Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, on Nov. 24, The Seattle Times published an insightful op-ed by state Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-Wenatchee, Ranking Minority member of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee. The Seattle Times maintains a Comments Section to “encourage constructive conversations about the facts in our articles.” The paper keeps the comments section open for 72 hours to allow this discussion.
I submitted a comment that agreed with Sen. Hawkins’ point that academics is no longer the top priority in public schools, and that it shows. The Seattle Times published my comment, which can be read here.
An hour or two later, I sent a second comment as part of an ongoing discussion. This time, a Seattle Times staffer sent me this message:
“Your commented has been submitted and will be reviewed by a moderator.”
I never heard from the moderator. Instead, my comment was censored.
If it had not been censored, this is what Seattle Times readers would have seen:
“The way to make academics a priority is to give parents a portion of their education funding so they can pay tuition at a private school. After all, Sweden allows families to get public aid to send their children to private schools. Families in Sweden see school choice as a right.
“About 14 percent of Swedish elementary school students and 30 percent of high school students attend private or independently run schools. If Sweden can have school choice, why not Washington state?”
Meanwhile, other readers were allowed to post comments more than once.
It seems The Seattle Times doesn’t want readers to see opinions about school choice.
Yet school choice is the hottest topic in school reform in the nation. One in five students now has access to public aid to attend a private school if their parents think that is the best fit for them. In the two years since the COVID school shutdowns, caring lawmakers in the 10 states of West Virginia, Arizona, Iowa, Utah, Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio, Indiana, Arkansas and North Carolina have passed Universal School Choice programs.
Our democracy depends on the free exchange of ideas. By its nature, censorship is based on fear: whoever is censoring doesn’t want people to see certain ideas. Still, suppressing debate does not make new ideas go away. If anything, it makes people even more motivated to find out what they are not supposed to see.