Letters to the Editor: April 30, 2014 

Testing doesn’t work

H.L. Menken once wrote that “for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.” This is most certainly the case with the Reading Sufficiency Act that mandates retention in the third grade for students scoring an unsatisfactory on the reading test.

In her promotion of the law, Janet Barresi sites the success of an identical law implemented in Florida. She neglected to mention that a Harvard study of the Florida’s law found that there while there was, not surprisingly, an increase in test scores for fourth-grade students, the effect faded after five years.

The study did note that there were fewer retentions in subsequent years, but that, in and of itself, is hardly proof of success. Numerous studies have demonstrated that children retained in early grades are much more likely to drop out than their peers. School officials are also apprehensive about retaining more than once. The problem of having 13- and 14-year-old boys in class with 11-year-old girls should be apparent.

The solution in Oklahoma has been to cut funding, increase class sizes and threaten teachers in poorly performing schools with their jobs. And if that isn’t enough, the state will now go after the kids and punish them. This will not attract teachers to the profession, nor will it provide the nurturing and encouragement that poorly performing children need to keep them in school.

I taught for a long time, and I think it’s safe to say that you can put any idiot up in front of a class of kids whose parents are professionals and their kids will do well on tests. Kids from less privileged backgrounds need tough, dedicated teachers who work a lot harder for a less satisfactory result.

I spent years working in difficult school environments, and I have nothing but the highest regard for most of my colleagues in thoseschools. Therealityisthatmanyof them leave for easier jobs in cushier schools out of an instinct for self-preservation.

The Reading Sufficiency Act is, as Menken said, “simple, clear, and (dreadfully) wrong.”

— Mack Paul

Norman

My opinions and facts

Mr. Cal Hobson’s “Opinions and Facts” (Commentary, March 19, Oklahoma Gazette) is another example of the liberal paradigm: The government owns all earnings of all citizens and benevolently allows the peons to keep a small portion. He communicates his “facts” as if they are the solution, but sadly are just the usual: tax, tax, tax.

Fact No. 1 cites diesel and gas “assessments.” They are not “assessments,” but are taxes, which have not been raised since 1985. To Americans, that is a good thing. Fact No. 2 bemoans that our Legislature won’t pass a tax increase and that Governor Fallin would veto it if they did. That is a great thing.

Fact No. 3 questions what our leaders will do to address the current budget shortfall. This may come as a shock, but I suspect they will act like leaders and find solutions.

Maybe there should be a commission consisting of entrepreneurs who are struggling to make payroll and still have enough left over to feed their kids, housewives that squeeze and stretch their household budget to cover everything, maybe a couple of retired folks on a fixed income trying to figure out how to pay for all of your social engineering balderdash and a couple of college folks working part-time to cover their rising tuition so the tenured professors can get six-figure incomes for writing papers that no one reads. Just a guess on my part, but I bet that that group would have no problem cutting the budget and still be able to cover all essential services.

— Pete Lepo

Edmond

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Mack Paul

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