- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 26, 1999

Standards-based education reform is unking test

I noticed that Robert Holland has seen through Kentucky's attempt to claim improved National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores as evidence of improved education in the state's schools ("Declining grades for education's mentors," Commentary, Dec. 19). The state's educational standards and accountability system, known as the Kentucky Instructional Results Information System (KIRIS), is much like Virginia's Standards of Learning (SOL) and other similar test-driven reforms in other states. The Kentucky standards have been in place for 10 years, and for 10 years, the state has searched in vain for an indication that its reforms have improved schools. It is understandable that it jumped at the NAEP scores as the long-hoped-for validation for the program and sought to discredit the independent report that explained why the increase in scores did not represent better education. But as Mr. Holland no doubt appreciates, honesty must take the place of hyperbole when dealing with important issues such as education reform.

The fact that the current reform craze is based on an educational model that has been tried and has failed in the past is becoming clear even to the most ardent supporters of standards and accountability. Texas, once held up as a shining example of standards- based reform, has had its educational miracle exposed for the fraud it is by the Houston-based nonprofit group Tax Research Association and others who have looked closely at Texas reforms. Texas continues to lead the nation in dropout rates, hardly a sign that its schools are providing success for all.

Mr. Holland and others are beginning to see the signs of how bereft of promise for true improvement in education the standards-reform craze is. I hope other commentators and reporters can recognize these signs so that the hype put forth by IBM Chairman Louis Gerstner (who wrote "Reinventing Education"), President Clinton, and other supporters of standards reform can be replaced by an honest recognition of the abysmal track record of test-centered education reform and a critical evaluation of how they are likely to affect our schools.


Parents Across Virginia United

to Reform SOLs


Socialistic features' in D.C. government protect the worst drivers

The Washington Times article "DMV chief backs workers who gave reckless trucker a restricted license" (Metropolitan, Dec. 9) gives Department of Motor Vehicles Director Sherryl Hobbs Newman's defense of this action: "There's no threshold, no number [of infractions] someone reaches" to be disqualified for a license." She added that the agency weighs the point total against "letters of need" and other factors.

Letters of need? Does this mean one dangerous driver with X number of infraction points would be granted a license because of demonstrated "need," while another with the same number or fewer would not?

To each according to his need has no place in American democracy, being a feature instead of communist and socialist regimes. Ours is a society based on equal protection of the law and equality before the law.

The Washington Times should be editorializing against these socialistic features that have crept into the District's modus operandi; it should be exposing them and demanding that they be repealed.



Greek Cypriots, not Turkish troops, have been the biggest aggressors

A distorted picture of both the history and current realities of Cyprus permeate Col. George Jatras' Dec. 14 letter, "Columnist's criticism of Turkey was justified." It is very hard to believe after all these years that Col. Jatras cannot accept the fact that the so-called Republic of Cyprus is not the legitimate successor of the partnership republic that was established in 1960 and that the relationship between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities has never been that of a minority and majority. This fact has been stated by U.N. officials on various occasions.

Another fact the author overlooks is that Turkey not only saved the Turkish Cypriots from being massacred, but also saved the Greek Cypriots on the island by intervening in 1974 and stopping the bloodshed in accordance with its rights and obligations under international treaties. The only act of occupation on the island has been the Greek Cypriot occupation of the seat of government since 1963 under the usurped title of the Republic of Cyprus.

The presence of Turkish troops on the island is for deterrent purposes only, and the 1992 Ghali Set of Ideas, which the Turkish Cypriot side mostly accepted but the Greek Cypriot side offhandedly rejected, states that pending a settlement, the number of troops will be reduced.

Moreover, Col. Jatras skillfully tries to blackmail his readers emotionally by saying that the Greek Orthodox are subject to harassment and the desecration of holy places by Muslim Turks.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a secular state respectful of all religious beliefs. As for the desecration of holy places, Col. Jatras tends to forget that from 1963 to 1974, the Greek Cypriots destroyed more than 103 mosques. Only a couple of months ago, the Hala Sultan Mausoleum, one of the holiest shrines of Islam, was desecrated by Greek Cypriots.

It should be remembered that Turkish Cypriots are under Greek Cypriot-instigated embargoes in all fields and do not enjoy the benefit of international funding as the Greek Cypriots do. Restoration of holy places is managed with few resources at hand, and one of the methods resorted to as recommended in the Amsterdam Declaration of Oct. 24, 1975 is "giving new functions to historic buildings related to the needs of contemporary life." In accordance with the recommendations of the Council of Europe, some unused churches are being used as libraries, cultural centers and exhibition halls.

Ironically, Col. Jatras, after writing a very long and biased letter, recommends that the U.S. government help find a just solution to the problem through evenhandedness and by being an unbiased facilitator. I can only hope that in his future dealings with the Cyprus issue, he will take his own advice.


Second secretary

Turkish Republic

of Northern Cyprus



Andrew Borowiec's report on Cyprus negotiations and Turkey's European Union entry ("Turkey's EU entry seen having little effect on Cyprus," Dec. 14) presciently spotlights the immediate barrier to unifying the separate and equal Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot states under a political umbrella: namely, the indoctrination of Greek Cypriot children and teen-agers to hate virtually everything Turkish Cypriot, and Greek Cypriot defamation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as a pariah.

Moreover, despite all attempts, the Greek Cypriot parliament refuses to annul its resolution enshrining union of Cyprus with Greece and maintains this policy as official Greek Cypriot policy in blatant violation of relevant international treaties.

Turkish Cypriots were eager to live with the 1960 Republic Constitution. However, in December 1963, Greek Cypriots destroyed the dispensation they had accepted for a campaign of ethnic cleansing and illegal unification with Greece. Aren't Turkish Cypriot people entitled to a period of courtship and betrothal by Greek Cypriots through a confederation of their two states before they risk a second marriage, which philosopher Samuel Johnson characterized as a triumph of hope over experience?


Washington Representative

Turkish Republic of

Northern Cyprus


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