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Letters to the Editors

Test opponents have ways to seek changes

© St. Petersburg Times
published May 31, 2002

Editor: I am a long-time opponent of high stakes testing. Tests such as the FCAT, SAT, CLAST and the state's graduation exam are neither reliable measures of what a student has learned nor of what the student's capabilities are. Numerous studies have demonstrated that performance on such tests are not even reliable indicators of performance in college, as many of the abilities required for success in college cannot be measured by any test given on a single day. As a student who scored in the top 1 percent on his SAT exam but once dropped out of college after a couple years, I can attest to the myriad qualities required for success not on the exam.

However, I am appalled at the attitudes demonstrated in regard to Pasco's policy of restricting participation in graduation ceremonies to those who have met all of their graduation requirements, including passing the exam.

Imagine the following announcement from the School Board: "Out of fairness, we have decided that football games will no longer be won or lost. All teams will be given points for trying, whether or not they ever reach the goal line. At the end of the game, both teams will hold victory celebrations, and those who didn't play on the team will receive the same trophies as the captain; which by the way, is a position shared equally by all team members."

Now imagine the public outcry. Right-wing fanatics constantly decry a lack of standards in public schools. I wonder how many of them are supporting this "rethinking" of the policy because their offspring are affected?

If people have a problem with the test, they should be protesting the test. They should be writing Gov. Jeb Bush in Tallahassee, voting against test-mad politicians, filing lawsuits demanding access to test materials, supporting groups like the Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform, doing whatever it takes to stop the testing madness -- except making graduation and the accompanying ceremonies meaningless.

If it's "just a ceremony" as one School Board member put it, then why are people so upset about missing it?
-- Brent Yaciw, Wesley Chapel

Kids' language skills are deteriorating

Re: Watch your language: Others certainly will, May 28 guest column.

Editor: I heartily agree with the column by Douglas Spangler. The current usage of language is atrocious. Most of our offspring in high school can't compose a sentence containing a complete thought.

More emphasis should be placed on reading, writing and comprehension. Perhaps we can get more literate usage without using "duh" and "dude."
-- Joseph King, Hudson

Removing guns reduces our security

Editor: Letter writer Arthur Hayhoe keeps bringing up that he is a veteran and wants to stop all people from getting guns. I am also a veteran and believe in my own guns.

He should suggest that all people who agree with him have signs in front of their homes that would read: "No guns in this house now and never will be. No way. No how. No fooling." See how many will do it. Start a trend.

You might be surprised to find the thief, not knowing until now whether you have a gun or not, would have a great sigh of relief. You might save the culprit's life, but your life might be up for grabs. You would remove all doubts while the people who are most vocal, Kennedy and O'Donnell, have armed guards and live in gated or secured areas.

Gun control does not want the average person to defend themselves. The First Amendment gives you the right to speak as you do.

The Second Amendment gives me the right to own guns. Period.
-- Howard and Virginia Freeman, Holiday

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