Letters to the Editor: March 25
March 24, 2009 · Updated 2:01 PM
School board should restart
The vote on the school bond was not surprising, but disappointing.
I read The Beachcomber’s online election update Wednes-day night and the comments posted there.
I’m convinced most of the voters who rejected the bond measure were thinking of the uncertain economy, while others had an honest disagreement over the amount or the scope.
But there is a portion of this community — maybe a reflection of the country — that refuses to see anyone’s opinion but their own and labels all others as out of touch with reality. It’s pretty easy to say those who disagree with you are out of touch with reality.
My kids are in Vashon High School and McMurray Middle School; the reality is the buildings are crummy and will get crummier.
We can’t continue to underfund schools and then complain that they aren’t kept up. Whatever it costs, it will always be too much — schools, roads, sewers, transit. Trouble is most of “us” never made the investment in what we have — it was made by our parents, so we all could go to nice schools, could drive on paved roads and have flush-toilets. God forbid that we do our part and invest in the next generation like what was done for us.
The school board should start again, as difficult as that may seem for them now. Use another model — such as a community/stakeholder-lead process that is inclusive to create the plan and the necessary buy-in.
It should be done because it is what this community needs. We are not a retirement community, we are not a bedroom community, and we are not a commuter community. We are a community.
We need to take care of all the needs of the community, not just the ones that are important to you or me. To do otherwise should be disappointing to all of us.
— Brad Shinn
Abandon the high school
The voters have spoken. The high school is in poor condition due to chronic mismanagement. Barring wholesale changes in Vashon Island School District’s culture and leadership, it would be foolhardy to build a new one.
Given the increasingly small number of students VISD will serve in the years to come, it makes most sense to begin steps to have Vashon High School closed and condemned. With the money saved, the Island community can contract with surrounding school districts — Seattle, Kitsap, Tacoma — to provide education to this dwindling student population. The faculty population can be reduced accordingly.
Outsourcing our high school education services would have the added benefit of increasing revenue to our cash-strapped ferry system — the order of hundreds of passenger fares per day.
VISD shares with these districts the same dwindling demographics; we can best serve all our students by consolidating and achieving efficiencies of scale.
As the parent of a toddler, I thank the community for its bold, forward-looking stance. Our children deserve nothing less than the best; for the sake of my own child’s education, it means looking past our shores.
— Daniel Luechtefeld
Survey is not valid
Last week’s Beachcomber quoted me as saying, “I don’t care if it (the library survey) comes out 4,000 for Ober and none for K2, it’s still not a valid survey.” My quote was, in fact, “I don’t care if it comes out 4,000 for K2 and none for Ober...”
My point was, and is, that the current survey, which is a “self-select” survey, cannot accurately reflect the opinions of Islanders.
There are a number of sources that give information about the basics of a valid survey. One, skepdic.com/selectionbias.htm, quotes Norman Bradburn, director of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, regarding “self-select” surveys.
He coined the acronym SLOP to describe polls that use selection bias to get their samples. SLOP is an acronym for self-selected listener opinion polls. Bradburn compares them to radio talk shows: They attract a slice of America that is not representative of the country as a whole.
“As a result, SLOP surveys litter misinformation and confusion across serious policy and political debates, virtually wherever and whenever they are used.”
There are a number of ways to get accurate public opinion. Unfortunately, the current unscientific library survey will not give the King County Library System staff and board meaningful information on how to spend taxpayer money.
— Truman O’Brien
Library could move to Vashon Plaza
This week my husband and I sat down to discuss and fill out our library questionnaires, and our questions of the proposed sites brought about the idea of a totally new library site.
The auto parts store has just moved out of the plaza just north of the post office and left open what seemed to us to be the perfect spot for a new library.
The building is about 10,000 square feet, and while it would need renovation, it would probably need less than the K2 site and certainly would be less costly than building a new building at Ober Park. Another plus is that it has lots of parking already.
