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Letters to the editor

December 13, 2004
(Page 2 of 4)

A case in point is a letter published last month in which basic facts were misrepresented. As a board member and officer, I feel that I have a responsibility and duty not to let misrepresentations go unanswered and the citizens of Washington County to be misled. Below are the facts:

1. The aforementioned letter stated that students are not assessed until ages 8 or 9. Children in Washington County Public Schools are assessed regularly in grades pre-K through 2. That is a fact. County benchmarks that are aligned with the Voluntary State Curriculum and the Maryland School Assessments are regularly administered. We are also required by the state to assess kindergarten-age students using the Maryland Model for School Readiness (MMSR). The MMSR assessment results are reported to the board, and the data disaggregate the readiness of kindergarten students based on their participation in pre-K programs, Head Start, private pre-K and no pre-K experiences.

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Grade 2 students are assessed on the CAT, a national test. Some of the professional staff even argue that there is too much assessment, but the federal No Child Left Behind Act has required all schools across the country to increase data collection so that student progress can be carefully and continuously monitored.

2. The letter stated that no discussion occurred about all-day kindergarten for students most at need. All-day kindergarten for all children is a matter of law. By 2007 every kindergarten-age child must be enrolled in an all-day kindergarten program. WCPS did in fact target and implement, as a priority, all-day kindergarten programs in Title I schools first, where we have higher rates of student poverty, the usual indicator of at-risk students.

The remaining all-day kindergarten programs that will be phased in by 2007 are those for schools with lower poverty rates. Additionally, according to state law, pre-K programs must be offered by 2007 to all children identified as at-risk. We have begun implementation toward that goal as well.

3. With regard to Student Achievement Specialists, simply put, they do not direct teachers. They support teachers. We have repeatedly stated that SAS's have no authority to evaluate or direct teachers. They are there to provide on-site professional development, collect and evaluate student data and work with students.

The board welcomes suggestions that could be valuable to improving our school system and values citizens who desire to become excellent advocates for students. However, in my opinion, when persons disregard the facts, it diminishes their credibility and does a disservice to their fellow citizens.

W. Edward Forrest
Washington County School Board President




A civil forum


To the editor:

In a time that it seems our country is divided, that civility is at an all-time low and that we all seem disconnected with our community, there appears a place such as the Shannondale community forum (www.shannondale.org) to restore my faith in my fellow man.

It is a place where you can meet your neighbors, not just the ones next door, but the ones all around you - the ones you share your environment with. It has been said that in this fast-paced, digital age, there is no more communication with those around you, and that most of us are disconnected with our community.

This is a place where neighbors can discuss issues that are important to them, a place were civil dialogue and community spirit are welcomed and appreciated.

The folks who run and participate in this forum should be commended. For the rapidly growing and diverse population on the Jefferson County mountain, this is a place where we all can discuss our problems, concerns, hopes and outlooks on our community and our lives.

It is a productive place, where our thoughts and ideas are tossed around and debated. We may not all agree on the same things, but it is a healthy outlet for many people.

It is my hope that other communities in our area and around the country will embrace this concept. Then, maybe we will have a more civil society in this new and ever-expanding digital age.

Craig Ricketts
Harpers Ferry, W.Va.




Miller short on details


To the editor:

I attended the Hagerstown/Washington County Chamber of Commerce meeting with Mike Miller in Hagerstown, where he was the keynote speaker. I appreciate his coming to Hagerstown to speak with us. There are many things that I think he needs to be aware of in light of his remarks.

I am one of the surgeons in Hagerstown who provides general, vascula, and trauma services through Washington County Hospital.

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