Re "School Cuts Must Be Deft," editorial, Jan. 4: While most of your recommendations are worthy, including getting rid of nonessential testing, you target the wrong tests for elimination. The Golden State and high school exit exams are criterion-referenced, meaning they measure students' knowledge of certain criteria: subject matter curricula and the state standards. In theory, with good teaching and hard work, all students can do well enough to pass.
By contrast, the Stanford 9 and its replacement are norm-referenced, meaning that half of all students will always fall below the median. Norm-referenced tests are designed to measure students against each other, making them unsuitable for an exit exam. If the state wants to save money, it can eliminate norm-referenced tests. Give one two-day exit test and junk the rest.
Glenna M. Dumey
Continuation High School
Ordering schools to cut their budgets without relaxing state mandates is one of the most misguided moves Gov. Gray Davis has ever made. During the energy crisis the governor somehow found the money to keep the lights on in California, but schools now must contemplate shutting down, shortening the school year, effectively teaching less, in order to save money.
We cannot allow the light of public education to dim. Fewer rules means fewer individuals needed to administrate those rules. It's a place to start.
Santa Monica High School
Why is it that teachers' salaries are always the first subject mentioned when there is a budget crisis? Your editorial suggested one less day on the school calendar so money could be saved by paying teachers for one less workday. The public school system is already supported on the backs of teachers who purchase books and supplies, and yet we continue to read of simple solutions like the suggestion of paying teachers for one less workday.
Please be more creative and leave those of us on the front lines alone. That includes classroom aides, custodians and other support personnel who work on the front lines just like teachers. Why do you think any of us can live on less than we make today?