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[Susan notes: This strong letter cuts to the chase.]

Published in Orlando Sentinel

To the editor

Patricia Levesque's Monday "My Word" piece is only a rehashing of the wrongheaded approach to education espoused by the Bush family and their cronies. The logic, if that word may be accurately used, is to take educational evaluation out of the hands of professionals who deal with students every day, and put it into the hands of those who have not a clue as to how students might inculcate that which is necessary to be successful in today's world

The high-stakes testing system has moved the emphasis from education to passing the test; and that means teaching the test; and that means cramming for the FCAT. That system, cramming, simply does not educate. It is essential that we turn the system around once more, and educate people. Certainly, there should be standards to which we teach, and students should graduate with the knowledge necessary to succeed in a complex society. But how can a test, used to punish those who need help, be of value?

Testing in schools may be of use only when it furthers the cause of learning, not when it is punitive by nature. A good standard diagnostic test, readily available and much less expensive, administered and interpreted by on-site professionals, could lead Florida's public-education system out of the mess into which it has fallen.

Perhaps, if we changed, we might no longer hear, "Oh, we didn't study that poem, or play, or period, because we had to get ready for FCAT."

William Cuthbert

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