NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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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  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