’s 70,000 elderly have received no Social Security cost-of-living increase for two years.
  • This year's Levy represents a huge tax increase imposed during the worst recession since the 1930s; this Levy is double the one it replaces.

Voting "yes, obviously" tells the city establishment it's O.K. that one third of kids drop out, it's O.K. nearly half of minority kids don't get an education, it's O.K. that only 59 cents of every education dollar reaches the classroom, it's O.K. that nearly 40% of Seattle school graduates are not ready for college.

You're not an "a—hole" for thinking that increasing a regressive tax on the poor and elderly to pour more money into a dysfunctional system is a bad idea.  A "no" vote is about accountability for the adults that run the system.  A "no" vote says the status quo is unacceptable, and that Seattle schools need real change that improves learning outcomes for all children.

Vote "no" and tell school district executives to stop asking for more money and to start educating kids...and you don't need a string of four-letter words to say that.