High school competency test really too hard?

To the editor:

Josh Haldeman is “angered and frustrated by the fact that two-thirds of sophomores in our local high schools failed the math portion of the proficiency test” (“High school test sets too high a hurdle,” Sunday letter).

Mr. Haldeman feels the reason for this outrageous failure rate is that the test is too hard, and he may be right. On the other hand, he may be wrong. All tests must be validated before being put into general use.

The Food and Drug Administration requires this of tests intended to diagnose disease or monitor therapy. The engineering community requires this of tests that measure earthquake survivability of bridges and overpasses.

Did the Clark County School District give this test to 10th-graders at local private schools, religious schools and to home schoolers, and if not, why not? How did the students in these various non-public schools perform?

Has this test been given to kids in public and private schools in other parts of the country? How did kids in these other cities compare with those in Clark County?

The local education establishment always has reasons why our dropout rate is so high and our accomplishment statistics are so low, such as poverty or unstable homes with only one parent. How do you expect them to learn when they come to school hungry? Unless we provide kids whose first language is not English with instruction in their native languages, what should we expect?

And finally, with class sizes this large, no one can expect better results.

The trouble is, almost none of these variables have been isolated and independently studied.

I will note that when free meals were provided to needy students starting about 20 years ago, test scores didn’t surge. So before anyone gets angry about the poor performance being a function of how hard the test is, let’s collect some hard data.

HENRY SOLOWAY

LAS VEGAS

Challenge accepted

To the editor:

In response to Josh Haldeman’s claim that the Nevada High School Proficiency Exam is too hard: I graduated from a small, rural high school in 1969 with a graduating class of 106 students — Fairview High School in Fairview, Pa. I dropped out of college after my first year and I haven’t had any real education since then. After 40 years, I have probably forgotten most of what I learned in high school.

Or have I?

I would welcome the opportunity to take the very difficult high school graduation tests, and I think the Review-Journal can pull this off by soliciting volunteers from the ’60s who possess only a high school diploma. They must have achieved their high school diploma in another state.

Come on, it’ll be fun. I suspect that it will reveal the real problem.

VIRGIL L. SWARTWOOD

LAS VEGAS

Federal subsidies

To the editor:

The Associated Press has decided to no longer use the phrases “illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant.” It has decided to call the people who enter our country illegally undocumented immigrants.

Here is another phrase The AP should eliminate: “federal subsidies.” It should be changed to “taxpayer subsidies,” since the federal government doesn’t have any money, it only has taxpayer money it redistributes to other people, corporations and governments.

MICHAEL O. KREPS

LAS VEGAS

Eyes and ears

To the editor:

In lieu of the extensive use of video cameras as a means of enhancing security, we might want to consider an approach to security used in some Latin America countries.

During a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, I observed uniformed police on practically every corner in the busy areas of the city. However, the police officers presented a different image from what I was accustomed to in the United States: They were unarmed. Many of them were young. They probably weren’t paid much. I imagine their primary purpose was to act as eyes and ears for a backup force. Nevertheless, their mere presence made me feel safer.

At high-profile events such as the Boston Marathon or New Year’s Eve on the Strip, the use of video cameras is great for producing a record of what has happened. But this cannot compare with an “eyes and ears” presence that might prevent something bad from happening in the first place.

ROGER WITCHER

LAS VEGAS

Endangered species?

To the editor:

I always suspected an agenda behind the craziness in the Endangered Species Act and those charged with enforcing it. Your Saturday article, “New rule limits tortoises to one per home,” provides a direct view of the craziness. The phrase, “One of the fundamental purposes of the Endangered Species Act is to conserve the ecosystems on which species depend,” is very enlightening.

In other words, “Don’t increase the numbers of the species, or the land will be returned to full legitimate use and no more land will be confiscated from the citizens.”

God save us from these human creatures!

RICKEY PAYNE

LAS VEGAS

Driving jobs offshore

To the editor:

April 15 has come and gone again. Why do we allow the government to put us through this? I know most folks don’t take into consideration what all this tax compliance costs, but certainly everybody knows what they’re paying in federal taxes? Right?

The federal income tax has been in effect since 1913. Since it was enacted, our society has degenerated to Third World status right before our eyes. Our corporations have been getting their butts kicked for decades, and it’s not because of the lower labor rates overseas, either. It is because our government, in its mission to constantly expand its role in our lives and the political corruption and the tax burdens it brings, consistently punishes success in the private sector.

Is it any wonder that most of our manufacturing has moved offshore? Our corporations are willing to take the gamble of unstable governments elsewhere so they can escape the taxes and regulations here at home. Our corporations have no incentive whatsoever to expand their operations here, and we the citizens are paying the price. 

We need to stimulate our economy so we can expand our tax base. We can no longer support our federal government. It has grown too large and it drains too much money out of our economy.

For decades I have been preaching about the Fair Tax and all the good things it would do for our nation. The politicians argue it would cost too much to get up and running.

Really? Like we’re saving so much now?

NICHOLAS P. GARTNER

HENDERSON

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