It seems like they keep coming – more and more bonds for support of various parts of your community. The latest is essentially an infrastructure bond for Pullman Schools, with a primary focus on Lincoln Middle School. It’s one I strongly support, I will vote for and I’m encouraging you to vote for it as well.

I have mixed feelings about schools in our area. From my perspective, and I’ve written about it on these pages, they are not nearly as good as I think they should be considering that we’re anchored by two large university communities.

And while our schools are certainly not as bad as those in low income areas, we should know better where the world is going and embrace change. Moscow, when it attempted to move the needle on actually changing the direction of curriculum, with mastery-based education, blew it both through administrative fumble as well as revanchists screaming loud enough to deep-six any major change.

And when it comes to Pullman, the last great experiment ended up with a shining “Prison on the Hill” high school, complete with chronic lockdown of students and airlock entry. Last time I was up there, the sign on the front of the building had no exhortations to either friendship or education. Instead, it reminded students they were under constant surveillance.

There are some truly bright experiments being run on the periphery of our educational system, like Moscow’s Palouse Prairie Charter School, which finally has a more permanent home. But overall, I do understand that the landscape, when it comes to education, isn’t great.

But the situations above are absolutely NOT the reason to sit this bond issue out. This is one to vote for, and put aside our various issues with the Pullman School District.

Why? Because even with all its problems, and there are many, public education and its baseline support are vital for a free society. And this bond is about infrastructure. If you think you’re “sending a message” to the school district by not voting or voting no, it’s the wrong message to send. This bond supports things like a viable heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for Lincoln Middle School, technology maintenance and improvement across the school district and a host of other items. The sponsors have pretty clearly stated what the money will be spent on. It is a replacement levy, and your taxes will not go up.

And this idea about punishing our government through withholding support is something that has to stop. All we get when we act in that fashion is a crippled government, or institution, that is even less able to manage the rapid change the world is facing. The buildings in the school district are where we send our children to school. And the notion that our children should not breathe clean air or should swelter as some sort of message of discontent, is simply reprehensible.

I actually don’t believe in cutting school or district administration any slack on the big issues. But we also, as a voting populace, have to realize that we’ve been slumbering as far as meaningful interaction with our different parts of government for the last 30 years. We bear part of the blame in the problems we’re seeing. So we should get on this. We desperately need a reconceptualization of K-16. It’s only marginally working in our community, number of Merit Scholars and prestigious admittances to universities be damned.

We need strong physical infrastructure, regardless of curricular evolution. Let’s put this one in the win column, and get down to talking about the larger issues we as both an educated, and an erudite, community should be discussing.

Ballots will be sent out around Jan. 24, and need to be postmarked by Feb. 11. Just get it done.

Chuck Pezeshki is a professor in mechanical and materials engineering at Washington State University.

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