Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, November 06, 2006

"Education an important issue in 9th District race "

This story appeared in last Thursday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Dorothy Swanson [PARD Business Outeach Coordinator] is concerned that schools are moving toward teaching only to tests — whether it’s the Washington Assessment of Student Learning or another test to satisfy No Child Left Behind legislation. [Swanson no doubt has been getting some talking points from fellow PARDner and anti-WASL activist Don Orlich]

The WASL and school funding are her main two concerns in relation to the state legislative race between Republican Steve Hailey and Democrat Caitlin Ross.

“The funding of education is always a concern,” said Swanson, who lives in Pullman.

Funding needs to be adequate in all phases of education and for all students, including those in special education, Swanson said.

Hailey agrees education is an important issue in the 9th District, which contains 10 percent of the school districts in Washington as well as Washington State and Eastern Washington universities and Walla Walla Community College.

“That’s how important education is,” he said.

Hailey looks forward to the challenges that will come with funding education, but said he will do all he can to solve those problems.

Ross also believes education is a major issue for the 9th District.

The Washington Constitution states that it’s the paramount duty of the state to educate all children, Ross said.

She realizes the cost of educating a student in special education is higher than other students, but she doesn’t see it as special treatment for those students. It’s individualized education, which all students should receive to some degree, she said.

Ross has no qualms about stating her dissatisfaction with the WASL.

The WASL merely dictates and puts in a box what’s worth learning, Ross said. It sucks all the creativity out of education.

Hailey also believes the WASL has room for improvement.

There needs to be some kind of test to measure student performance and make sure Washington students can compete in the world economy, he said.

Hailey began his campaign believing the state should “stay the course” on the WASL, but has since said constituents in the 9th District want to see a change.

“People are not happy with it,” he said.

Both candidates agree the WASL is expensive.

It uses up too much money that could go to classrooms and students, Ross said.

There are other tests that can be given at a fraction of the cost that still measure student achievement, Hailey said.

Joan Harris [Whitman County Democrats], a Pullman resident, worries that a Republican representative will do less for the district than a Democrat because he wouldn’t be in the majority party in Olympia. [What a shocker]

Hailey doesn’t see that as a major problem.

The 9th District is conservative Republican for a reason, he said.

Hailey thinks he can work across party lines. There will probably be areas where he’ll disagree with other legislators, but he said he’ll work as hard as he can to reach an agreement.

“I hope to take information from both sides of the aisle and make the best decision I can for the district,” he said.

Ross agrees with Harris, saying someone in the majority party could achieve more for the 9th District. [AGAIN with this lame argument?]

Harris also likes the idea of having someone young in the Legislature. [Sure, let's lower the voting age to 12]

Many legislators get into a rut after years in office, she said. Younger people will bring fresh ideas.

Ross, 22, couldn’t agree more. She believes she is just as qualified as anyone to represent the 9th District.

Hailey, 61, said experience is more important than age at the legislative level.

His state and national leadership for the Cattleman’s Association and membership on the Franklin County Planning Commission make him a good candidate, he said.

Life experience also is extremely important, Hailey said. To that, Ross argues she’s gaining life experience by running for office. If the voters don’t elect her, she said she’ll gain more life experience and try again.
Erin Madison is new to covering Pullman, so I'm going to give here the benefit of the doubt. But you don't exactly cover both sides of the story when you interview liberal activists to get the "citizens" viewpoint. I'm sure any number of local Republicans would have been happy to talk about Steve's qualifications.

By the way, Joan, Hailey has not yet served as a legislator. How can he be in a rut yet? "Just as qualified as anyone to represent the 9th District?" What a slap in the face of Steve Hailey and his years of experience, not only working with government, but also in the military, in business and in agriculture.

And we're to believe that Caitlin Ross will continue to live in the two bedroom house of her campaign advisor in Valleyford and run again in two years? Please. Let's send the carpetbagger packing back to Seattle where she belongs. She can continue to gather "life experience" in an area much more in line with her ideology because the 9th District IS conservative Republican, as Hailey said.

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