Paying It Forward: Why I Vote YES for Kids and Schools

When I was in elementary school in the Tammany School District outside of Lewiston, and then in junior high and high school in the Central Valley School District in the Spokane Valley, my parents voted faithfully for every school bond and levy. I didn’t realize this at first, of course, but at some point tuned into this and asked my dad why they always voted yes.

“Somebody paid for my school,” he said in his blunt, no-nonsense way.

I’ve come to understand and appreciate a lot more about public policy and public funding since then. His answer still makes sense.
  • Somebody paid for my school.
  • Somebody paid for your school.
  • Somebody paid for the schools attended by the anti-school/anti-kid people currently perpetrating outright lies about school funding.
  • Public infrastructure relies on a "pay it forward" mentality: We use things funded by someone before us, and we fund infrastructure for the future.

The antis are trying—yet again--to kill support for the levies that are up for a vote in over a dozen districts right now. I just wish the antis had paid a little more attention in math class. Mrs. Whosie-Whatsie probably tried to teach them percentages but they apparently slept through that one. They’re mailing around a flyer that claims, in big bold type, that the state pays “100%” of public education.

Gosh, I guess the Washington State Supreme Court missed the memo. In their ruling of January 5, 2012, they held—quite unmistakably—that the state legislature does not fully fund basic education, failing in their constitutional duty.

Education is the primary obligation of the state according to the constitution, but the funding doesn’t reflect this. Perhaps the anti-school people slept through reading class, too, and thus missed the stories in the Spokesman-Review and around the state about the ruling.

The state Supreme Court directed the state legislature to fulfill their duty. But guess what—in the current resource-poor, revenue-challenged environment, the legislature is considering further cuts to public education funding.

This makes the local levies more critical than ever before, and the lies of these anti-school, anti-kid, anti-future people even more egregious.

In Spokane local levies fund a full one-quarter of the district budget. Take away 25% of the teachers, 25% of the aides, 25% of the maintenance crews, 25% of the books, 25% of the computers, 25% of the science lab equipment and supplies, 25% of the people responsible for reporting to the federal government so we can keep getting the federal dollars that make up another portion of the budget, 25% of the effort to identify at-risk kids early and help them graduate successfully, 25% of sports and extracurriculars and math and reading and science—that’s what you get without the levy.

This isn’t abstract for me. I have put two kids through the Spokane Public Schools system by choice, moving back to Spokane from Coeur d’Alene and choosing my home based on the schools they would attend.

They each received an outstanding education, bonded with teachers who served as special mentors, and participated in precisely the kinds of activities that are most threatened by budget cuts.

Eldest Daughter, who sings like an angel (if that angel sounded like a somewhat husky-throated jazz lounge regular), got amazing choir instruction from the late Kathleen Blair at Lewis and Clark High School. She gained practical work experience through a program that built her resume and prepared her for the world of work she’s now in, and she excelled at Spanish, English, and social studies.

Second Daughter, who heads to New York City with me this week so she can audition for several colleges in hopes of majoring in musical theater, has grown incredibly as a performer under the direction of Greg Pschirrer, who heads the drama department at Lewis and Clark. She also benefits from the head start on college-level math and everything else she got by going through the Odyssey gifted/talented program at the Libby School, and she’ll start college with quite a few credits already in hand thanks to advanced placement courses.

This is Second Daughter’s last year in public school. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop voting for levies and bonds. I still have a stake in the outcome. I'm not "done" with public education. No one ever really is--that's why Greater Spokane Incorporated, our combined regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, is speaking out strongly and actively in support of the levies.

The kids entering kindergarten now will be getting out of college around the time I become eligible for Social Security.
  • Some of them will be applying to medical school (maybe on my campus) when I start receiving Medicare.
  • They’ll fix the brakes on the STA bus I ride to work when I’m not biking.
  • They’ll test (or reinvent) the instruments my eye doctor uses to determine whether I have the first signs of glaucoma—which is preventable but only if you detect it early.
  • They’ll dispense my prescriptions—I’d like them to get those right, please.
  • They’ll climb the Avista poles to fix the wires when another ice storm hits.
  • They’ll program the computers at Spokane Teachers CreditUnion that keep track of my money.
  • They’ll teach my grandkids in school.
  • They'll work for your business--or buy it--or hire your kids to work for them.

I will rely on those kids. So will you. Let’s pay it forward the way someone did for us.

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Note: I've volunteered on every levy and bond campaign for Spokane Public Schools beginning in 2003, and co-chaired Citizens for Spokane Schools through two election cycles (2006 and 2009). I'm proud of the incredible outpouring of support from parents, community leaders, and volunteers in our schools every day, and through each and every campaign cycle. I'm proud to live in a community that has voted overwhelmingly in support of school funding time after time. I hope and expect to be proud again on Election Day February 14--or whenever they finish counting the ballots.

Hate Cannot Drive Out Hate; Only Love Can Do That

Years ago--but not that many years ago--it was illegal for two people of different races to marry each other.

We look back now and (most of us) can't imagine how the law could categorize one set of human characteristics as somehow less or more than another set of human characteristics, let alone tell two adult human beings who love each other that they may not state that commitment publicly to the world.

We can't believe that two adult humans who love each other couldn't receive all the same rights and obligations that two other people, with a different set of human characteristics that fit within a particular boundary, can have for free after a quick stop in Vegas.

We can't believe that having a particular characteristic was so shameful that people had to hide it and pretend to be something they were not so they could "pass," or that people could be brutally beaten to death simply for being who they were.

We have come so far as a society, truly. Can't we come the rest of the way and complete the spirit of the civil rights movement by ensuring that all people have an equal right to love and to marry?

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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -Martin Luther King Jr.

A Few Things You Can do with Quinoa

Quinoa is the vegetarian's best friend because it's a complete protein in the grain family. It's also best buds for people who are gluten-free. That makes this assemblage of things you can do with quinoa a great dish for potlucks because you can feed people who can't eat the other stuff on the buffet. If you leave out the nuts or leave them on the side for people to add you're almost 100% home free on food sensitivities.

This is really approximate because I don't actually use a recipe.

2 c. quinoa
1 can garbanzo beans (or 2 if you really like garbanzos), drained/rinsed
3 T. pine nuts (could substitute slivered or chopped almonds)
4-5 green onions, chopped w/green tops
Approx 1 c. chopped celery
You could also add some carrot—I’d probably grate it for a change of shape from the chopped things

Curry option
The seasonings are REALLY approximate—taste and adjust after you mix everything up.
2 t. curry
¾ t. coriander
¾ t. cardamom
Dash of cloves
1 t. salt
½ t. pepper (or white pepper if you have it because that hides nicely in the pale ingredients)

Cook the quinoa with 4 c. water and the seasonings for 15 min. Toss with all the other ingredients. Taste, and sprinkle in a bit more of the various seasonings if it doesn’t seem zingy enough. I find curry kind of raw-tasting if it isn’t cooked and mellowed out, which is why I put the seasonings in the cooking water.

Something I didn’t add that could be kind of fun: chipotle or chili powder in place of the regular pepper.

Sweet option
Another direction I’ve gone with the same basic ingredients listed above:

Add ½ c. or more craisins or currants
Change seasonings to cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and salt
Add approx. 1/3 c. honey

This is kind of like a salad I got at some airport that I was trying to replicate.