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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 11, 2006 / 13 Iyar, 5766

A judge “stands up” for ignorance

By Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | California has spent some $50 million developing and administering the high school exit exam, as mandated by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Gray Davis. This was to be the first year that passage of the exam would be a high-school graduation requirement — except that an Oakland judge seems poised to throw the requirement aside. The legislative vote, executive approval and millions spent to develop and administer the test apparently mean nothing, not when a judge thinks a reform is not fair.


I wish I were shocked at a last-minute judicial fiat that runs roughshod over a much-needed school reform — much as, in a different age, a French aristocrat's coach might ram over peasants unfortunate enough to stand in the way. In this brave new world, if anyone tries to improve schools — and you can't improve schools without raising standards — no matter how weak those standards are, some court likely will step in to quash the reform lest it hurt someone.


As if ignorance doesn't hurt children. Arturo Gonzalez, the attorney who wants to overthrow the exit exam requirement, has argued that the test isn't fair because schools are not equal. Judge Robert Freedman of Alameda County Superior Court apparently agrees. The judge will issue a final ruling on Friday but already has said he is inclined to grant an injunction to allow seniors to graduate even if they failed the eighth-grade level math test, the 10th-grade level English test or both.


It's sad but true: All California schools are not equal. The question is: What do you do about the inequity? Do you sanction the inequity by allowing students to graduate ignorant? Is that fair? Or do you require that all graduates be able to read a news story and know what it means when a sale sign says "25 percent off"?


Gonzalez likes to frame the exit exam as "one test" — as if students must pass after being thrown into a rushing stream, or else they will sink. Not so. Students first take the two exit-exam tests as sophomores.


If they score more than 55 percent in the math test or more than 60 percent in English language arts, they pass and never have to take that test again. If they fail, well, that's a wake-up call that a student has not learned what he needs to know. Passing grades won't send a false message to parents and students, who will have two more chances as juniors and three chances as seniors to pass the exam.


State schools chief Jack O'Connell, who wrote the exit-exam bill as a state senator, is fighting the lawsuit. He believes that, by prompting underachieving students to study harder, the test is responsible for the jump in the number of high schools — 12 percent this year, compared to 7 percent last year — that scored 800 or above on the state's 1,000-point Academic Performance Index.


Indeed, four of the 10 student plaintiffs have passed the exit exam since the lawsuit was filed. The exam is working. But it won't work if the courts undermine it.


I feel for students who have failed the exam — whether it is because they haven't kept up with their coursework or are new to the English language.


Still, if they attend a school that does not grant certificates of completion (for those who pass their coursework but flunk the exit exam), they can earn a GED or attend adult education. Teens may not like that alternative, but at least they will know, when they receive their diplomas, that they earned them.


Just as Freedman and Gonzalez know that they earned their positions on the bench and in the bar. I should note that the state has argued that an injunction would apply only to the six remaining plaintiffs. It's hard to imagine that a judge who feels he can upend years of legislating, tinkering and test-taking will be satisfied with an injunction for six students.


At issue is the larger question of whether schools exist to make children learn or to make children feel good. If Freedman decides that undereducated students can graduate because it's not fair to deny them a diploma, Sacramento might as well give up on improving the schools.


The state might as well save itself some money, and issue an edict that says poor and immigrant students shouldn't have to learn math and English — because it is not fair to expect them to achieve.

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate

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