Gov. Ed Rendell blames teachers for his failure to convince the state Senate to spend money on keystone exams ("Pa. Senate Approves Legislation to Prohibit High School Exit Exams," June 11). Despite a 48-1 bipartisan vote, he referred to "rough tough Republicans" caving in to the "unions." Perhaps it is Mr. Rendell who is making a "mockery" of Pennsylvania's professional teachers who dedicate themselves to doing what's best for students.
"Ensuring that all young people graduate with a diploma that signals readiness for college and a changing workforce," as state Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak says, is a complex social endeavor that would only be made more difficult by wasting money and time on more tests. Fortunately, the state said yesterday it would stop development of the exams.
What is needed is "personalized rigor" (including remedial coursework) for all students K-12. Let's acknowledge the specific learning needs for each student and utilize the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment data to actually do something about annual yearly progress as early as third grade.
Colleges and businesses might help by partnering with individual school districts to advise on curriculum through mentoring programs that help students explore their unique interests and overcome achievement obstacles. This is best done through relationships with people, not tests!
Local control is the best way to accomplish this, and classroom teachers are our best resource. Perhaps this is an approach that will ensure that teachers teach, students learn and taxpayer money gets spent wisely!
The writer is a member of the Pine-Richland School Board and its legislative liaison to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.