Northwest NEWS

April 5, 1999

Editorial

Other needs come before athletic fields

   I feel I must answer the letter concerning the athletic fields at Cedarcrest High School. The writer challenged those of us who voted against them to look our athletes in the face and answer "why."

   I have voted against the athletic fields and will continue to do so until other issues concerning Riverview teachers, students, and programs are enhanced, which I feel have a greater priority. It's a hard choice, because I love kids and my community. I want to encourage our youth to develop sportsmanship and character by having good, clean fun. I also want to support our local schools. I take pride in helping finance (through taxes) a facility of which we can all be proud.

   Like most hard choices, extracurricular activities vie for funding among other important issues. I think Riverview teachers deserve larger salaries. Many teachers have not received real raises in years. Because of increased costs like insurance, as well as inflation, they've actually lost ground. As a secretary on the Eastside, I make more than most teachers. We should reward and attract good teachers, who give so much of themselves. Poor salaries are a shame.

   My husband's two children attended Riverview schools and went on to graduate from the UW with multiple degrees. One is going on to graduate school. What a shame there was so little administration commitment and funding for their gifted program. In Kelso, Washington, a much poorer community, Dr. Peg Miller runs the gifted program, which has a whole elementary school campus, complete with bus routes!

   My oldest son attended high school at Cedarcrest without graduating and with very poor grades. Why? Because he had a reading disability that was undiagnosed. When he transferred to Otteson High in Kirkland, he graduated, and is now earning a 3.8 GPA at Lake Washington Technical College in Precision Machining. He is so encouraged by his progress, he plans to obtain an engineering degree. This state required its schools to extensively test and develop effective plans for dealing with disabled students. Unfortunately, this can sap already stretched resources in a school district's budget. What a shame he had to go to another school district to succeed.

   My daughter, an honor student for years in Riverview schools, developed a genetic mental illness. The loss of her father worsened her condition. What a shame she was forced to wait for weeks to talk to a school counselor because there were only two for over 800 students. She has made courageous and heroic progress through private counseling and medication now. What a shame a special program wasn't developed for her, away from noisy, large (38+ student) classrooms, enabling her to better focus on her school work. She, too, is going elsewhere to finish her education.

   I still have a student at Riverview in Tolt Middle School. I think the administration and teachers are great. What a shame our kids wait for months for proper textbooks and lack enough computers and equipment to make learning fun! These issues, to me, are more important than very costly sports facilities for extracurricular activities, lovely as they are.

   If there are any kids who love sports out there who want to ask me why I followed my kids' advice and voted against the athletic fields, I'll tell them. "Riverview Schools are a crying shame!"

Susan Wolf