Thursday's letters: Testing fuels corporate profits

Published November 2 2016

Music testing imperils a career | Oct. 30

Testing fuels corporate profits

Ever since the No Child Left Behind Act was passed, testing has taken over our schools. You must ask yourself, over these last 14 or 15 years, who has benefited the most from this? It has not been the students — test scores have virtually remained the same; it has not been the teachers — their creativity has been stymied by "teaching to the test" protocols; it hasn't been the schools — they only get press when they are failing. So who is benefiting from all of this testing? Easy answer: the big corporations, the likes of Pearson and CTB/McGraw-Hill. Pearson alone brings in over $9 billion a year.

The more tests they can produce the more profits they can make. Not only that, but if the schools want to do their best on the tests they must have the proper textbooks, and of course they are published by Pearson. The same applies to the states that use CTB/McGraw-Hill. Our politicians have allowed this, from the very top to the local level.

Bob Schaeffer, director of the nonprofit Fair Test, which works to prevent the misuse of standardized testing, says, "In a capitalist society, if there's a market, somebody will figure out how to serve it. But the corporations reinforce the stupidity of the bad policies of politicians."

Alan Mowry, St. Pete Beach

Music testing imperils a career | Oct. 30

Joy in learning is lost

It was with great sadness that I read about the music teacher who may lose her job because of computer testing in an elementary school. Whatever happened to music being fun? Special classes such as music, art and PE are sometimes the only reason a child even wants to come to school.

Testing on computers for these subjects does nothing but cause anxiety for the students and teachers. It does not show what the teacher does in the classroom day after day.

I am a teacher, and because there are not enough computers to test all kids at once, or glitches that cause the computer to go down during testing, kids' grades go down even though they know the material.

It would be a disservice to the children of this elementary school to fire a teacher who developed a lifelong love of music. The big question is, who will want to teach our kids with all this pressure?

Karen Bishop, Tampa

Affordable Care Act

Universal care on horizon

The conservative media have joyously proclaimed that the double-digit health insurance rate increases many Obamacare policyholders are facing mark the beginning of the end for the law. With apparent glee, some pundits have proclaimed that these increases are evidence of the law's failure and flaws in "liberal" policy. Many use these premium increases to reinvigorate the call to repeal the law.

The Obamacare health insurance exchanges are nothing more than a marketplace for purchasing health insurance with the stipulation that insurers cannot deny applicants and must cover essential health benefits. What these premium increases actually represent is that for-profit health insurance systems are unsustainable unless the insurers have the ability to deny coverage to those who need care and can restrict access to necessary care for policyholders.

Contrary to the assertions of those opposing Obamacare, the repeal of the law would primarily result in a return to the days when insurers turned away applicants, denied coverage for needed care and terminated policies rather than provide care.

What these premium increases actually represent is evidence that the United States must join other industrialized nations and provide universal health care for its citizens.

My experience has been that a growing number of Americans now see universal health care in our nation as an inevitable goal. The demise of the health insurance exchanges within Obamacare moves us closer to that goal. It would seem to me that conservatives should be mourning this news instead of rejoicing in it.

Edward Briggs, St. Petersburg

War refugees

Let love overcome hate

I arrived Sunday at church, the Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, and learned that the banner we had hung last summer to celebrate the refugee family we were helping settle in their new country was stolen — again.

A wonderful family from a war-torn country arrived here hoping for a safe place to live and raise their family. We helped furnish their home with the things we all need and had a shower for the little girl they would soon welcome. Members of the congregation are tutoring the children, as the school they attend does not have an ESL program. The father is employed and can support his family.

We are sorry that some are so filled with hate that they commit a crime in order to make their point. We also have a point to make. We again hung a banner stating that we welcome refugees and will continue to support them and others who are fleeing war and starvation.

It lasted two weeks. This past Saturday, it was again discovered that the banner is gone.

We are not done. There will be another statement affirming our resolve to let love overcome hate. We are at a crossroads regarding what kind of a country we want to be. We must speak loudly about what we want for our children. I read a saying the other day that said, "Pay less attention to the grade your child gets. Are they the kind of person who will sit with the child who sits alone?"

Marie Chapman, Dunedin

Amendment 2

Robocall or nightmare?

We get a lot of robocalls, especially during the election season, but last night was a kicker. We received a call from the Drug Free Florida Committee at 4:01 a.m. I tried calling the number back that they left, but all I got was the message left by the robocall, word for word. 4:01 a.m. is not the time to get votes, and they certainly didn't get mine.

Irvin Heathcote, Sun City Center

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