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