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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


September 20, 2003 - Issue 96


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Eager for School

by Eric Stevick Herald Writer
credits: Photos by Dan Bates/The Herald

School BusTULALIP -- As the second week of a teachers strike unfolds in Marysville, some families and students are searching for an academic booster shot.

New youngsters have started showing up at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club education center, where they can take computerized reading tests, get help with math or do arts and crafts.

Some parents have been looking for workbooks at local stores to sharpen their children's skills during the extended summer break. The 11,000-student district's teachers have been on strike since Sept. 2. Both sides were expected to be in contract talks with a state mediator today.

The Tulalip Tribes have sunk $30,000 into providing meals and academic help for students who are out of school because of the strike. The money will cover about three weeks, and the tribes will invest more if need be, said Stan Jones Sr., vice chairman of the tribes.

The free classes opened to the public on Monday.

"We don't want the kids to get further behind," Jones said.

Most of the students on hand Tuesday live on the Tulalip Reservation and are regulars at the Boys and Girls Club. Others come from Marysville.

Nicole Jones, 13, who will be an eighth-grader at Marysville Junior High, spent 45 minutes Tuesday showing addition, subtraction and multiplication flash cards to her neighbor, Kami Killian, 8, who will be a third-grader at Kellogg Marsh Elementary when school opens.

"I told her about how they were having school here because the teachers are on strike, and she was interested and wanted to come with us," Jones said.

As he picked up Kami and his own three children Tuesday, Nicole's dad, Leon Enick, said he was thankful the tribes opened the education center .

"When I heard about it, I said, 'Get the kids, get them ready, get them down there.' Even if they are not going to be in school, they are going to be doing some learning," he said.

Chuck Thacker, director of the education center, said roughly 40 new students showed up Tuesday. If attendance continues to grow, students will be broken into groups based on their grade level for more individualized instruction, he said.

Mark Hale, a striking teacher from Tulalip Elementary School, stopped by to volunteer for a while Tuesday. He was glad to see the children learning while contract negotiations continue.

"This is great," he said. "The tribe is always right there when there is a need for kids."

Tanner Paul, a second-grader at Quil Ceda Elementary School, spent part of his afternoon studying geography with a computer game. He set a personal record, pointing a stylus correctly on eight randomly named states in 42 seconds.

"When I started, I would only get two," he said.

Some parents aren't necessarily looking for a classroom setting -- just age-appropriate schoolwork.

In downtown Marysville, Mary Burns of Bookworks has been doing a brisk business with families looking for workbooks for their preschool through sixth-grade children in recent days. High school students have come in with lists of books they may be reading this year.

"The older ones are trying to get started now so they don't get behind," she said.

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