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Posted on Fri, Jun. 26, 2009

Focus on why kids don't learn, not the FCAT

Re state Sen. Dan Gelber's June 21 article, Too much emphasis on one test: The exam would be easy to pass if our students were taught properly and disciplined to focus on education. Children's education should be parents' priority.

Education is about good curriculum, dedicated educators and parents who are willing to give time and energy to the mission. The FCAT is a measurement, just like those that our kids will face in job applications and during their working careers. Most are in imperfect, but they are a reality.

Gelber should focus on why our kids are not learning, not the weaknesses of the measurement tool. I have been an educator for more than 35 years; I went to public schools in the Northeast that were 40 years old when I attended. Every blackboard was cracked, every desk was marred with carvings and each class had as many as 40 students. Yet we learned and we succeeded because our parents, who were poor and, often, uneducated immigrants, demanded discipline and accepted nothing less. Teachers were committed to something other than their own contract. They were articulate (listen to teachers who speak on television these days) and worked hard.

PTA meetings were at night and almost every parent went. There were no days off except usual holidays. Today we are more worried about how our kids feel and look and what possessions they have rather than whether they can speak, read and write correctly. FCAT points the way to improvement; we need to seize the opportunity it presents rather than condemning the exam.

WILLIAM I. WESTON, Hollywood,