Letters to the editor
David P. Gossett’s letter Jan. 22 about the CSAP practice question has, unwittingly, pointed out the problem with the CSAP test.
Neither the practice question nor the test, for that matter, were created by a “self-serving, narrow-minded teacher.” In fact, they were created by McGraw Hill at the direction of Gov. Owens at the behest of an unfunded mandate by President Bush to test every child each year. “No Child Left Behind” might serve as a charge to bus drivers, as well as educators!
Your criticism of the test question is largely correct. Your “hard-earned tax dollars” are paying the salary of the person who came up with that question and that person is not a teacher, does not live in Colorado, and does not work for the school district or even the state. They are not even, to borrow your phrase, a “so-called educator.”
Your local public schools, by the way, are judged on the basis of this one discredited test on a school report card that in its first year was riddled with errors across the state. Private and parochial schools have opted out of this test, as no college has ever asked to see the results.
The results of the testing mainly serve to reveal the demographics of a particular school and not its pedagogy. Perhaps you could write the governor and point out the shortcomings of his test.
There is a set of tests written and, importantly, scored by educators. That is the Advanced Placement tests given each May by the College Board. Many of our students and their families see the merit in these exams and elect to pay their own fees to take them.
We have many students who strive each year to score well on these tests and earn admission to elite colleges and
universities across this country. All this happens on a voluntary basis because the students see value in the curriculum, the instruction and the outcomes of these exams.
All of this occurs, incidentally, without any mandate from the government. In regards to your cheap shot at the end of the letter about teachers “expecting raises,” the record needs to be set straight.
Many conservatives believe in local control on matters of education. In November of 2001 the voters of Eagle County, by a nearly 20 percent margin, approved a school bond issue. Part of this bond provided for a cost of living increase for Eagle County School District employees, not just teachers.
This has been put on hold for nearly a year by a local resident who is pursuing a lawsuit regarding the constitutionality of the ballot question. Imagine if the school district had lost by a 20 percent margin and then tried to overturn the result in court! It would be an outrage!
I challenge Mr. Gossett and the proponents of this lawsuit to drop the harsh rhetoric and engage in civil discourse. There is bitterness in much of your writing and actions.
Follow the lead of the mayor of Avon, who recently donated a portion of his salary to fund a scholarship for students at Battle Mountain High School, and do something positive for your community.
There are countless ways your skills could be utilized. Perhaps you could develop a lesson on geothermal energy! There is no shame in public service, nor should there ever be.
We teach, drive buses, serve lunches, work as secretaries, coach sports, direct plays and sometimes write tests because we are passionate about our jobs.
Vindictive letters and petty lawsuits are merely one more obstacle; we overcome larger ones on a daily basis. I invite you to spend a week with me, Mr. Gossett. A wise man (two of his sons graduated from Battle Mountain High School and Notre Dame) once told me to walk a mile in another man’s shoes before criticizing him. That way, he said, you are a mile away and you have his shoes!