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[Susan notes: Wouldn't you think the Colorado governor would have a staff that could produce a grammatical, logical letter? And maybe he should follow his own advice about setting aside the rhetoric.

Funny that the governor would brag about state spending on education when Colorado ranks near the bottom--45th in the nation. In fiscal 2003, Vermont spent $10,415 per child. ]

Published in The Daily Sentinel

To the editor

I enjoyed Rick Schneider’s recent letter in The Daily Sentinel because it validated what former Gov. Roy Romer, I and so many others are doing to try to improve our public schools — and the obstacles we face.

Schneider agreed with comments made by student Jeff Gonzales, who criticized the CSAP tests. Schneider wrote, “I don’t believe Jeff and many other students feel a need to validate themselves based on their CSAP scores.” He said “fun, variety and challenge” are compromised by the tests, that students feel like “inmates of a concentration camp” and that there is “pressure.”

Yes, this comes from someone we’re paying to educate our children.

As the parent of three children who have accumulated 36 student years in Colorado’s public schools, let me add a different viewpoint: We need to do better in our public schools. We need to push, to measure and we need accountability.

Gov. Romer put in place the CSAP when he realized that fully half of our children were not being adequately educated.

His program, which I agreed with and have added to, involved hundreds of town meetings with educators, administrators and parents to set the standards — establishing what Coloradans have a right to expect from our public schools — and then administering the tests to measure against those standards.

The non-punitive tests (no teacher loses his or her job based on them, nor can students be held back based on test results) nevertheless have caused angst among some educators like Mr. Schneider.

Why? Sometimes measuring reveals uncomfortable truths. For example, we find that too often many of our kids aren’t learning as well as they could or should — despite the nearly $6,250 per child per year we are spending.

Some people are unhappy being measured. But measurement is essential in any profession if we are to improve.

Teacher Schneider tells us to “trust our judgment. Let us work toward a higher goal.” Actually, as one taxpayer who is helping pay his salary, I’m comfortable telling him that he should set aside the rhetoric and focus more on teaching our children.

Gov. Bill Owens

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