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[Susan notes: Here is a group of quite extraordinary letters: parents protesting high stakes testing. Teachers need to join up with this vital resource. How about using a CD to sing out together in resistance?]

Published in St. Petersburg Times

To the editor

Re: New FCAT push accelerates teaching pace, Oct. 4.

What a sad article this was to read! Our daughter attends an "A" school but not because of the FCAT. It's an "A" school because of strong parental involvement, teacher dedication and experience.

Teaching has been reduced to succeeding on the FCAT. Handcuffing a teacher to an arbitrary calendar is what happens when nonteachers make educational decisions. Today's classrooms consist of students of such diverse backgrounds and home lives that to expect each student to follow a set schedule is laughable.

The added stress to the teachers/students will not result in better FCAT scores. How can anyone justify pushing students to the next skill based on a calendar instead of readiness? Talk about leaving children behind!

-- Mark and Susan Manley, Clearwater

Can the children learn faster?

Re: New FCAT push accelerates teaching pace.

I have no doubt that teachers can teach at a faster pace. The question

is: Can children learn faster? Are the schools teaching for the testing or for life? Can we afford to give up on the children who don't catch on the first time around, because we have to move on to the next lesson?

-- Barbara Horvath, Clearwater

Return to real learning

Does anyone else see that the state is moving toward a teaching system that is geared to passing the FCAT tests and not preparing children for living in the real world? Why are children not concentrating on communication skills, math, learning to live with others, getting job skills that will help them throughout their lives?

There are people who can pass subjects with A's, but who do poorly on tests. It seems to me that standardized tests are not the final answer to education. Real learning of academic subjects should be what teaching is all about.

Are the FCAT tests just a political ploy, or do they really help? I suspect that they are just a waste of valuable teaching time.

-- Vern Russell, Ridge Manor

Parents, make yourselves heard

I agree with the article about the FCAT, suggesting its stringent schedules are ruining the natural love of learning in our schools. Mount St. Helens might erupt any day, but kids in science class can't divert attention to the development of volcanoes if it is unlikely to appear on the FCAT.

Parents complain about the test all the time. Some even picket schools on test day. What parents need to realize is they really have control over the fate the FCAT. Parents need to step up to the polls this election year. These tests are failing our schools, they're failing our students, and parents can do something about them.

The FCAT is a Florida statewide assessment. The No Child Left Behind Act is a federal mandate. I don't care who you vote for this year, show that you care enough about your children to vote. Send a signal to legislators, that says, "parents can and will vote in record numbers."

-- Shelley Kappeler, Land O'Lakes

multiple authors

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