Let’s ensure students know the material

Bill Hanlon’s April 23 commentary, “High school exit exams must go,” was among the scariest things I’ve ever read — scary because he apparently was involved in education at a high level and the reasons he gives to support his position are so faulty.

Mr. Hanlon argues that people who want accountability are bellyachers. He says he’ll support exit exams if the bellyachers would be willing to take the exams and have their scores published. How would testing people who haven’t taken the courses recently (or ever) have any relevance to how much our kids are learning?

Mr. Hanlon asks how the state Board of Education would justify 70 or 80 percent of students not graduating because of these tests. It’s obvious that kids not learning the material is not the important issue to Mr. Hanlon. What’s important is to make the district look as if it is effectively educating and graduating students.

He says that teachers are under pressure not to fail kids, so students can pass with little or no effort. This is a reason not to give exit exams? This is a big reason they are needed.

Mr. Hanlon says an exit exam should be designed to measure something beyond how many correct answers a student achieves. Really? What do you use to find out if someone knows the material if you don’t ask questions and see how many they can answer correctly?

Finally, Mr. Hanlon asks: Who will pay for the remediation needed? I think the goal here is to identify where kids are not learning so improvements can be made. Then, I hope, more of them will learn the material the first time around and less remediation is needed.

Dave Newton

Las Vegas

Union vote

James P. Hoffa’s Sunday commentary, “Justice denied for district workers,” overlooked a few key facts, most notable of which is that fewer than half of support staff members voted in the most recent election. While 82 percent of the people who voted did indeed vote for the Teamsters, in reality only 40 percent of support staff employees voted to support them.

This despite an all-out recruitment effort by the Teamsters — on more than one occasion, a union representive showed up unannounced at my home, while union representatives made numerous phone calls soliciting support. If you can’t even motivate 50 percent of support staff to submit a ballot, how do you propose to negotiate a better deal than the current association? Teamsters local worked hard toward their goal, but in the end they simply came up short of the votes needed under the current rules.

The Teamsters failed to get a majority in the previous election and the Employee Management Relations Board, citing a lack of resources to perpetually hold elections, decided to change the requirements from a majority of staff to the majority of ballots received. This decision was contrary to what a judge ruled and so it came as no surprise that the board’s decision was nullified.

The rules were clear and a court has ruled (twice) in support of the super majority.

Do note for the record I am not a member of the current association nor do I intend to become one with the Teamsters should they eventually succeed in their efforts.

Tom Grossmann

Las Vegas

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