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Web letter: ISTEP woes symbolize errors in education

For many of us, there is a sad air of inevitability about the computer problems that caused the recent suspension of implementation of the ISTEP test across Indiana. To be frank, we should be more surprised when ISTEP goes off without a glitch any more.

I believe the first step in correcting these errors came last November when the voters of Indiana selected Glenda Ritz as our new superintendent of public instruction. We all should feel better that she will be the one finding the answers to this mess.

But I also believe she faces a huge task, because the testing disaster is just one example of a growing educational mind-set that has taken hold at the state level which is attempting to turn our public schools into assembly lines.

Spend as much as we can on testing, but do virtually nothing at the same level for remediation or helping children with learning disabilities. Even spending a dime on early education would be nice, but that whole idea was dropped like a hot potato in the last legislative session.

So we are at the mercy of the almighty test. Teachers and principals lose their jobs based on test scores. Schools can receive a poor grade based on test scores. Students find their lives based on test scores.

Let us use this opportunity to truly examine where we are going with the education of our children and decide whether a test is the only answer to what our children need.

STATE REP. VERNON SMITH Ranking Democrat, Indiana House Education Committee