Deb Brumley

Deb Brumley

As the granddaughter of tough Kansas stock, and a long line of farmers, dairy people and social worker type helpers, I was always proud to hear the story of my role model grandma, Laura Pearl, who not only received her teaching certificate following high school, but she went on, decades later to earn her LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) degree.

Women in the 1910s who did this type of out of the home training were rare. Even more so, after raising eight children while helping Grandpa Walter operate the family farm and the ranch on Eckler Mountain, outside Dayton, WA.

Gram was all set, once the wax was dried on her teaching certificate. There was the proverbial one room schoolhouse ready for her outside of Dayton, a coal stove, a handful of multi-grade books, and a big box of chalk.

Gram said she didn’t need much more than that, to get her students educated.

Consider now, the college graduate, on fire to teach, who needs not only a four-year degree, but more often a master’s degree to be competitive in job market. Holding these credentials might open some doors, but often not the desired doors – wages in many small-town school districts cannot compete with starting wages in nearby, more urban school districts.

Not good news for smaller school districts. Small districts may be mighty in most ways: outstanding leadership, strong support for levies (another story), great partnerships with parents and business community, low crime, high resources, and yet – the jobs lay empty until the larger schools have filled their slots.

Not good news for graduates or for school leadership needing the hiring roster full and ready to start orientations.

In other, not good news, Washington State school districts are still trying to creatively backfill key lost positions such as school counselor, when the McCleary decision limited local support levies.

Teacher positions under the decision were hemorrhaged.

Consider the formative people in your life. There’s a very good chance one of them is a Laura Pearl or a Bob Smith, who had the ability to teach when and where she/he wanted to, following college.

Not so much anymore. Teachers have families, have bills, while still having ties to their hometowns.

Money is the bottom line here and for a profession built on passion for learning and greater good for all people, it’s a totally foreign and unforeseen world educators and leadership find themselves still, and may I say again, still, navigating. It’s time for some good news for educators and education. Period.

Deb Brumley can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 114 or email

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