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Lynn M. Stuter
February 14, 2003

Early in the 2003 Legislative Session, House Bill 1658 was introduced in the Washington Legislature, tying proficiency on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning - the WASL - to the driver license. According to the bill, a student who does not show proficiency on the WASL will not be able to obtain a driver license.

We of Washington state have to ask, "Is the Washington Legislature on to something here that the rest of us have missed? Are they maybe thinking along the lines of replacing the WASL with the driver exam and driving test or assessment?"

Crazy, you say? Maybe! But then again, maybe not.

According to ESHB1209, laws of 1993, the four goals of education reform in the State of Washington are:

Goal I: Read with comprehension, write with skill and communicate effectively and responsibly in a variety of ways and settings.

Goal II: Know and apply the core concepts and principles of mathematics; social, physical, and life sciences; civics and history; geography; arts; and, health and fitness.

Goal III: Think analytically, logically, and creatively, and to integrate experience and knowledge to form reasoned judgments and solve problems.

Goal IV: Understand the importance of work and how performance, effort, and decisions directly affect career and education opportunities.

Now, let's use our critical, creative, logical and analytical thinking skills.

To take the written portion-the driver exam, doesn't one have to read with comprehension and write with skill? How else would one get through the test? Can't read, won't pass the test, no driver license!

In order to take the driving portion of the test, doesn't one have to be able to communicate effectively and responsibly in a variety of ways and settings? How else can you talk to that guy sitting in the passenger seat clutching his clipboard in a death grip as you fly merrily along, wheels barely touching the ground, whipping around corners, racing down streets with abandon, using the squeal tires on pavement (STOP) principle when traffic lights turn yellow, in general, impressing upon the guy next to you your newfound skills as a driver?

And when it comes to communicating effectively, what better way to demonstrate proficiency than when explaining to the nice traffic cop why you were doing 40 mph in a 20 mph zone and begging him not to give you that ticket your quick mathematical calculations tell you will cost you more than the current balance in your checkbook.

Speaking of mathematics, how better to demonstrate mastery of mathematical skills than when following another vehicle and calculating speed and distance required to keep your vehicle from becoming hopelessly entangled with the vehicle in front of you in a crisis stop situation? Or couldn't one demonstrate mastery by calculating at what speed one could safely negotiate a curve so centrifugal force doesn't send one flying like a jet catapulting off the deck of an aircraft carrier?

And if the goal is to refrain from running over pedestrians, other drivers or vehicles; driving across grass that grows by the inch and dies by the tire; introducing either bumper to telephone poles and trees; or entering a demolition derby with structures bigger and more solid than one's vehicle, doesn't one need to understand the concepts of social, physical and life sciences, art, civics and history, and geography?

Let's face it, folks, if the purpose is to think analytically, logically, and creatively, and to integrate experience and knowledge to form reasoned judgments and solve problems, to demonstrate health and fitness, is there any better tools to do that with than the steering wheel, brake and accelerator?

As for the last goal, how better to understand the importance of work and how performance, effort, and decisions directly affect career and education opportunities than to take the driving test and driver exam? If you fail, don't worry, be happy! If you can't drive, you can't work, and if you can't work, the state will have to take care of you and provide for you. Pass or fail really makes no difference; either way this represents the win-win situation you've learned about from the total quality people.

Maybe what our legislators are up to, introducing this bill, has potential we didn't realize at first glance.

Just think, if HB1658 passes, we can dispense with the WASL, all the headache it's causing, and all the money it's costing. After all, the driving test and driver exam covers everything the human resource needs to know and be able to do.

Think of the billions of dollars the taxpayers will save. We can dispense with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, everything can be turned over to the department of licensing. That alone will save millions in salaries and benefits.

We can sell the school buildings and equipment, which will generate billions in new revenue. Not having to pay support personnel means that money can go back in the pot. Then, too, we won't have to buy anymore textbooks, or supplies and materials like glue, paper clips, workbooks, copy paper ... We can retrain all the teachers to become driver education instructors, put them in a car with three potential human resources, and by the time they are 16 years of age, the human resources will have demonstrated the required proficiency to meet all the goals. Since education makes up almost half the state budget appropriations, Washington's budgetary woes will be cured with one stroke of Gary Locke's pen.

And just think, if the concern is that children can't read, no big deal! After all, the legislators apparently can't read either - many signed on to sponsor this bill and haven't a clue what it says!

2003 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved



Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education.  She home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own.  She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform.  She networks nation-wide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation.  She has traveled the United States and lived overseas. Web site:   E-Mail: