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November 20, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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November 20, 2014

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Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 - Mason County Journal - Page A-5 GUEST COLUMN Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, flood- ing cities and towns in four states and killing more than 1,800 people. The government re- sponse to Katrina, especially by FEMA (Federal Emer- gency Management Agency), became the poster child for an inept and incompe- tent bureaucracy. By DON But out of this disaster has come a BRUNELL story of success. The hurricane gave New Orleans a vast below the basic math stan- dard. The New Orleans pub- lic school system was the lowest-performing district in Louisiana, and Louisiana was the second-lowest per- forming-state in the nation. When Hurricane Katrina struck, the RSD controlled only five of the state's 128 failing schools. The massive storm was a game changer, opening the way for expansion of charter educators the opportunity schools. By the start of the to reinvent the city's failing 2014-15 school year, all of public schools, the RSD schools, in New Or- Two years before the leans were charter schools storm struck, the state had and nine out of 10 of the created the Louisiana Recov- city's students were in char- ery School District (RSD) to ter schools. turn around a school system According to Christian that was riddled with cor- Science Monitor, test scores ruption and teetering on the and graduation rates have brink of bankruptcy, climbed steadily in New Nearly 75 percent of Orleans. And while there eighth-graders could not are fewer public school stu- meet the basic reading stan- dents than before the storm dard, and 70 percent scored - 43,000, down from 65,000 - the demographics are Charter Schools. Another But the Washington Edu- similar: 90 percent African- four cities topped 30 percent, cation Association wants the American (compared with 94 Christian Science Monitor Washington State Supreme percent pre-Katrina) and 82 reports that Memphis and Court to rule that charter percent low-income (up from Nashville, Tennessee, are schools don't meet the deft- 77 percent), already replicating some ofnition of"common schools" Not all of RSD's charter New Orleans' approaches, in the state Constitution schools were successful. RSD supported by a federal grant and, therefore, should not be shut down or did not renew to turn around their lowest- funded with tax dollars. the contracts of six charter performing schools. Voters approved 1-1240 schools that failed to meet Missouri's board of educa- because they want a choice, standards, proving low-per- tion is considering a New an alternative to our state's forming charter schools are Orleans-style takeover of traditional public schools. dealt with swiftly, the troubled Kansas City Since students learn differ- Charter schools are inde- schools, ently, voters want to give pendent public schools that It is a different story here charter schools a chance. are free to be more innova- in Washington, where a vot-It is time for the oppo- tive but are held strictly er-approved charter school nents to throw in the towel accountable for improving law is being blocked, and allow another approach. student achievement. Char- Initiative 1240 allows the If charter schools can work ter schools let families "vote establishment of up to 40 in New Orleans and in 42 with their feet," creating a charter schools in our state other states, they can work market-based approach that at a rate of no more than in our state too. promotes competition among eight a year. public schools pushing them The initiative, approved B Don C. Brunell is a busi- to improve, by voters in 2012, specifies ness analyst, writer and col- Nationwide, only about 5 that low-income, at-risk stu- umnist. He recently retired percent of public school stu- dents be given priority, as president of the Associa- dents attend charter schools. Charter schools must meet tion of Washington Business, But in Detroit, 51 per- the same rigorous certifica- the state's oldest and largest cent attended charters in tion and performance stan- business organization, and 2012-13, and in Washington, dards, and teachers must benow lives in Vancouver. He D.C., 43 percent, reports the certified just as they are in can be contacted at National Alliance for Public traditional schools, theBrunells@msn.com. LETTERS cont. from page A-4 Veterans Day joint program was a delight Editor, the Journal Having lost my brother, who was a bomber pilot in World War II, I try to go to Veterans Day programs. The joint church and school chorus program at St. Edward Catholic Church on Nov. 12 was wonderful. The chorus was made up of children from elementary and high school and all ages of adults. I want to thank all of those who organized and participated in the event, especially the young men and women from Shelton High School's NJROTC pro- gram, who did the flag presen- tation. So few children and young people are learning of the sac- rifices that have been made for all of us. I am so proud to come from a community that gives the opportunity for young people to not only learn, but also plan on doing their part for America in the future. Evlyn Jensen Hoodsport Our Journal Letter Policy are welcomed. We will not publish letters that are deemed libelous or scurrilous in nature. All letters must be signed and include the writer's name, address and daytime phone number, which will be used for verification purposes only. All letters are subject to editing for length, grammar and clarity. To submit a letter, email letters@masoncounty.com, drop it off at 227 W. Cota St., or mail it to P.O. Box 430, Sheiton, WA 98584. Port of Shelton the fairgrounds. Fire district have tripped on it, especially If the Federal Aviation since it was getting dark. Administration requires that goes bevond i went down to the police property use the property must revert to -- # -- department, and it was closed, aeronautical use only, how so a lady there suggested I stillconfusing is it that the first use ofthe callforreader call911. I chose not to do so. property, as announced by the I went to the fire hall, and Editor, the Journal port, is to provide workspace Editor, the Journal someone there sent someone Just to be clear, I am not, as for port employees to con- On Nov. 15, I was on my over to pick up the piece of far as I know, connected to any- struct new docks for Oakland way to Treasures Thrift Store wood. one or any group involved with Bay marina? when I happened to notice a I understand that this is the fairgrounds, OysterFest, the Are they building a dock piece of wood next to Trea- not the fire district's kind of Port of Shelten or anything else for seaplanes? I'm just curious sures in front of Forest Fu- work, but I wanted to thank going on at the airport grounds, about the port's logic, neral Home. the fire district for removing I'm just a guy who reads It was very rough, like itthe piece of wood. the paper and has a simple Rene Herrerahad come from a fence, andI, myself, could have easily question about the story on Grapeview stuck out where someone could tripped over it. The fire-district members did something they did not have to do. Thank you again. Levina Brown Shelton Foundation aims to help ailing cities Editor, the Journal The United States is lit- tered with cities and several states that are either in or perilously close to bankruptcy. Inhabitants there are hurting and not getting the govern- ment services they should at prices they can afford. There's a smattering of cities in Idaho and a bundle in California close to bank- ruptcy, with the rest scattered from the central states to the East Coast. The same is true for a number of nations. Those in authority became too profligate with other people's money. More often than not, the stewards en- tered unholy alliances with government employee unions, disdained even by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Those unions then rewarded their benefactors with campaign cash and electoral support. It worked for them for a while. Washington has the Freedom Foundation laboring to prevent that from happening here. It is meeting fierce opposition from entrenched interests. Shelton City Commissioner Mike Olsen apparently recently launched a tirade against the fiscal sanity they support. Oh, well. Me and mine don't live in that city, so if tough nuggets develop, we'll only be hit at the periphery. George Wigginton Hoodsport