No Child Left Untested
Thank you for Nina Shapiro's article on the WASL ["Taking the WASL," Sept. 15]. I am a parent who is completely pro- testing but who really dislikes the WASL. The WASL is assessing. I am pro-testing. Objective testing.
Shapiro nailed it with the quote about the WASL: You are meant to take some information you have gained and then use it to answer questions about some other topic you have not been taught about. The WASL assesses thinking. The worry I have is not that we are preparing students to think; of course we want our students to think. It is that we will be able to assess and grade their opinions, beliefs, and thoughts.
I am absolutely for direct instruction, frequent testing of the material taught, and knowing where the student is in the learning of knowledge-based curriculum.
The WASL is a dangerous tool that can be used to enforce politically correct "thinking" and opinions. (No, I don't think black helicopters will hover over the schools.)
The No Child Left Behind regs require testing. They do not require an expensive WASL-style assessment. We can meet our accountability requirement (read "compliance") with the tried-and-true, objective, inexpensive, knowledge-based Iowa tests.
Thank you to Knute Berger and Geov Parrish for their editorials supporting the right of gays and lesbians to marry whomever they choose just like any other citizens [Mossback, "Gays, Mary K., Monorail," and "Gay Marriage Battleground," Sept. 15]. If the radical right truly wants to save marriage, it should start with Mary K. Letourneau's proposed marriage to her former student, Vili Fualaau. It should start with Jennifer Lopez's Rolodex of husbands or Britney Spears' 55 hours of wedded bliss. It's clear that marriage is not the real issue here. It's clear that plain old scapegoating and bigotry are what's on the radical right's agenda. Thanks to Berger and Parrish for bringing common sense to the issue.
Janice Van Cleve
Long Struggle Ahead
Thank you for printing Geov Parrish's interesting and enlightening column "Gay Marriage Battleground" [Sept. 15]. I was not aware of how stringent Washington's constitution is regarding equality of its citizens. Surely that will be modified if the members of the Evangelical Republican Church of America (the religious fundamentalists who have taken over the GOP) have anything to do about it.
I think denying same-sex couples the right to civil marriage is an imposition of ancient religious beliefs about inequality of the sexes—beliefs that are still embraced, consciously or not, by large numbers of our citizens.
I hope Parrish's prognostication about the inevitability of civil marriage rights for same-sex couples is true. Alas, I fear the struggle will be long and difficult. After all, it took 133 years for women to get the vote, 177 years before laws were passed assuring equality for blacks, and 186 years before legislation required pay equity for women and minorities. All of these injustices had been variously justified by antiquated religious beliefs.
We gays and lesbians have only been at this equality work in the U.S. for 35 years. Unfortunately, we were raised with the same Christianist beliefs as those who oppress us in the names of their gods. We have a long way to go.
South Palm Beach, FL
Recall the Recall
Knute Berger wrote: "Thumbs up on the state Court of Appeals ruling that said the so-called Monorail Recall initiative should be on the November ballot in Seattle" [Mossback, "Gays, Mary K., Monorail," Sept. 15].
Screw the rules, right? We don't need no stinkin' civil society. The rich know better than we stupid peons do. Don't like a fair vote? Shucks, just buy another bite at the apple. Witness Safeco Field, Gov. Schwarzenegger, the South Lake Union trolley, etc.
If we had light rail, better bus service, better roads, cleaned up the Mercer Mess, addressed the viaduct earlier, fair car-tab fees, taxed gas, and all the other alternatives to building more freeways, then we wouldn't even be talking about the monorail. At least with the monorail, we can tell the rest of the state to go fuck itself and finally expand public transit already.
Hapless in Seattle
Fact: Our president skated by with less than the majority vote, and he won. The Seattle Monorail Project won by 800- plus votes the first, second, and third time; that's a win in my book [Mossback, "Gays, Mary K., Monorail," Sept. 15].
With the monorail project being put back on the November ballot, it's a no- winner for the future of the city of Seattle. We, the people of Seattle, just refuse to go forward with anything that may help or improve our city, and our leadership in Seattle stands by us every step of the way.
Take a moment to step back and look at our beloved Seattle; if we were prospective residents, would we move here? We offer high housing costs with a cost of living that does not match wages; poorly paved roads and bridges that are falling apart; public schools that have lead in the drinking water; and property taxes that do not appear to pay for any of this.
What does it take to get something done in Seattle without spending four times as much for it? We voted no on the baseball stadium, and we got it. We voted yes on the third runway, and it took millions of extra dollars to get that vote enforced. Now, Seattle has been voted most overpriced place to live (Forbes), where the cost of living outweighs our growth potential. Is that a yes or a no in the City Council's book?
Smart, Not Moderate
George Howland Jr. and Nina Shapiro are stretching a little ["Moderate Landslide," Sept. 15]. Rob McKenna is not a moderate by any stretch of the imagination, and neither is Dino Rossi. It would be more accurate to call them smart than moderate. They are smart enough to pretend to be moderate on occasion.
Perhaps Ron Sims didn't lose the primary just because of his support for an income tax ["Moderate Landslide," Sept. 15]. He made a lot of voters unhappy with his ramrodding of Brightwater, tent city, and now the rural "land grab."
By the way, could someone explain why an income tax would be best for Washington state when President Bush feels a sales tax would be best for the nation?
Sharon Kay Ricketts
Killing With Laughs
I'm a Canadian teacher in China, and I watched House of Flying Daggers in Beijing shortly after its opening this summer ["Down From the Mountain," Sept. 15]. The conclusion did "kill" the audience—with laughter every time Zhang Ziyi revived. I agree with Tim Appelo's comments about her miraculous recoveries, but the line "In China, though, I'm told it kills" should have "with laughter" at the end.
It's been interesting listening to Chinese comments about different movies. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was seen as passé, and people here wondered what all the fuss was about in North America for such a "been there, done that" film. With House of Flying Daggers, though, Western and Chinese audiences seem to share the same opinion about the "never say die" performance of the Zhang Ziyi character.
Nanchong, Sichuan Province, China
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