Letters to the Editor

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  • Monday, March 3, 2008 1:10pm

This math doesn’t add up for students

What is now passed off as math in our schools has degraded students’ abilities in the subject below world standards. This is catastrophic. I am not an expert, card carrying math educational administrator; I merely minored in math and find it a satisfying life-long hobby. One myth says that “old” math is too boring and can’t be taught. Another that “old” math is not pertinent to today’s job skills. Both totally untrue. Is math difficult? Sure, but why not strive to conquer difficult things?

Historically, when there have been differences of opinion, sometimes a contest ensued. David and Goliath. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Garry Kasparov and Deep Blue.

How about a math contest? I’d offer myself, an ordinary non-expert, against a Shoreline Math Administrator/Educator (not currently a teacher). In public, six hours, intense, timed and structured on world math standards and not WASL or the Shoreline district. Include all areas from simple multiplication up to basic differential and integral calculus. No books. No calculators. We do logarithms by hand with infinite series. Mano y mano. Scores posted immediately and not after six months. I’ll use the uncool, repetitive and archaic math of Leibniz, Euclid, Fermat and my fourth-12th grade math teachers. The math used by engineers, designers and builders in our region to build the best commercial airliners the world has ever seen. The math that took us to the moon and back. Versus current, cool, integrated, conceptual, philosophical math that is junk and debris math and a totally failed learning method.

With correct, traditional curriculum, students can be taught properly to learn math in a substantive and useful manner!

Raymond Koelling

Lake Forest Park

Children will bounce back from closures

The citizens committee of Shoreline schools has said that the gangrene of financial disaster requires amputation. We mourn the expected loss. There is a litany of school closures of the past: Ronald, Richmond Beach, Hillwood, Cromwell Park, Paramount Park, Meridian, Cedarbrook, Aldercrest, Horizon View, Morgan, (old) Kellogg, Cordell Hull, Butler Junior High and beloved Shoreline High School.

Children are resilient. Each new year they attend a new classroom with new classmates and a new teacher. New relationships will be forged which build character. It is not the building. Learning can take place in classrooms with no desks and only benches for the students and blackboards for the teacher. Learning is the dynamic between the teacher and the student and the subject matter.

As a child and “Army Brat,” I attended eight schools in 12 years. Many states, not neighborhoods or communities as Shoreline. Plus, schools at German Army Posts with students I had never met. The size of the schools ranged from a rural school of 36 for all twelve grades to a school with 2,700 students and one way halls and stairs for passing between classes.

As a parent, I recommend a page from my mother’s handbook. Each move was an opportunity to expand our horizons in understanding our world. You, as a parent, can give your children the gift of a positive outlook and the curiosity of exploring new experiences.

The children will succeed and after all that is our mutual goal for their educational experience. We mourn the expected loss. We fear the expected changes. Change can be frightening, but we can make the transition a positive experience.

La Nita Jordan Wacker


Man can and does impact Earth

John Branson tells us “… scientists cannot agree on (global) warming.” He does not believe “… man is big enough to upset the balance of … planet Earth. Nor is he big enough to right it again. Man has not even learned how to stop a hurricane or catch a lightning bolt.”

Truth is stranger than fiction. The truth is scientists (those who write for peer-reviewed journals) do agree that global warming is upon us and man is largely responsible. Deforestation, urbanization and suburbanization, petroleum-fueled farming and transportation are all pushing us toward a desert planet (on land and sea). The only thing serious scientists disagree about is how soon events will begin to accelerate beyond our control. Many think what we are seeing now is the result of CO2 pollution from the 1960s because of Earth’s natural inertia.

I agree with Mr. Branson. A single man cannot upset the balance of our planet nor can he right it. But 6 billion plus their offspring most certainly can. Stopping hurricanes? Even the average hurricane packs 1.5 trillion watts (terawatts) in its winds, equivalent to half the world’s electrical generating capacity. If we want to catch some of this energy, then I suggest we begin installing more wind turbines on the Gulf Coast. Stopping a hurricane is out of the question. But perhaps we can stop hurricanes from becoming more powerful over time. Catching lightning? We have had the ability to catch lightning bolts since the early 19th century with lightning rods.

Fighting global warming means thinking globally and acting locally. You can act locally by planting a tree. Or, if you want to make your home greener, consider installing solar power. A typical 2 kW home solar power system is the equivalent of 400 trees in removing CO2.

Eric Teegarden

Mountlake Terrace

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