Letter: ‘Democracy is messy but is designed to select out our best ideas to put into action’

Washougal resident Mark Haller offers his views on the Washougal School District levy on the April 25 special election ballot

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com

The Replacement Educational Levies for the Washougal School District are a hot topic this year as the district tries to balance the budget in challenging financial times.   This is also a challenging time for many of the district’s student population struggling with learning loss and lagging their grade level expectations due largely to the COVID 19 pandemic. 

Mark Haller
Mark Haller

Democracy is messy but is designed to select out our best ideas to put into action. If you look at all the facts and feel a no vote is the best decision for our kids and community, I support your right to vote that way.  It pains me deeply, however, to hear people criticizing the district as “failing” these kids, or criticizing the kids themselves as “lazy… entitled… unskilled… and unwilling to learn.”  

As a volunteer mentor/tutor at the high school, and personally knowing many other people who do the same in the grade schools, I know this is simply not the case for the vast majority of these kids or the district.  The schools and kids all did the best they could in a tough circumstance, the pandemic, that they had no control over and which significantly interfered with their learning environment for a two-year period.  What I have seen, and heard, first-hand is these kids are resilient and are hungry to learn.  

The criticism that the Washougal School District (WSD) is “failing” its students is not accurate.  The district, including teachers and staff, are providing every opportunity they can for these kids to ‘catch up’ with grade level expectations including the Tutor/Mentor program I participate in.  And this pilot program is growing fast – we started the year with five mentors and are now at fourteen, and growing; and this is just in Washougal High.  Comparing WSD to other districts in Washington State, “For the 2023 school year, there are 9 public schools serving 3,001 students in Washougal School District. This district’s average testing ranking is 9/10, which is in the top 20% of public schools in Washington.” Washougal School District (2023) – Washougal, WA 

Mark Haller

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