We felt it was a plus to have it just off the main highway but still within walking distance to the core of Vashon. We use the library and have waited for ferry traffic and done the “take your life in your hands” approach to getting in and out.
With this proposal in mind, I went to the library meeting in Burien with the hope of speaking with someone who might be able to look into this site.
What I discovered was that they are not willing to consider a site unless it is on the main highway. Are most small-town libraries on the main highway?
Unfortunately, all three of the projects they are considering appear to be coming in over budget, which by my guess means they hope we will make up the difference.
The Vashon Plaza site would probably stay within budget. I came away from the meeting with the impression that they have already made up their minds, but maybe our questionnaires will have some impact.
— Judie Rady
Hamas goal is conquest
Kate Hunter and Jim Hauser’s letter in the March 11 Beachcomber seems to reflect Hamas’s effective propaganda of inflated, mendacious statistics. However, those statistics are contravened by third-party United Nations observers.
The Hunter/Hauser implication is that the Israelis had “run off” the Palestinians “at gunpoint.” That’s false. The facts are that the state of Israel was established after the rebellion against the British occupational mandate in 1947 and 1948.
Fact: No Israeli guns were pointed at the Muslims.
Fact: The Judaic presence in the disputed land has been continuous for 3,400 years. This predates Mohammed and his wars thrusting up from Saudi Arabia in the seventh century by more than 2,000 years — if “occupation” is a factor.
Fact: Israel has been subjected to decades of terrorist attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah. And a study of the Muslim Qur’an will reveal that conquest, masked as conversion, is the driving force behind Islam.
James Michener’s “The Source” is an objective, meticulously researched tale of the Middle East, and “The Haj,” a remarkable novel by Leon Uris, is written from the viewpoint of a respected Muslim imam. Good reading for any who want a perspective of historical impacts.
Any “peace” that results in the destruction of Israel will be the same kind of peace immortalized by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his non-aggression pact in 1938. Chamberlain promised “peace for our time.”
With whom did he negotiate?
How long did that “peace” last? A matter of months, before Hitler began his violent sweep of Europe.
The terrorist-spawning grounds of Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaida in the Middle East have one goal: conquest. They won’t stop with Israel. History proves this. Peace in our time? Well, it may be peaceful for us in Muslim concentration camps, but I think few of us would survive the experience.
— Kathryn Ilsley-Shannon
World view is changing
Recently, Andrew Schwarz solicited support for Israeli attacks on Gaza by asking us to imagine attacks on Vashon. This tactic appeals to reactionary, visceral instincts; it is effective, but profoundly misleading.
By contrast, Yonatan Schapira, a former Israeli Air Force captain, gives a thoughtful assessment. He and his parents work near Gaza and are threatened by Palestinian rockets.
In a recent BBC interview, Schapira said: “My government is now engaged in a massive war crime. ... As a Jewish person that was raised on all these values of liberation and humanity and freedom, we cannot kill the desire of the Palestinian people to live in freedom.”
Responding to a comment that the Israeli attack on Gaza is defensive, Schapira replied: “The Palestinians will say the same thing. ... They are being trapped in this open-air prison for decades, and they cannot eat, they cannot have medicine, they cannot go in, they cannot go out. We lock them there in a big ghetto. ... We are locking this 1.5 million people for so long, and we treat them as animals, and this is the result.”
In an April 2, 2008, article, Schwarz claimed Israeli peace activist Eitan Bronstein, an opponent of Israeli occupation who spoke on Vashon, said only 7,000 to 8,000 Palestinians were displaced when Israel was established. Bronstein stuttered speaking the numbers, but obviously meant 700,000 to 800,000.
Despite simplistic analogies and distortions of the truth in support of Israel, world opinion is mounting against Israeli occupation. Honest assessments like those of Schapira and Bronstein are relatively few, but they are increasing. There can be no peace until Israel acknowledges the injustices it has inflicted on the Palestinians and works to remedy them.
— Richard Paulis