Less hostility, more listening
Last night (March 18), Methow Valley School District Superintendent Tom Venable, elementary school Principal Anne Andersen and high school Principal Deborah DeKalb attempted to host a community discussion about the opportunity for our school district to become part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) framework. Tom shared the findings from his “Listening and Learning” process here in the Methow and noted that when visiting classrooms and talking with students, they could share what they were learning but they couldn’t share why it was important or where this learning could take them.
I visited an IB school in Bellingham in 2014, before this was such a hot topic. I met with the principal, walked the halls, visited classrooms and talked with teachers and students. What I saw was passion and excitement for learning, from both the students and the teachers. The students were proud of their project-based learning and wanted to show off their discoveries. These students provided the answers that our students can’t … they could tell me why they chose that project topic, why it was important to them and how or what they’d like to learn on this topic in the future (this coming from first- through-fifth graders).
I am a preschool teacher and know firsthand the value of asking the how, why and what questions, this is how children learn to think independently, make choices that help them discover their preferences, interests and values. Asking questions in this style honors the differences in our children and our valley.
Many of the voices heard last night were argumentative and critical but lacked specific examples or attributes of what they opposed about the IB program. One speaker mentioned the “elephant in the room” being that conservative families don’t feel the IB framework supports them … but if through the IB framework we are letting our children choose what they want to learn, isn’t is possible that they could make project choices that align to their family values?
In conclusion, I hope more people will participate in the IB discussion and bring specific examples and less hostility to the next community meeting. And for me personally, I support IB, Tom, Anne and Deborah.
Geva Maher, Winthrop
Support the grizzlies
We live on the edge of one of the few wild and remote spaces left in the Lower 48. The North Cascades: 10,000 square miles of rugged peaks, alpine meadows, forested valleys, hidden lakes, snow fed streams, an array of wildlife and some great people. Incredible natural beauty and vast wildness brings many of us to visit or live in this spectacular place. Our wild North Cascades also provide highly valued and measurable services to people: clean water, clean air, water storage, timber, minerals, hunting of game and fish, berries, mushrooms, recreation, trail and camp use, livestock grazing, historic significance as well as a great spiritual significance to so many of us.
The only things missing here are a healthy grizzly bear population and long-term multiple use protection of the greater North Cascades ecosystem. Development continues to close in on public lands. Less than 40 percent of the area is permanently protected/restricted by National Park status. Grizzly recovery is one way to protect the rest of our wild and wonderful North Cascades region while maintaining multiple uses. Federally listed as threatened in 1975 and then listed endangered by Washington state in 1980, the grizzly bear currently lives in less than 2 percent of its former range and agencies are mandated to recover the species in appropriate areas.
We can live with grizzly bears in a very few remote wild places as others do in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Alaska. We need to educate ourselves on the actual risks and modify our behaviors to minimize the risk. It’s a commitment to keeping clean camps, storing and disposing of food and garbage properly, traveling safely in wild country and understanding the role humans play in keeping curious and intelligent wild animals out of trouble. These practices keep so many wild animals from coming into conflict with humans: chipmunks, squirrels, pack rats, marmots, jays, ravens, mountain goats, deer, coyotes, wolves and even bears.
Let’s keep this place wild and wonderful, for everyone. You can comment on the Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan until Thursday (March 26). Go to parkplanning.nps.gov and click on the North Cascades Park Complex.
Alexa Whipple, Winthrop
Not worth it
I found Sally Gracie’s March 18 column disturbing.
A $10 difference in the price of a bag of dog food does not make a trip to the Omak Wal-Mart worthwhile. The gas alone is not worth it; nor is the time spent. And if one factors in the contribution that Wal-Mart makes to the proliferation of cheap plastic “garbage,” and the fact that they destroy local merchants’ livelihoods, I just can’t see where a $10 price difference on a bag of dog food makes it worthwhile to support such a socially unconscious enterprise as W******.
Rico Meleski, Twisp