Letter - Give Walla Walla students a level playing field

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My wife and I moved to Walla Walla in 1959 because we both had good job offers. I had been hired to teach math and coach for Walla Walla Public Schools. We planned to stay two or three years and then move back to the Westside.

Two years soon became three then five and then we realized we found someplace special to live and raise a family. We had chances to move, but the grass was never greener than it was in Walla Walla.

People here were friendly and we felt there was a lot of pride and community spirit. Walla Walla pulled together and got things done.

In 1963, we moved into the new high school at Fern Avenue and Abbott Road. I had a brand new classroom with new desks, chalkboards actually attached to the walls, an intercom and three electrical outlets. I can still remember the day a student brought a hand-held calculator to class and I had to decide how to deal with this new technology.

That was 51 years ago.

When I visit the science building today where I taught mathematics, and specifically the labs, it reminds me of a science museum of the history of how science used to be taught. There is some new stand-alone equipment, but for the most part the only thing that has changed about the classrooms is they are worn out, outdated and undersized for the current curriculum.

Some teachers and their students do not even have access to a lab and so the teacher does all the demonstrations with no hands-on for the students.

During my time as a district administrator, I went by the premise that the Walla Walla students deserved at least the same opportunities as the students in other schools. When I had a request for funding, I many times went to other communities to compare facilities and equipment.

I frequently took pictures so we could compare them to what we had and determine the need. I wish the Walla Walla registered voters could take a virtual tour of the science facilities in other communities and then tour our science building. I am certain you would be embarrassed.

It is now time for Walla Walla to pull together again and get this job done. I think the district has listened to the community and the science building bond is in the comfort zone for our voters.

One way to look at it is a couple of less specialties coffees, a six pack or a movie a month will be more than enough to cover the tax increase for a new science building. Let’s level the playing field and give our students the same opportunity as students in other communities.

Bill Bieloh

Walla Walla

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