Standardized testing provides useful information

Dear Editor:

To be sure, using the Foundation Skills Assessment tests to rank schools is a repugnant use of this test. And it should stop or at least be ignored.

I agree with Steen Peterson from Nanaimo who wrote in The Daily Courier on Jan. 13 that FSAs could be more useful if they were done twice to show growth.

In my early days as an elementary school teacher, I used a tool called the Gates-MacGinitie reading test. We would administer one test in late September and then another test in late March.

This test would show whether or not individual students improved in reading. All of my students improved. It was useful information for them and for me and also for the school.

When I became the principal of an elementary-junior secondary school, we would administer the Canadian Test of Basic Skills (CTBS). Although this was done only once a year in the spring, it gave us useful information about strengths and weaknesses in our school.

I have a vivid memory of how the test showed that the math problem-solving skills my school were quite low one year. So, of course, that became a major goal for the following year, namely, to improve problem-solving skills in all grade levels. The next test showed that we, as a school, had improved. We were judged by how much we had improved, not that we were low in problem-solving skills. I do not remember my school being ranked in those days.

It’s unfortunate that the Fraser Institute continues to use FSA results in order to rank schools. As I said above, I believe this is an unnecessary and distasteful use of good information. Unfortunately, many teachers have protested against using the FSA test for that reason.

This is a perfect example of the saying, “throwing the baby out with the bath water,” which I believe the BCTF and many teachers have done by either refusing to give the test or getting more and more students to opt out. I believe that we should continue to give the tests and receive the useful information that they provide and simply ignore the Fraser Institute.

Richard Knight, Kelowna

KGH still saving lives in a pandemic

Dear Editor:

In this time of COVID-19, it is easy to forget that Kelowna General Hospital continues to deal with many other health issues.

One of these was mine, which went critical on Dec. 20. My aortic heart valve was under attack by a bacterial infection believed to have started after a dental cleaning.

I owe my life to the fantastic cardiac team, Intensive Care Unit and ward nurses who gave me another chance at life. For this, my family and I are eternally grateful.

Stewart Detjen, Okanagan Centre

Won’t be using Canada Post again

Dear Editor:

I ordered a product from Ontario last November. The package was shipped from Mississauga on Dec. 4, arriving in Penticton three weeks later.

All good, Canada Post is busy that time of year.

Then, Canada Post sent the package back because my street name had been misspelled. This is where my story gets absurd! The package came all the way based on the correct postal code. My name, house number, city, province and postal code were all correct.

The truly ridiculous part of this is that my home is the only one with that postal code.

We hear every year, how busy the good folks at Canada Post are at Christmas. Therefore, I humbly suggest we all do them a massive favour and lighten their load by refusing to use the post office and send our parcels with any of the great couriers we have across the country.

Tim Lyons, Penticton

Someone will ignore pandemic rules

Dear Editor:

Outbursts of COVID-19 continue, probably largely due to rule breakers, especially the private-party goers.

This seems to be a thoughtless, ongoing, selfish human trait.

Being in my 90s, I can remember a heartbreaking example during the polio epidemic 66 years ago. I was then a “country doc” in Saskatchewan.

In our area, there were many deaths due to polio-caused respiratory system paralysis. Many others were left crippled by “infantile paralysis” as it was called then.

Despite this horror going on, one mother didn’t want to cancel her little daughter’s birthday party because the “little dear” would be so disappointed.

Even when her daughter developed a

“little flu,” Mommy still invited a dozen children.

Every one, except her daughter, ended up with permanent paralysis of at least one limb. One of them, who I still keep in touch with, hobbles around with crutches and both limbs in braces.

Now, the similarly self-centred, using every excuse imaginable, flout the medically-researched and carefully worked-out rules drawn up to achieve control of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No self control. No COVID control.

William Bradley Houston, Penticton

Conservatives’ disdain has no merits

Dear Editor:

In an MP report, Tracy Gray suggests that if it weren’t for “this Liberal government” we’d be living like there’s no pandemic “after nine long months.”

With the Conservative magic wand, we’d be “back to normal,” our “health protected” and the “Canadian Charter of Rights upheld,” “reducing regulatory burdens.”

An appeal to the anti maskers, anti vaxxers, “freedom” fighters, conspiracy theorists and anti gun regulation supporters?

Do they suppose a majority government can be found among the above? I hope not, for the sake of the future of Canada.

Canada’s Pandemic Early Warning System deserves discussion. In spite of the importance of the network in flagging SARS and H1N1, it fell victim to Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper’s overall budget cuts to the health portfolio in 2012.

A 2013 evaluation predicted that without funding, extreme challenges would exist in the event of pandemic.

Yet, as of Sept. 19, 2014, the post of Chief Federal Public Health Officer had remained vacant for 15 months, and by all accounts the subsequent reports of appointee Dr. Taylor were stifled, as was all medical and scientific research.

In 2013, Harper terminated funding to the health council, formed 2003 to provide common standards and best practices in health care across Canada. The situation in our long-term care can be directly attributed to this assault on the Canadian public.

This, like the Phoenix pay system, is among many examples of the economic and societal devastation that is the legacy of the now-Opposition, and since 2015 has cost Canada billions to repair.

As the Conservatives accuse the present government of “abusing tax dollars” during this pandemic, we can see the Conservative policy of survival of the fittest hasn’t undergone any Damascus Road experience.

As to the economy and employment, we need only to review the Depression of the 1930s to see the result of no government intervention.

A master of propaganda during the Second World War suggested that if you distort the truth creatively and repeat it often enough, people will come to believe it. Effective propaganda never accepts blame, concentrates on one enemy and blames that “enemy” for everything that goes wrong. Hence the repetition of “this prime minister,” delivered with the required dog-doo inflection.

Yes, we deserve answers — as to why this is the best the Opposition has to offer.

Elaine Lawrence, Kelowna