Letters to the Editor

Tuesday's Letters to the Editor

Testing getting in the way of education

The Friday editorial, "Test-score dip underscores need to end distractions," moved me to share a reason some parents choose private schools over public scores. I have taught at private schools in Louisiana, Massachusetts and Columbia, and some of the top pitches admissions officers use are "We don't waste precious instructional time on test-taking or test preparation" and "We don't teach to the test; we teach the skills and concepts that create successful learners."

I hope one day our public school administrators will wake up and realize that testing children repeatedly may measure the problem, but it does not improve scores. Scores are improved by giving students the time and attention they need to get better at reading, writing and arithmetic. At the private schools where I worked, we were blessed with only one test a year. We had the time to use the test results to improve instruction.

No Child Left Behind has been a misguided approach, especially since it was underfunded. Some of my colleagues call it "No Child Left Untested," but my favorite is "No Teacher Left Standing."

Please support educators who want the time to get to know students, plan relevant lessons and work with children until they master the material they need to know. Public schools need to find a way to rein back the test-taking prep courses, pre-tests, tests and post-tests. The testing industry is doing quite well, but our students receive less instruction every year. How do we expect test scores to improve when teachers have less time to teach?



Sen. Graham sets standard for GOP

On a different matter, Sen. Lindsey Graham seems to be setting a national standard for constructive behavior by a Republican - admittedly not a very hard task but still encouraging. Think of the pride it would bring to South Carolina - sorely needed given Rep. Joe Wilson and Gov. Mark Sanford - if Graham would vote for the "public option." Bipartisanship would cease to be merely a word.



Getting Sanford out trumps all concerns

Cindi Scoppe's Sunday column, "It's time for lawmakers to talk about Mark Sanford," was well considered, and she made a number of valid points. I think, though, her concern for what may follow a resignation or impeachment is wrong-minded.

Sanford has made it clear enough that he intends to circle his wagons and fight - at any cost to the best interest of South Carolina. The notion of a Bauer incumbency chills me to the bone, but this is a matter of principle - and one where the Legislature should demonstrate some non-partisan common sense and guts. I don't know if Sanford's behavior sinks to the level of impeachment, but his continuing in office will only keep South Carolina in paralysis and Jay Leno in freebies.

This is one of those occasions when the consequences of taking appropriate action shouldn't be a distraction. If the Legislature sees an ethics report before November 2010, it should act immediately and let the chips fall. Even if an impeachment effort fails, there would be some reassurance in knowing the elected leadership at least had tried to do the right thing. Given its absence of performance on extended unemployment benefits, that would be a giant leap in the right direction.



First, they came for the doctors ...

So what happens if doctors refuse to participate in Obamacare? If doctors choose not to see Obamacare patients because of increasing red tape, increasing non-physician intervention and less reimbursement, will the government force us to work? Will we be fined, taxed, jailed? What a great incentive for the best and brightest in this country to pursue a medical career.

Wake up, America. This is still a free country. Though for how much longer I am not sure.



The fable of the fire chief revisited

While I enjoyed Roger Owens' metaphoric fable in Monday's paper ("The fable of the fire chief and the dissidents"), that is all it was: a fable. There are only two factions - the one that agrees with the new fire chief and the one that does not.

The chief has proposed getting a new truck that will save many lives but will cost $2 trillion. He says the community's taxes will not be raised to pay for the truck, but no one can possibly believe that.

Firehouses far from our own community need more firefighters, and they are not going to get them. Many of our firefighters have died over the years helping these other communities fight their fires, and the new chief apologizes for our arrogance. He made many promises before he knew all the facts about running a large department. He laid out precise time tables that even his own faction has backed away from.

Mr. Owens tried to paint anyone who disagrees with the new chief with the same old tired brush of racism. There is a small group of fools who are racist, but calling the chief a liar does not make you a racist. It just shows how frustrated some can become when they know that the chief is misstating the facts.

Lastly, there is no traditional faction in charge of this community; it changes hands often. The last fire chief could have stood more support from all of the factions, but he was not from Mr. Owens' faction, now was he?