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[Susan notes: Here is something rare: praise for public schools and documentation to back it up.]

Published in Coloradoan

To the editor

Thumbs up to L. Kirsten Hartman for speaking out on behalf of her exceptional daughter. Coloradoan Soapbox, April 19, ("CSAPs do more harm than good for her daughter"). PL94-142 mandates public school responsibility for all Exceptional Children - children who differ to the extent that special services and facilities are required if these children are to achieve maximum development. Hartman's is the mother of a child with a learning disability who is required under Colorado Student Assessment to take weeks of inappropriate tests.

Anna Quindlen (Newsweek, June 13, 2005) joins Hartman in speaking out for these children and calls the No Child Left Behind testing program a form of child abuse. More parents should join them and speak out and change this inflexible system of accountability testing.

The public schools are falsely criticized by the media. The good news is that the schools are better than reported by the negative publicity. When asked to identify which of five alternatives best accounts for America's world's success, our public education system edged out our democratic government, our entrepreneurial culture, military strength, geographic location and natural resources.

When parents are asked to rate the school their oldest child attends, 71 percent rate that school A or B. Yet these same parents rate schools other children attend a C. Parents don't blame the schools for the achievement gap. They blame the home, community and poverty in these areas. The children already are behind before they arrive at school. We need to build better communities in which to raise our children.

Gerald P. Benson,

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