letters 11/22

November 21, 2000

Letters to the Editor 11/22

Don't skimp on testing

To the editor:

Interesting story about Jefferson High giving days off and exempting students from final exams for perfect attendance. According to your story, about a third of the enrollment benefitted. Alas, the mean board killed that program.

It's remarkable how students and teachers try to avoid showing what they haven't learned. Teacher's unions lined up in record numbers to push Gore because Bush threatened to test them. Even Hillary in her Senate seat debate defended that idea. She reasoned since lawyers only take a bar exam once, "Why continue to test teachers who are professionals, too?"

Jefferson High was wrong and so were the teachers for supporting a presidential candidate to avoid testing. Teachers don't dress, act or get paid like lawyers. Lawyers either keep up in their profession or lose cases and thereby clients. Teachers on the other hand get tenure and can refuse to learn a new thing for decades.


Tests are part of life and the earlier and better people learn testing skills the better off they are.

It was a good decision by the board in Jefferson County. A gold star on the report card is plenty of recognition for coming to school or going to work every day. Now, the board needs to bring a new academic high school into the county and forget money for sports activities. Yesterday's high school sports heroes aren't worth much in the labor market these days, nor are empty heads and perfect attendance records.

Skip Tollifson

Shepherdstown, W.Va.

In search of the truth

To the editor:

I wish I could let you see what is in my heart, why I continue to seek answers and most of all, my intent for only the truth. Truth can be painful, but truth can be dealt with. Nothing will bring my beloved son Josh back, but there is no price anyone could pay to compensate for his life.

I suspect there is someone else who also carries pain and is tortured within their very soul. I plead with that someone to come forth, to help me lay this to rest. That is all that I truly wish to do. I long to stop looking, to stop going over all of the ugly details, but without truth my heart continues to search.

It is also on my heart to send a message to young people; if Josh had not been drinking, possibly some things would not have taken place that night and he could have been alive today. He was out doing what many teens find themselves doing, thinking they are just have a good time. It cost him his life, and he was so full of life. Please be safe. It is so hard for us moms to be left behind without you in our lives.

During Josh's life we went through a lot together. He taught me so very much. He taught about true patience, unconditional love and so much about giving. Josh loved to give. Even with his death he has given me so much...opening my heart to hear many truths, and at those times when my heart felt as if it were broken, he helped to surround my with love to carry me through.

Once again, I stress that my intentions are not those of blame, but of closure and peace. To anyone who may have any thoughts or information, even if it may seem small, please don't hesitate to contact me at (301) 432-8441.

Irene A. Smith


(Editor's note: In July 1998, the body of Joshua Lee Smith was discovered in a paper-recycling bin in Rockville, Md., at a facility which had made several pick-ups in Washington County. At the time, police called the death "suspicious," but found no evidence of foul play.)

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