Washington parents exploring where to send their kids to school should do their homework (pun intended), analyze data such as student-teacher ratios, and then ... tap a good Windermere agent in Bellevue. According to the new U.S. News and World Report ranking, the Bellevue School District is home to four of the top five high schools in the state. (Number one is the International School which ranks ninth nationally.) Alas, only one Seattle school breaks the top-ten ceiling (the consistently impressive Garfield listed as Washington's tenth best.)
The U.S. News rankings often provoke righteous indignation, especially its annual "best of" college list. Are the benchmarks of math and reading proficiency, student-teacher ratio, and the catchall "college readiness" sufficiently comprehensive? The broader takeaway is something that all Northwest egalitarians find repellent, that proportionately quality education continues to track with household income.
"The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line," W.E.B. DuBois wrote more than 100 years ago. It's an undercurrent that still flows despite the 21st century election of an African-American president. In his Seattle Times column this morning, Danny Westneat considers the findings of University of Washington psychology professor Tony Greenwald, that race continues to insinuate itself in voter attitudes.
"How the mind chooses whom to vote for is a complex matter. You may gravitate subconsciously to whoever is most like you, but end up voting based on a slew of other considerations — about the economy, say, or who seems the most competent or sides with your views on, say, health-care reform," Westneat writes. "So Greenwald has tried to isolate voters' racial attitudes from their political biases. The result provocatively suggests that even liberals who have subconscious 'white preferences' also tend to favor Republican candidates versus Obama. Internal racial bias can be so powerful it trumps political bias in the voting booth."
One of the more underreported Northwest stories was April's Anchorage city elections and its attendant comedy of errors. (65 of the city's 121 precincts ran short on ballots.) The voting fiasco is now prompting an official inquiry. The Anchorage Daily News' Kyle Hopkins writes, "The Anchorage Assembly voted Tuesday to pay a retired judge up to $35,000 to conduct a monthlong investigation into the sloppy April 3 city election. Assembly Chairman Ernie Hall says he's tapped former Superior Court Judge Daniel Hensley to conduct the review, which has been requested by the ACLU of Anchorage, the city clerk who oversees elections and scores of angry voters."
Negative political ads do not gladden the hearts of Northwesterners. As the Seattlepi.com reports, "The state’s residents are sick and tired of dirty, negative TV spots but vulnerable to their messages, according to a new statewide poll conducted by AARP Washington, the influential voice for seniors. In the survey, 79 percent of those polled agreed that it is difficult to determine if claims made in TV ads are correct. But only a third of those polled are aware that there is no law or penalty against making false or misleading claims in political advertising." Sadly, because these negative attacks continue to influence voter attitudes, the political noise will remain at full volume.
Lastly, a University of Washington professor, Rob Crawford, has ventured into the national debate on the legality and efficacy of enhanced interrogation techniques (otherwise know as torture.) In The News Tribune, Crawford presents a compelling and timely retort to torture apologists, challenging President Obama to do more.
U.S. News and World Report, "Washingon's best high schools"
Seattle Times, "Race still an issue, 4 years on"
Anchorage Daily News, "Retired judge to investigate election"
Seattlepi.com, "State is sick of dirty political ads on TV"