Morning Fizz

SDOT Gets It on Student Transit Rights, Superintendent Candidate Struggles on Student Trans Rights

Transit for low-income students, transit for the region, and "murky" answers on transgender rights.

By Josh Feit August 31, 2016

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1. Dear God, here's a report on yesterday’s Trump rally in Everett.

2. School starts in a week, next Wednesday, September 7, and thanks to 2014's  $45 million Seattle-only Metro measure, the Seattle Department of Transportation is offering 3,000 ORCA cards to low-income students who aren’t eligible for the cards from Seattle Public Schools; SPS only offers the cards to students who liver further than two miles from their designated schools.

The SDOT “Youth Orca Program,” funded with $1 million from last year’s levy and issued on a first-come-first-serve basis, is available only for low-income students who live within a two-mile walkshed of the school.

Before you start with.. “When I was a kid, I walked...," please check out a map showing the walksheds.

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The income eligibility guidelines are as follows:

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3. The diligent Seattle Transit Blog came out with its endorsement of Sound Transit’s November ballot measure yesterday; ST3 is a $54 billion mass transit project that would expand light rail North to Everett, South to Tacoma, East to Redmond and Issaquah, while adding two light rail lines (and a second tunnel) within Seattle.

 The STB editorial goes to great lengths to address detractors of light rail who favor buses (bolds are STB's):

The path to true reliability is always to take the right-of-way, or even better to create it. In our current political climate, that means light rail.

Rail detractors will say that buses are much cheaper than rail, and can be just as good. Both are true, but they are mutually exclusive. Rail is expensive because it has its own guideways, and buses with their own guideways would be similarly expensive.

There is one exception where bus guideways already exist: our freeway system. Unfortunately, these are mostly controlled by our state legislature, which has shown no interest in holding even one freeway lane open for transit. And thus our freeway “express” buses are mired in mixed traffic just as bad as some arterials, and getting worse. Furthermore, transit tied to freeways, while valuable for some applications, can neither serve nor induce the truly dense and walkable neighborhoods the region needs, without significant investment in station areas that is inconsistent with low-cost BRT.

And for those that are stuck on cars (including driverless cars), there’s this...bolds and italics STB's:

But most importantly, transit scales with growth far better than autos, for the simple fact that each person takes up less space on a transit vehicle than in a personal vehicle. No breakthrough in electric or self-driving cars is going to change this fact of geometry. There is no plausible car-first future. The world’s great cities are dense, and they all realize that high-capacity, traffic-separated transit is the only thing that can work at those scales.

 Meanwhile, The ST3 campaign provided additional reason to support the measure.

Hyping data yesterday from the state's Office of Financial Management, the campaign sent out a press release noting: "According to models developed by the Washington State Office of Financial Management, Regional Proposition 1 would support over 78,000 direct jobs and more than 144,000 indirect jobs over the 25-year period of construction."

4. Speaking of endorsements, the influential Stranger reversed course yesterday, taking back its original endorsement for assistant state superintendent Erin Jones in this year's race for state Superintendent of Public Instruction. The alt weekly  is now endorsing Democratic state representative Chris Reykdal (D-22, Tumwater), the vice chair of the house education committee, instead.  

The Stranger switched its endorsement because of Jones's conservative answers to questions about LGBTQ rights. Jones  for example, has said that teaching "transgenderism" (a right wing term that Jones failed to challenge) is "inappropriate" and that sexual identity is a choice.

Trans rights, of course, are a pressing issue in public schools right now as the courts take up challenges to trans students' rights to use the bathroom that fits their gender identity.

Jones responded with an open letter on her Facebook campaign page yesterday, saying: 

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I have work to do as a person and professional to align my language with my lived values. I recognize and regret using overly equivocal wording on issues related to the LGBTQ community that has let friends and supporters down. I am sorry that I used language that could be too easily interpreted as murky.

I have been asked over the course of this campaign if I think being LGBTQ is a choice. NO. I do not believe one has a choice in the matter of sexual orientation or gender identity, just as a person has no choice as to what color they will be or what blood type they will have. I also believe we should teach the most accurate, compassionate and open-hearted curriculum in our schools to help support every child, including age-appropriate instruction about sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

In my answers to the SW Washington Blog and some of my responses to the Stranger, I made mistakes. As a leader, I have shown true commitment to grow in my understandings of these issues. I have spent hours on the phone talking with friends who are members of the LGBTQ community, allies, experts on sexual health, parents of LGBTQ youth and LGBTQ youth themselves. I plan to continue these conversations long after the campaign has run its course.

Reykdal, a progressive Democrat who has the sole endorsement of the state teachers' union in the race, the Washington Education Association, came in second to Jones in this month's top-two primary, getting 20.95 percent to Jones's 25.76 percent.

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