No More Tests
Editor: A recent Gallup survey of 231 semifinalists in the "Thanks to Teacher" competition asked what was essential for achieving the goals President Bush has established.
The teachers identified higher parental or societal expectations and more school and community partnership as most essential for achieving the president's goals. Identified as least essential was more testing.
So what has the Maryland State Department of Education, under the leadership of Superintendent Joseph Shilling, decided to do? Introduce the Maryland School Performance Testing and data-gathering program on top of the Maryland Functional Testing program that was established by David Hornbeck, the previous superintendent. It appears the only thing the growing educational bureaucracy knows how to do is test -- they do not know how to deal with education problems.
An increasing amount of tax money is being spent to evaluate student performance and students are spending an increasing amount of time being tested rather than learning. Local school systems are spending more time preparing students for the tests as opposed to teaching the established curriculum. The growing testing mania must come to an end if real learning in school is to happen. With the limited availability of funds, it is more prudent to direct those funds to learning rather than more testing.
Fight for What?
Editor: I am concerned about the military presence of the United States in the Persian Gulf and not quite sure what we are defending. Having had an almost four-year stay as a member of the armed forces in World War II, I have a strong liaison with the troops in Saudi Arabia.
We worried about the "domino effect" in Vietnam but the years following the close of that disastrous period in our history have not witnessed the feared sequels. Now we are about to engage in another such episode.
Are we fighting for the freedom of the people of Kuwait and deaf to the cries of oppression in other areas of the world? Is this merely a struggle for Arab oil which the United States could do without?
The gasoline crisis in the 1970s pinpointed that we should find an alternate product to fuel our automobiles. An effort to produce alcohol from carbohydrates was initiated but was stillborn.
We are now about to sacrifice the lives of a great number of young people that we may operate the over-sized vehicles we really do not need.
If we and our allies restricted the use of gasoline, the Arab states could not find customers. In addition, if all trade with Iraq were stopped, they could not sell their gasoline and could not supply themselves with the instruments of war.
Remember that the United States and its allies, particularly France, have sold vast quantities of armaments to these Persian Gulf nations in return for petrodollars. Some of this material may be used upon our troops.
Recall that Kuwait was a member of the oil cartel which mandated an earlier rise in the price of gasoline. If necessary, the United States could return to gas rationing as it was observed during World War II.
Let the United Nations and not the United States enforce an economic blockade of Iraq. Many of our allies have counseled continuing negotiations, but President Bush seems determined to find another means of settlement.
If war occurs, both sides will lose a tremendous number of lives and suffer great economic loss. Bring the troops home and spare the world these untoward results.
We have the technology to create other ways to run our vehicles and the time to do so is now. As a Christian nation, we should be willing to have a verbal face-to-face confrontation rather than use deadly weapons. I believe that a majority of United States citizens subscribe to this idea.
Joseph M. Miller.
The Enemy in Us
Editor: What has become of the "American spirit"?
The peace-at-any-price, honor-devoid proponents of capitulation are a stain on the pride of our nation.
It remains beyond understanding how we can have a fine and proud group of people like our military willing to defend our principles while being told that their sacrifice is useless. Those who would have us hide under the sand of Kuwait or Iraq have no spine to compare with those who fought and died to allow them to continue their cozy and free way of life.
The United States was born of confrontation and a willingness to stand firm against dictatorship and those who would destroy us. Will it now die of chronic cowardice and gutless blindness toward anything that threatens our immediate comfort?
Ronald L. Dowling.
The Real Amish
Editor: With respect to your Dec. 1 editorial, "Life Without the Amish," you displayed a commendable sentiment for such risibly patronizing reasons that one wonders if you have lost your sense social consciousness, or perhaps are operating from another planet.