To the Editor:
If only legislators at both the federal and state levels realized the truth of Barbara M. Stock’s Commentary “Not Who But What Is Left Behind” (Oct. 17, 2007). I agree that some form of educational standardization must be in place, or a diploma in Maine will not have the same value as a diploma in Indiana, Texas, or Hawaii. I also believe, as Ms. Stock recalls, that our schools have drifted away from the days of asking students to not only know the “three R’s,” but also to be productive citizens of the schoolyard and their future society, having instead moved into expecting them only to regurgitate specific formulas, facts, and accepted theories to show themselves worthy.
With what type of individual would we prefer to be stranded on a desert island? The one who got a perfect score on the SAT but is unable to find shelter, start a fire, or solve life-threatening problems until our rescue? I submit that we need both the academic wizards to challenge our mental abilities and the nonconformist questioners to keep us alive. Don’t ever burn bridges to knowledge, no matter which road they may require you to travel.
To the Editor:
Barbara M. Stock objects to tests with “One Right Answer.” But in math and science, and to a great extent in other disciplines, up through high school and often into collegiate-level work, there is just one right answer. One should be free to ask how and why, but at the end of the day understand and accept. Before the citizen can analyze issues of government, he or she must know the one right answer to questions such as term lengths of elected officials, unique duties of the U.S. House and Senate, the number of states required to ratify an amendment to the Constitution, and so on. All structures, whether of brick or knowledge, require a foundation, and that foundation is made up, in either case, of many singular right answers.
A version of this article appeared in the November 14, 2007 edition of Education Week as What NCLB Leaves Behind: Readers Respond to Essay