Letters to the Editor, Week of June 20, 2013

Efforts should target SOL reform, not our hardworking students

Hanover School Board Members Hank Lowry, John Axselle, and Glenn Millican voiced their protest regarding the recently approved exemption for students unable to meet SOL criteria.
Their response demonstrates their lack of sensitivity to the needs of students in special education and the limits of standardized testing. Ever since the introduction of the SOL tests, we have known that some students are not able to demonstrate their knowledge of a subject due to challenges with the presentation of information within a standardized assessment. That, in fact, is the very nature and underlying challenge of most learning disabilities.  These students were still required to demonstrate mastery of the material through passing grades and alternative assignments.  They also were required to score at least a 375.  While it’s not a passing grade, it demonstrates some understanding of the material presented.
Students who require Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) do so not necessarily because of low intelligence or because of an inability to learn; they require adaptations and accommodations due to a documented disability. Thanks to specialized instruction and reasonable accommodations (as required by Federal law), these students are able to demonstrate success in their own way. Without these accommodations, students are likely to fail, dropout, and become further “burdens on society” (as some like to say).
Mr. Lowry says, “real life doesn’t work like that.”  In response, I would like to ask Mr. Lowry when was the last time he took a standardized test to demonstrate his proficiency at his job. In fact, in real life, we demonstrate our mastery of subjects in a variety of ways and rarely through a standardized test.  As Lowry is quoted in last week’s H-P article, the SOL system itself is part of the problem but we cannot allow students to be failed by a system that is implemented based on a narrow definition of “success.”
These three school board members would make many educators very happy if they put their efforts into true SOL reform at the state level instead of accusing hardworking students of “gaming the system.”

Rachel Reynolds
Ashland

Candidate should explain her positions

Democratic House of Delegates candidate Toni Radler is highlighted on the Hanover Democratic website as one who will focus on “kitchen table” issues.
Though vague, that sounded really good to me, but I became concerned about her as a candidate when just below her photo there is a lengthy article about her group’s strong support for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered) movement. I was also concerned about various links on her affiliation’s website.
As a Christian and moderately conservative Democrat I’d like to encourage Ms. Radler to offer Hanover residents some full disclosure and let people like me know what her positions are on a number of issues that concerned me as I poked around her website.
For example: Do you support and espouse the views of the Progressive Liberal Caucus?
Do you support the article below your photo that offers strong support for the LGBT movement?
Do you support President Obama’s Agenda 21 Green movement?
Do you support the article that expresses glee over President Obama mentioning the word “gay” in his inugural address?
Are you a pro-Life or pro-Choice Democrat?
Do you support and espouse the views of the Virginia Progressive Alliance?
Thank you in advance for addressing these issues for constituents like me.

LaToya Brown
Mechanicsville

U.S. Silica is a responsible corporate citizen in Hanover

I became aware of U. S. Silica last December when they volunteered to “adopt” a family from the Hanover Christmas Mother program (sponsored by the Doswell Ruritan Club) to provide gifts, food, and special needs for Christmas
Recently, I learned that U.S. Silica is even more involved in making Hanover County a better place to live, work, and enjoy life.  They have been instrumental in coordinating quarterly community outreach meetings with the Hanover Community Center, Beaverdam Ruritan Club, Resurrection Disaster Relief (and Hanover Home Repair), Montpelier Center, WHEAT (Western Hanover Emergency Action Team), the Wood Ministry, Beaverdam Depot, and Beaverdam Heritage, and others I am not aware of yet.
This is a 112-year-old company (785 employees) with a plant in Montpelier that has 23 workers. Their stated goals are to actively seek opportunities to volunteer/engage in community activities and triple annual donations to charities; conserve and preserve water, energy and land; and enhance the quality of life and prosperity for their employees and communities where they operate.
This company certainly deserves recognition, commendation, and all the cooperation they can get from the citizens and governing body of Hanover County.  As indicated in the Dec. 8, 2005 Herald-Progress, “Hanover County Nabs No. 15 ranking on Top 100 ‘Best Places to Live.’” Civic-minded firms like U. S. Silica make this possible.

Ron Reed
Beaverdam

Posted on Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm