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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Seattle Times again duplicitously portrays itself as a champion of public education

They’re at it again.

Two months after launching a disingenuous public relations campaign to urge the state Legislature to properly fund higher education, the Blethen-controlled Seattle Times has devoted more than half a spread at the end of its Sunday A section to not one, not two, not three, but four unsigned, buzzword-filled editorials demanding that our schools and universities be spared from further budget cuts in the upcoming special session of the Legislature that Governor Gregoire has called.

As with his “Greater good” ad campaign, Frank Blethen is dishonestly trying to portray himself and the newspaper he owns as noble-minded champions for public education. In reality, as we’ve pointed out before, he is the worst friend that Washington’s students, parents, and teachers could possibly have.

Since the economy began cooling back in late 2007, Blethen has twice supported unconstitutional Tim Eyman initiatives (I-960, I-1053), intentionally written to wreck our system of representative democracy and prevent the Legislature from democratically acting to protect vital public services in bad times.

Blethen has also fiercely opposed progressive ballot measures that would have provided a badly needed boost to our schools and universities (I-1098, R-52).

Through his editorial page, Blethen has repeatedly argued that state spending must match the revenues at hand. (Those italicized words are taken directly from a Seattle Times editorial published last year).

At the same time, he has argued that slashing more dollars from public universities or pinching pennies on early-learning programs are false economies. (That’s from one of the four editorials published today).

These two positions, of course, are irreconcilable – if lawmakers don’t raise revenue (which Blethen says is bad), there’s no way they can prevent further cuts to education (which Blethen also says is bad).

So which position does Blethen really hold? The former. The stances he’s taken on ballot measures at election time make it pretty clear he is firmly opposed to raising revenue – even revenue explicitly dedicated to public education.

So it’s not surprising that none of the editorials published today even mention the word revenue. It’s just not there. If you search for it, you won’t find it.

Since his editorial writers know that discussing possibilities for raising revenue is taboo, all they were able to come up with for this morning’s Sunday edition was a large pile of platitudes, bereft of any useful counsel the Legislature can act on.

I have no doubt that they could have squeezed Frank’s empty sentiments into just one editorial, but they were apparently under orders to come up with four, so they dutifully generated more than a thousand words worth of corporate memo-style lip service to public education. Pretty pathetic.

I know I speak for many fellow students, as well as teachers and parents, when I say that the last thing our schools and universities need right now is more lip service. We are in the midst of a crisis. As a state, we face two choices: Either we raise revenue to protect vital public services like education, or we enact more brutal cuts and promulgate a vicious cycle of austerity that will ultimately destroy Washington as we know it. There isn’t a third option. Anyone who pretends otherwise is preventing us from having a frank dialogue about what’s at stake.

POSTSCRIPT: THE BEGINNING OF AN NPI ADVOCATE INITIATIVE… From this day forward, each time the Seattle Times runs another faux pro-education editorial, we’re just going to make this post sticky at the top of The Advocate for a day. That way, we can respond to future dishonest editorials without having to expend valuable time and energy repeating ourselves. We’ll keep a running tally below of which editorials and Blethen columns this post constitutes a response to.

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One Ping

  1. […] Seattle Times again duplicitously portrays itself as a champion of public education […]

    Ping from Morning Rundown for November 21st, 2011 :: November 21st, 2011 at 9:39 AM