Letters to the editor-04-17-2013

April 17, 2013 

GIRL SCOUT COOKIES

Parents are out of place selling scout cookies

I love Girl Scouts. I was a scout for eight years, so don't get me wrong. But I think it's time to put the "Girl" back in Girl Scout cookies.

When I was young, my sis and I would don our scout uniforms and make the rounds, taking orders for and delivering Girl Scout cookies to friends, neighbors and relatives. Through this we gained valuable salesmanship skills, good manners, confidence and the ability to handle disappointment with grace. However, today it seems many Girl Scout cookies are sold by sign-waving moms who dance on the sidewalks while dressed in giant felt cookie costumes, or by dads who pass order forms around the table at their service club meetings.

I don't want to order Girl Scout cookies from a lonesome form left in the break room at work; I'd like a Girl Scout to personally sell them to me.

And when I ask why it would be good for me to purchase Girl Scout cookies from you, please tell me it's to help a less fortunate girl go to camp, not so you can "win an iPad," as one young scout recently gave me as the most compelling reason to buy.

SHELLY A. HOUSTON, Boise

EDUCATION

Measure progress by multiple factors

Recently Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, published a thoughtful article in which he suggested that teachers' effectiveness in public school settings would be better assessed through using multiple measurements by school districts rather than the current trend of using only the standardized test scores of the students in their class rooms as an assesment of their teaching ability.

Using only state defined targets of standardized testing he feels are a simplistic and archaic measurement to evaluate teacher effectiveness, and instead points out that salaries for star athletes in the NFL, for example, are determined by multiple factors and not only by their ability to score touchdowns or make tackles. Gates believes that a teachers measure of performance could be more accurately assessed through student surveys, classroom observations and student progress in a range of areas.

Having a daughter who graduated from an Idaho school two years ago I'm concerned that the Idaho Legislature begin to consider looking into several factors of teacher performance and not only look at what is politically expedient and convenient for them as politicians.

Bill Gates' suggestions ought to be given the weight of consideration.

KENT TAUCER, Ontario

The system has failed

Somebody here actually asked why "super rich" entrepreneurs would want to abolish government schools. Maybe it's because they want a better educated pool of citizens from which to draw employees - just a wild guess.

Clearly, the system we've been trusting has failed us. I read an excellent book making the same arguments in 1993: "Public Education, an Autopsy," by Myron Lieberman. And it was written before all the horror stories of widespread bullying, the mass shootings, the cheating-teacher scandals and the predatory-teacher sex scandals. Anybody who thinks their kids can somehow escape being wounded by at least some of these outrages is surely living in deliberate denial.

Everyone accepts the network of private colleges. Why is the prospect of private schools so frightening? Or is it frightening only to the army of public-school teachers, whose reliable state paycheck trains would be derailed?

Our state might educate children by providing subsidies to parents for tuition bills rather than by providing the schools. Steve Jobs argued that many eager young people fresh out of college (and others) would surely set up private schools if we did this.

It's certainly an idea whose time has come.

MARCIA BRACY YIAPAN, Nampa

Good deal for Luna

Pay-for-performance was Proposition 2. Luna asked for $38 million for pay-for-performance in 2011 (and some was spent). Voters rejected the idea - just this past November.

April - $21 million for pay-for-performance - done deal. Not a bad deal for Luna et al. A great deal for testing companies; it solidly anchors in excessive (and unethical) testing. Bad deal for kids. The money could have been better spent. And so goes the tragic saga of test-based education "reform."

And the research that should have led a public forum on the topic, and been shared with lawmakers, went unheard. Informed consent of the people? Informed decision-making?

Voters proved to be "bumps in the road" just like Luna said. Taxpayers - pay up, lie down and shut up. Bump, bump.

VICTORIA M. YOUNG, Caldwell

MSNBC PROGRAMS

Comments demonstrate network's arrogance

Melissa Harris-Perry's comments on MSNBC shows how removed from the real world this network is. Telling the country our children are not ours to raise and educate, but that they belong to the government.

This is the most blatant arrogance of our media. Who runs these networks to allow and support this kind of vile narcissism. Have they never heard of Hilter, Mao and other dictators that impacted the world with control and corruption.

Melissa needs to go back to school and educate herself maybe reading books like Atlas Shrugged could open her mind to what could happen if government becomes too big and starts ruling and dictating to the people.

Here in America we still have some freedoms left but with the disgusting media that is shoving lies and distortions down our throats, we will see history replayed. Pray for our country and for those that quit thinking for themselves like Melissa.

LIZ PENNINGTON, Boise

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