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Education: Don’t forget the variable of the student




Re: “Children can’t stride into the future in a 19th-century education system” [March 5, Opinion]:

I have been a high school teacher for more than 50 years, the last eight as a volunteer teaching advance placement economics on weekends. Donald P. Nielsen makes some good points in his Op-Ed about the need for change but is too critical of our educational system.

Although I haven’t had many opportunities to observe other teachers, I get feedback from my students as well as from my contact with teachers. Most of my colleagues are hard working and competent. Yes, the National Education Association is hugely devoted to teacher interests, but it also advocates for better teaching, including an honest look at African American history.

More importantly, Nielsen ignores one of the most important variables in the educational system — the student. Many family situations have made education difficult for students. Recently, COVID-19 has reduced student motivation. Poor attendance, missed assignments and school activities, and the lack of study have increased.

I won’t speak to the cause of these changes, but I continue to believe that most of Washington state’s classrooms are doing a good job and would do better if students got off their cellphones and came to school prepared to learn.

Brian LeTourneau, Olympia

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