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Published: Wednesday, 12/6/2000

Proficiency tests benefit kids - all kids

Under the guise of doing it “for the kids,” a 33-person study committee wants to scrap the proficiency tests. This “committee” fronts for school boards, teachers, administrators, and unions who are beginning to feel the pressure as the whole state comes under a single measuring standard, which then becomes public record. They know that the tests weren't just designed to evaluate the kids.

The recent study in The Blade, using proficiency results with other available statistics, demonstrates that, used properly, benchmark numbers can validate problems, and justify solutions within a school district or the state.

That's also for the kids - all the kids. For their own purpose, the committee suggests a retro-style mish-mash of apples-and-oranges tests that defy comparison, never having to admit how much fruit salad is being generated. That puts your local school record back under cover. How does that benefit the kids?

Examined broadly, the current tests show where problems exist, and with suitable evaluation, to some extent why. All tests, given in the same year, present a wider and more pertinent view of the class. Important: The results are public. If required, a solution becomes a public charge.

The current tests may need fine tuning. The legislature may be wrong in its demand on fourth-grade readers. Still, if classes in fourth grade are not minimally proficient, something needs to be done right now in the first, second, and third grades, while they're busy creating patches for the fourth. That's something for all the kids. And it's focusing education money wisely.

Stay with proficiency testing. Then it's all benchmarked. And, most important, it's out in public. That's where things get done - for the kids.

ROBERT L. FAISON

Sylvania

I am compelled to respond to the writer complaining about benefits of a UAW contract at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center:

The “much publicized bonus of $700” was never publicized or promised by the UAW. The collective bargaining agreement won a $200 lump sum payment to “fill a gap” until the first increment of a total 11.4 per cent wage increase package would be implemented. The $700 was, in fact, publicized in error.

The labor agreement covers all employees, including those working “nine-hours-per-day.” The gap to which the writer is alluding is another example of the corporate trickery that makes a labor union necessary, and is not a resolved issue. The UAW is working hard to encourage management to live up to the spirit of the negotiations.

No one can stop corporate management from passing on hard-fought union benefits and wage increases to as yet unorganized hospitals. Management is eager to stop the positive wave of unionization flowing in this community. Let's face it, though, without the UAW, none of us would have these benefits and, in an unorganized hospital, they can be snatched away as quickly as they were passed out.

As an “organized nurse,” I am happy to be starting the new year with an effective grievance procedure, a pension increase, improved wages and benefits, and a voice with which to improve patient care.

CATHERINE BOOHER

Perrysburg

Margaret and Gabriel Nmah's story is doubly tragic: First their native Liberia is divided by civil war, then their family is divided by immigration laws that seem bureaucratic, arbitrary, and cruel.

This young couple fled danger and oppression in their country to build a better life here. They got jobs and worked hard to create a home expecting that their son, Francis, would join them. But the INS slammed the door shut.

Our immigration laws serve a purpose, but in this case they are unreasonable. Francis, now 9, will be allowed to join his parents here when they become citizens in four years. It is pointless to keep the family apart in the meantime.

I pray the INS will listen to Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Sens. George Voinovich and Michael DeWine and reconsider the Nhams' case for humanitarian reasons. The situation in which Francis lives is volatile and he has already witnessed violence that no child should be subjected to.

It was heartbreaking to read Margaret's comment that her predicament makes her feel like a bad mother. Anyone who has ever seen her and Gabriel with their daughter D.D. knows that is not true.

My own 13-year-old daughter, who adores Margaret, can't understand why our government won't allow her son to be here with her. Perhaps someone at INS can explain it to her - and to me.

SCOTT CARPENTER

Oregon

I have been disappointed by the actions of Gov. George W. Bush since the Nov. 7 election.

A major Bush campaign theme was that Mr. Bush would be a “unifier” if elected president. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush and his subordinates have been more divisive than presidential.

Mr. Bush also campaigned on the theme that he would restore “honor and dignity” to the White House. However, it appears that he is more interested in winning the election at all costs than the manner in which he wins. He should insist, for the good of the country, that all Florida votes be counted. Unfortunately for the country, his Florida campaign co-chairman, Katherine Harris, was only concerned with certifying Mr. Bush as the winner rather than ensuring that a full and accurate count of all of the ballots is completed.

Mr. Bush claims victory based on a flawed and partisan electoral process. His victory in the Electoral College will occur by receiving disputed electors from a state governed by his brother. Such a victory, considering Mr. Bush lost the nationwide popular vote, is a hollow victory indeed.

Excuse me for being just a bit cynical, but if Mr. Bush is inaugurated as our next president under these circumstances, he will forever be regarded as an illegitimate president.

MICHAEL DANSACK

Oregon

So Bill Clinton says, “America will be embarrassed in front of the world if the votes are not counted.” Since when did Mr. Clinton become concerned about how America looks in the eyes of the world? How dare he suggest that we would be “embarrassed in front of the world” over this issue, when for a time, his own lack of personal self-control made us the laughingstock of the world! Before he makes any more inane statements such as this, he better take a long look in the mirror.

CHERYL KLUEBER

Whitehouse



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