in Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Vancouver Farmers Market fetes 25th; teachers union's stance hurts schools

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Cheers: In addition to sharing the flavors produced by local growers, the Vancouver Farmers Market has spent a quarter-century enhancing the flavor of the city. Over its 25 years of operation — for the past 14 years along the western edge of Esther Short Park — the market has grown into one of the city's undeniable treasures.

Setting up shop each Saturday and Sunday from March through October, the Vancouver Farmers Market has become an eclectic mix of arts, crafts, produce, and people, lending a vibrancy to the downtown area. "When we started, we envisioned one little part of this street," said former Mayor Royce Pollard. "I don't think anyone thought we'd have anything as good as this." The market celebrated its 25th anniversary last weekend and, judging by the crowds that turn out regularly to ingest a slice of Vancouver, it likely will be around for at least 25 more years.

Jeers: Revelations that Hockinson Heights Elementary was the only school in Clark County to meet the standards of the federal No Child Left Behind Act warrant jeers not for the schools but for the state's teachers union. By failing to reach the almost impossible goal of having all students meet the federal standards, other schools in the county must inform parents that the school is "failing."

This is because the Legislature, at the urging of teachers, declined to mandate that standardized student tests must be used to evaluate teachers. Following that, the federal government removed Washington's waiver from No Child Left Behind standards, meaning the state created more problems for itself than it solved.

Cheers: A rebuilt Crestline Elementary School, which has arisen from the ashes of a 2013 fire that destroyed the previous Crestline, has been properly lauded by community members and others. "It's clear to me, you can burn down a building but you cannot burn down a community's commitment to its children," Gov. Jay Inslee said this week during a ceremony at the new school.

The new Crestline was built on the site of the previous facility on an accelerated construction schedule and is ready for students to return. The take-away, as student Payton Rush told the governor last year in the wake of the fire: "We can do hard things."

Jeers: A report from Vancouver-based Shared Hope International and the Sex Trafficking Intervention Research Office at Arizona State University illuminates one of the problems surrounding the issue of sex trafficking. The study found that people in the Portland area who are sentenced for paying to have sex with children spend an average of 14 days in jail.

"Are they out there shopping with no worry?" asked Shared Hope founder and former Congresswoman Linda Smith. The sex trafficking of minors has received increased attention in recent years, largely due to the work of Smith and her group. And while it is important to deal appropriately with traffickers and to treat the minors as victims rather than criminals, buyers also must face harsh consequences in order to effectively deal with the issue.

Cheers: A $133 million Salmon Creek Interchange Project was christened Wednesday, hopefully providing traffic relief to an area that serves Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center, Washington State University Vancouver, and a quickly growing portion of Clark County. The highlight of the project: It was delivered four months early and $11 million under budget.

While the Washington State Department of Transportation deserves kudos for the project, the question is what comes next? The Salmon Creek project is the last in this area to be funded by the state's 2003 gas tax, and lawmakers are under pressure to deliver funding for new transportation infrastructure.