Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Jan. 31, 2023

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Civics in action; learning lost

The Columbian
Published:

Cheers: To civic engagement. Several candidates on the November ballot made politics seem more approachable for students this week at Columbia River High School. A two-day forum gave young voters an opportunity to ask questions and engage with candidates for offices ranging from county council to the Legislature to Congress.

Robust civics education is essential to strengthening our democracy; understanding the process and the people involved bolsters our faith in the system. Washington in 2020 passed a law requiring high schools to provide instruction on civic responsibility and political engagement, and bringing candidates to the students helps to humanize that process. Politics are too often portrayed as the purview of “them,” when in fact it is “us” through the people we elect. Cheers go to the teachers who invited candidates to school and to the candidates who participated. But mostly, cheers go to the students who took part in learning how our government works.

Jeers: To learning loss. The release of standardized test scores has quantified how severely education was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Clark County scores indicate improvement from 2021, but students still have not reached the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

Across the country, scores show states that reopened schools sooner than other states did not necessarily fare better; students all over the country suffered from learning loss. The goal now is not to point fingers or assess blame, but to recognize the importance of in-person contact with teachers and to help those teachers get their students up to speed.

Cheers: To Leah Hing. Pearson Air Museum has added a 1931 Fleet Model 7 biplane to its permanent display, honoring the legacy of pilot Leah Hing. As the first U.S.-born Chinese American pilot, Hing was well-known in aviation circles during the 1930s. Even her back story, as explained by Columbian reporter Monika Spykerman, sounds fascinating: “Hing was touring the country as a saxophone player in a vaudeville troupe when she took a plane ride at a school for Chinese American aviators in Chicago.” Returning to Portland, she ended up taking flying lessons at Pearson.

The plane has been housed at the Pearson Field Education Center, which is separate from the museum. Adding it to the museum, along with a panel detailing Hing’s story, helps bring Vancouver’s aviation history to life.

Jeers: To opportunistic criminals. Residents from three homes in the Nakia Creek Fire evacuation zone have reported burglaries, and two other reports have been filed online.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office increased patrols in the area, but deputies can’t watch everything. Four arrests were made during the evacuation period, including two for suspicion of burglary. Jeers go to anybody who views a time of crisis for others as an opportunity to break the law.

Cheers: To law-enforcement training. The Clark County Council has added its formal support to plans for a regional police training site in Vancouver. Currently, Washington has one training facility for all officers — in Burien, south of Seattle. Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed four regional training centers, and the idea has been greeted with widespread support.

As Clark County Councilor Gary Medvigy said: “Everyone that I’ve spoken to about this topic … sees this as a win-win for the community and law enforcement. There is such a huge chokepoint right now in the academy for all law enforcement across the state.” The Legislature should join the chorus and approve the regional training centers.

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