Letters to the editor Monday (3-24-2014)
Too much emphasis on standardized testing
End-of-grade testing is a standardized test administered in the school system to test what students have learned throughout the school year. I object to standardize testing because a student’s performance should not be based on a single test alone; it only serves as one valid measure of what the student has learned or how well the teachers have taught the curriculum.
Standardized tests are used in isolation and are not the best evidence of performance. Some students may be very smart but have test anxiety. Given the opportunity to show what has been learned in a hands-on manner, many students who fail traditional tests positively demonstrate they have mastered the concepts.
Many tests are often skewed. There are many factors that affect or intervene when an evaluation is based on a single test given in a small testing window in specific grades. A competent student can be denied a diploma solely due to performance on a single test. Students who are not present in school during the limited testing window, or who have a disability, may miss or not perform well on their one-shot test.
Finally, standardized testing can be wrongfully used as fuel for those with a political agenda. Education is a very hot topic in the political arena. Far too often, politicians advocate to change or make standardized testing mandatory in all schools.
Standardized test scores are often looked at as the end-all for students and school success. This shouldn’t be so. Many would argue that those politicians who try to use standardized test scores as a means to further political agendas are ignorant in their knowledge of what education and learning are truly about.
— Robert E. Lee Jr.
Buildings aren’t answer
A new school building will not create better education. Learning is about desire, not surroundings. The most cruel thing you can do is lead someone to believe they have education and preparation they don’t have. Those in favor of a new building apparently did not go to college or a university. If they had, they would remember having classes in buildings 50 to 100 years old. They would also know if they complained they would be told to like it or leave it. It’s the same old same old. If you don’t know how to fix something, just spend somebody else’s money on it.
— Delmar McDaniel
About those plaza plans
Just some thoughts on the recent article about the county’s plans for West End Plaza:
In the article, the county manager said he’s already working with an architect on a couple projects. I’m wondering if this architect is ‘pro bono’? I kind of doubt it.
He stated that the Elections Office will be moved to a 9,000-square-foot facility. When I called the county’s HR Department, they told me that there were four full-time employees in the Elections Office. I know it doesn’t work out quite this way — however, that is 2,250 square feet per employee. My house isn’t that big.
The article also mentioned the Veterans Services office would be relocated to the former location of Kay Jewelers and will consist of a lounge and three offices for the current two employees. Called the county manager, haven’t heard back. Who knows about the square footage there, eh?
— John Blair
Tax/tag bill glitches
I received my vehicle tax and tag renewal bill in the mail this past week. The bill had us in the city of Salisbury, plus the county, plus $10. I live on Webb Road in the county, in the Bostian Heights Fire district. I called up to the tax assessor’s office to find out why my bill was incorrect. I spoke with a very nice lady who told me that there was a glitch in the system. It took her a few minutes, but she corrected the bill while I waited. When I looked at another tax/tag bill I was going to pay that day, I happened to notice that it had us in the South Salisbury Fire District. She fixed this bill as well.
My problem is that some people will open the bill, get their car inspected and go to the NCDMV office to pay for the tax and tag, all the while not looking at the bill to see if it is correct. There was a difference of $80 in my bill once it was corrected. If there is a “glitch” in the system, shouldn’t the county fix it before mailing any more bills out? I fear for the elderly who may pay these bills and not knowing what they are paying. If this happens, is the money refunded? Is this how the county plans to buy the mall? Fix the glitch!
— Debbie Bradshaw
A family of individuals
A couple of recent letters to the editor caught my attention.
One was a reminder of the March 31 deadline to sign up for health insurance. That letter also spoke of Republicans being the party of “personal responsibility and every man for themselves” for years. The second letter spoke of the GOP no longer being the party of Lincoln, in large part because of its lack of charity. Between these two letters, I felt like I was reading an old copy of Newsweek.
Taking the second letter first, contrary to public hype, Republicans don’t hate the poor, the elderly, minorities, gays and the environment. What they hate is big-government waste and inefficiency. I’m glad they’re the part of “no” because much of what Obama proposes does not warrant a “yes.”
As for the first letter, yes to personal responsibility and no to every man for himself. There was a time when this country valued the individual. There was a time when we valued boldness and risk-taking so we could improve our lives and subsequently the lives of others. Today, individualism is associated with selfishness and taking risk with greed. And all of this is being replaced with a sense of entitlement. This is a recipe for mediocrity.
Last Thanksgiving, our president spoke of our nation as being one “American family” and that we are “greater together than on our own.” This is warm and fuzzy nonsense that has too much of the “it takes a village” mentality for me. I contend we are a nation of individuals, and when individuals succeed (through lawful means), the whole becomes satisfied.
A new mindset is in order. We need a little less “one size fits all” and a little more “looking out for No. 1.”
— Allan Gilmour