Today's Letters: Walk shouldn't hinge on FCAT

Published May 1, 2007

Commencement is for students who earn it April 29 editorial

I totally disagree with your opinion of the FCAT as the determining factor for whether a 17- or 18-year-old can walk across the stage for the graduation ceremony. Both my children have been through the public school system in Pasco and both have graduated. However, I have had both ends of the spectrum in experience with the FCAT. My son passed the FCAT his first time.

Then there is my daughter, who graduated last year. She had to work for every grade, and she worked very hard. She was in a couple of honors classes but she worked hard for every step she took. She met the criteria for credits and GPA. She took the FCAT and was not successful. She took the GED and it was a week before graduation and the test scores were lost in Tallahassee; the FCAT scores also had a glitch and were delayed. We were frantic; she worked hard for all her grades and deserved to walk across the stage with her peers. She was not a goof-off, or someone who tried to get by with little or no effort. And one test, just one test was stopping her from celebrating her 12 years of hard work.

After she did not pass the first time she did go for the extra help in school, numerous times. I obtained tutoring for her and she was still not successful. The GED result made it to the school just prior to graduation and she passed and was able to celebrate with her family and friends. Then the FCAT results came shortly after graduation and she also passed the last test.

There are people who do not test well, who freeze or are not good test takers. This one test is saying that if you work hard for your grades and attend class and do the work and participate in school activities and play by the rules, it doesn't matter. In the over 2.0 GPA there are successes and there are failures and you learn from your failures and hopefully improve.

These kids are not doing less and you are not watering down the graduation ceremony if the child who has not passed one test walks across the stage. They have met the minimum requirement for GPA and number of credits required to graduate. Do not be absurd.

Oh, and Mr. Editor, I would love to see your complete score on the FCAT.

You run a newspaper, so the two sections of English and math should not be a problem, right? What if your job depended on your score, since I would think both sections are relevant to the success of the newspaper? You pass the test you keep your job, you fail the test, you lose.

Linda Rodriguez, New Port Richey


Students have earned grad walk

Several of your readers are assuming that all the students who currently walk during the ceremony have passed the FCAT and have all met the same requirements. This is not true.

Some ESE (special education) students who do not pass the test get a waiver of the FCAT requirement, have had modifications to their curriculum, and yet they get to walk upon graduation. They also receive a diploma that says they met the requirements.

However, ESOL (foreign language) students who have been here a short time and have not passed the FCAT, because of inadequate language fluency, do not get to walk despite the fact that they have met all the other requirements.

Why not allow those ESOL students to walk as well?

Additionally, since we have continuous progress at the elementary level, which assumes that students all learn at different rates, then does that not also apply to upper grades?

Perhaps, given a few more years, those 60 students who did not pass the FCAT might easily pass the entrance tests to community college.

Alternatively, if some of them could afford a private school education, then they could have easily gone to one and never take an FCAT and then graduate with a valid diploma, rather than certificate of completion. The requirements that your readers refer to are only for a public school education. There are already exceptions to the rule.

Whether they receive a diploma or a certificate of completion, they should all be allowed to walk with their peers. They have earned it!

This event is a right of passage in our society, and once that time has come, it can never again be relived.

Tess Jordan, New Port Richey


Suspension was responsible move 

Tolerating bullies brings more grief April 27 letter

It is obvious to any intelligent person that principal Rick Mellin and assistant principal Joanne Glenn learned a great deal from Columbine and Virginia Tech.

Suspending a student for a threatening note is appropriate considering what the student's next action might be. The note is a warning sign that the student is disturbed and that a violent act might be next. If suspending and/or expelling the students who committed the violence at Columbine and Virginia Tech had been accomplished would the mass murders have occurred?

The letter writer would be the first and loudest to protest if the shoe was on the other foot and the student he is so concerned about was the victim of a mass murder.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Kudos to Mellin and Glenn for their ounce of prevention.

Andy Taylor, New Port Richey


Gee, wonder who spawned sprawl 

Developers want best for county April 30 letter

What is the world coming to? I never thought I would see the day when the Pasco Building Association would feel so guilty about the mess their members have made of Pasco County that they would resort to pointing the finger at the county commissioners, as if to say the devil made us do it.

The citizens are fed up with the sprawl. Now, for some strange reason, the developers themselves feel the need to confess that they can't control themselves without some tough love from their regulators.

I hope the fab five are paying attention. Maybe the next time they have a chance to vote on another unneeded and ill-conceived development, they will remember this accusation from the development community and just say no. But my intuition tells me that won't happen; this is just another iteration of good cop, bad cop, which will become all too apparent when the builders again line up to fill the campaign coffers of their so-called enablers.

Steve Byle, Leisure Beach