Re "Seeking a 'Fresh Start,"' Aug. 19: The editorial was a thoughtful commentary on accountability, but three points need to be stressed.
First, the bottom line in testing shows not too surprisingly that the best scores come from upper-middle-class socioeconomic areas with well-educated parents. The only way to change that is to have an exceptionally good Head Start program with well-qualified teachers so that children enter kindergarten on a more equal level.
Second, "teaching to the test" is not a new phenomenon; teachers have always taught to the test, but it was a test the teacher designed. Valid reasons exist to have a state or even federal test to ensure that all our children receive a good education. The flaw here is that when all available time is spent preparing for the test, we do not teach or present a curriculum that is important for the whole child. Many elementary schools no longer have supplementary music, art or physical education teachers.
Third, the emphasis today is that every child will go to college. Every child will not go and should not be working toward college as the ultimate goal.
Every child who is qualified should have the opportunity to attend college; every child who is not qualified should have the opportunity to pursue a different path.
I am not suggesting we pigeonhole children at an early age; many children do not show their ability until high school or later; I am saying that children who want a different path should also have the opportunity to get it.
In our frenzy for universal college education, we have destroyed vocational education to the detriment of those whose talents lie in those areas. Children who want to enter those areas should not feel as if they are second-class citizens.
Each individual should be exposed to and have a knowledge of subjects needed to be considered an educated person, but each person should be encouraged to follow his or her talents.
As a teacher in Santa Ana for eight years, I found your editorial a perfect example of people who have never taught in a classroom using standardized testing as the final judgment for all educational endeavors. While we good soldiers work hard implementing Supt. Al Mijares' insane "Above the Mean" program, there are few teachers who do not see the harm that this "all eggs in one basket" philosophy causes our children.
Your editorial takes the simple way out that so many others do: a total blind faith in one horribly biased test and a lack of effort to question the Stanford 9 test's many flaws and biases.
It is a test in which the norm is middle-class kids who grow up in English-speaking, educated households. Our children in Santa Ana have the problems you spoke of, but they can achieve anything they want, if we stop evaluating their daily victories over poverty and lack of English skills on a test that is unfair to them.
A "fresh start" can be achieved in Santa Ana schools not by threatening dedicated people's jobs, but by taking a stand against a silly, stupid test that does not serve our population, only the goals of politicos and the media.