Letters to the editor, May 13
May 10, 2013 2:24PM
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Updated: June 14, 2013 6:01AM
Cutting anti-smoking budget a mistake state is making
Indiana lawmakers continue to turn a blind eye when it comes to doing what’s right to make Hoosiers healthier and save the state money. One of the most well understood public health problems in the world is tobacco use, yet unbelievably, some of our policy makers are choosing to ignore the data. In Indiana alone, tobacco kills 9,700 people each year and costs the state $2.08 billion annually.
This does not have to be. When proper tobacco control policies are in place, we see the toll of tobacco decrease. In California for example, every dollar invested in tobacco programs saved the state $56 in health care costs. In Indiana when we increased our expenditure in tobacco programs in 2001, we saw a dramatic dip in our smoking rate from 27 percent to 21 percent in 2010.
It’s been shown time and again, both here at home and around the country, that tobacco control programs are a great investment. They save lives and money. Why then are lawmakers proposing to slash the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission’s budget in half to the $4.05 million? It makes no sense.
ISTEPs are too high of stakes for online testing glitches
Schools across Indiana were in full panic mode as the Department of Education scrambled to adjust to ongoing technical issues with the online implementation of ISTEP. McGraw Hill, the company responsible for administering the online high stakes test, was paid $95 million by taxpayers to provide a testing environment that would allow students to do their best. The poor results have teachers, administrators, and students wanting paper and pencils … and their money back.
The government’s intentions for online testing are admirable and in step with the burgeoning pace of technology. These same students will soon be faced with online school and job applications, college courses, and employers’ technology expectations. Online testing also has the potential to provide faster, more accurate results that, in turn, provide schools with valuable information.
The best laid government plans and intentions do not match reality. Intentions should be thrown out the window when we’re talking about the futures of young Hoosiers; only results mater. After this fiasco, I’m convinced online testing has introduced too many variables to yield useful data on the mental growth and development of students. Many students lost entire minutes of testing time while staring at a loading screen. For a 30 minute test, that is completely unacceptable. The technical issues made students and teachers frustrated and impatient; hardly the right attitude for a high stakes test.
I make a sincere promise to my students at the beginning of the year: I will never allow technology issues to hurt their grades. Until Indiana’s Department of Education can make the same promise, I’m calling on them to only use high stakes testing methods that allow your children to show their best work.