Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sauce for the gander

High stakes testing

A fellow up in Mount Shasta is right on my wavelength. Legislators are responsible for writing and passing the laws under which we live, but all too often they're inclined to avoid applying those rules to themselves. There's a rule in California, for example, that employees must be paid semi-monthly, but the state government exempts public agencies from this standard. As a result, my colleagues and I get paid once a month because our college is a public school. See how that works?

High school exit exams have become popular in some government circles. I don't think they're necessarily a bad thing, but I worry about their implementation. High stakes tests are risky business and tend to distort school curriculum toward “teaching to the test.” Exit exams are not a magical solution to educational deficiencies, although they may play a role in improving the situation. Still, isn't it marvelous how legislators ordain things for others, secure in the knowledge that they won't be troubled by their own innovations?

From the June 3, 2006, Letters to the Editor:

Qualifications for public office

Re “Appeal fails on exit exam,” May 27: While there is much to debate about the state exit exam and how it warps the entire curriculum, there is one situation in which that test could be beneficial and effective. Mandate that anyone filing to run for any public office must take—and pass—the test first. Not only would this relieve voters of the burden of trying to avoid morons who believe that cutting taxes will reduce deficits or that Thomas Jefferson wanted Jesus to have supremacy over the Constitution, but those voters would have the assurance that comes from knowing their candidates could determine the area of a circle, conjugate a verb or tie their own shoelaces.

Those may not be very high standards, but they're better than what we've got. Now, any moron can run, and many do. Just think how much American history would have been changed for the better had this law existed at the federal level in 2000.

Bryan Zepp Jamieson, Mount Shasta

Hear, hear, Bryan! Hear, hear!

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