Dear Mr. Campbell,

 

As the typesetting was taking place for The Columbian's Our View column of 6/14/05, "A Better Test," our nonprofit organization, Parent Empowerment Network (PEN), was holding an organizational meeting in Vancouver.  I had traveled from Spanaway to discuss WASL issues with local Vancouver community members.  One of PEN's projects is Mothers Against WASL.  We are not merely a handful of "desperate housewives," as The Columbian's editors might like the public and local policy-makers to believe, and we are far from "lingering WASL foes," as your editors labeled us in the last line of their column.  We are hundreds of parents, teachers, professors, senior citizens, and students, throughout the state.  We are a reasoned, knowledgeable force.  And, after five years of continuous growth, we have only just begun to fight! 

 

PEN Executive Board Member Lisa Sampson is a Vancouver parent who is organizing activities to inform parents of their rights and about the problems with the WASL test.  She reports that one major challenge in the Vancouver area is that there is virtually no media coverage of Washington State issues, except for The Columbian.  This places a grave responsibility of objectivity upon your newspaper.  When The Columbian is seemingly biased in favor of the WASL, it creates an unfair advantage for our adversaries and an inaccurate perspective for your readership. 

 

PEN has experienced several successes in the past few months, one of which was gaining access to the tests.  Due to actions taken by members and friends of PEN/Mothers Against WASL, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has been forced to recognize the federal law (FERPA), which allows parents the right to view actual test booklets as their children's educational record.  OSPI is now developing procedures for the new policy we forced. 

 

 

I am wondering if your editors have read the recent report by Dr. Donald Orlich, which exposes the 5th grade science WASL and he 7th grade math WASL as developmentally inappropriate.  It was sent to every major paper in the state on March 15, 2005.  Dr. Orlich is an award-winning professor emeritus at WSU, who has taught thousands of Washington teachers and administrators.  He has many journal articles and several education books to his credit and a very long list of credentials.  I would urge your editorial board to study his findings and contact him for more information on his research.  I have attached his report here.

 

No educational association supports the use of high-stakes testing in our schools.  Your editors’ statement, "As The Columbian's Margaret Ellis reported Tuesday, most educators fully embrace the WASL," is false.  Surveys conducted by WEA have found that the vast majority of teachers disagree with the use of WASL as a graduation requirement and feel that WASL is overemphasized.  A recent WEA Representative Assembly in Spokane presented Dr. David Berliner as the keynote speaker.  Dr. Berliner has studied the problems associated with high-stakes testing, in depth, and validated every statement ever made by Mothers Against WASL. I would encourage your editors to view the tape of Dr. Berliner, which is available from TVW. I was present at this event.  The overwhelmingly positive response to Dr. Berliner's presentation fully demonstrated the disapproval of WASL by Washington's educators.

 

In the interest of fairness, PEN is requesting the opportunity to submit an op ed piece of 600 words for publication in The Columbian.  We believe we have been misrepresented by your editors on several occasions.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

Juanita Doyon, Director

Parent Empowerment Network

253-973-1593

Author, Not With Our Kids You Don’t! Ten Strategies to Save Our Schools, Heinemann, 2003

 

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