Letters to the Editor

"I have seen the WASL-prep teaching material. . . . It is badly written, bizarrely complex, and largely incompressible. . . . Can the test be any different?"


In searching for an explanation why Michael Medved doesn't "fit" in conformist Seattle, Tim Appelo stumbled upon the dual-headed worms at the core of Seattle's culture ["Odd Man Out," May 14]. First, ours is a stultifying monoculture with virtually no acknowledged diversity of non-left-wing collectivist opinion. The same people who endlessly parrot the mantra "diversity is our strength" tolerate nothing of the sort when it comes to divergent political opinion. Second, our "spiritual, not religious" culture worships relentlessly at the altar of the false god of niceness. The problem with elevating niceness to the highest rank among virtues is that it blinds us to truth and hinders us in choosing between good and evilor even which movie to see this weekend. Medved's a good guy. Why doesn't the Weekly give him some column space? Having a little independence and diversity in your pages wouldn't hurt.

John J. Sullivan



Michael Medved undercuts himself with his own whining words ["Odd Man Out," May 14]. "There used to be very conservative critics like the late Bosley Crowther . . . , " he moans. Neoconservatives today, like Medved, don't know what the real conservatism of a Crowther or Russell Kirk wasnor is. They simply cry out "Political!" and "Leftist!" when someone disagrees with them. The in-your-face confrontation tactics of Medved, Rush Limbaugh, et al., rarely engage insight, analysis, and true ideas, more often drifting into innuendo, condescension, and self-righteous patronizing.

Medved sneers that "the typical Roger and Gene trend show would be 'Blond Femme Fatales.' I was adamant that we should be edgier. . . . " Hogwash! Medved has never produced a program anywhere near equal to the quality of Siskel and Ebert's analytic tribute to black-and-white film, to mention one of their thoughtful specials. (Unless "edgier" means insulting.)

Is it any wonder he gets "uninvited to the party, seven years after he arrived from L.A."? Medved is a lightweight, no matter where he lives.

John F. Foster



Geezhas anyone looked at the "Collected Critical Works of Bosley Crowther" lately ["Odd Man Out," May 14]? There's a good reason there aren't many critics like that anymorethey sucked!

The most tiresome thing about self-styled conservative and neocon critics like Medved is that the art that best satisfies their political aesthetic is closest to the purified (and ultimately statist) official art of totalitarian societiesall virtue and no guts. He deserves to be in a minority of a minorityand what artist (even of the most commercial variety) could stand to toe the line of such a scold? Screw him.

Greg Ferguson

Portland, OR


Let me add to the reasons cited by Nina Shapiro for opposition by teachers to WASL testing ["Put to the Test," May 14].

The testing process takes three weeks. Those who worry about loss of learning during the summer should consider the effect when the last term of the school year is so seriously interrupted for WASL testing.

Grades earned for long-term performance in class are raised in some districts as a reward for passing sections of the WASL. Similarly, failure to pass the WASL in 10th grade will soon "overrule" passing grades earned in class. Thus, short-term performance on a test becomes more valued than long-term performance in a real working environment, i.e., the classroom.

The WASL has been described as a measurement of critical-thinking, problem-solving, and observation skills. But good educators know that critical-thinking skills are best acquired, and measured, in a meaningful context that builds on student experience. The WASL asks students to perform critical-thinking tasks out of context. This is a mismatch between methods and goals.

Rebecca Timson



Is there nobody willing or able to see and say the truth about the WASL ["Put to the Test," May 14]? It seems obvious to me it is a bad test, badly written and largely incomprehensible. I have two kids in the Seattle Public Schools. I have seen the WASL-prep teaching material they bring home. It makes me gag. It is badly written, bizarrely complex, and largely incompressible, not only to the kids but to their two middle-class, college-educated parents. Can the test be any different?

I would like to see test-testing by well-educated adults (not professional educators). Let's see what their pass rate is. And let's hear what they have to say about it.

Can we stop this juggernaut before it crushes the real education of our children?

Howard Stambor



In Canada, some of us do half-jokingly fret about a resource-starved U.S. colonizing us to cop fresh water, natural gas, and other candy from our irreverent, multilateralist welfare state ["Canada's Next," May 14]. But reading of Knute Berger's embattled relationship with the American far right ["Oh, Please, Not France!" April 9], I worry that our secret outpost south of the American border might be first. Not to fear: Our agents long ago infiltrated your national comedy infrastructure and will fight this fire, as always, with satire.

Syd Baumel

Winnipeg, Canada


The story about the U.S. taking over Canada is just one more of my paranoias [Mossback, "Canada's Next," May 14]. I mean, I was always going to escape to Canada. . . . Rats! Where do I go now?

Marilyn Mueller Sawtooth Valley, ID


"The Wrong Road" [May 14] was about the wrong transportation package. Not the one that just passed the Legislature, which included significant wins for the environmental community and received the support of numerous environmental organizations.

What were the environmental wins?

*The commute trip reduction program. It takes 20,000 cars off the road every workday.

*Preserving our passenger-only ferry system.

*$700 million for HOV lanes.

*State aid for local transitthe first time since the MVET was repealed.

*$30 million for vanpools.

*The Neah Bay rescue tug.

*Air pollution control funding.

*Nearly $240 million for passenger and freight rail.

*Funding for the Seattle Street Car.

Some of these programs were on their deathbed before the package was approved. Commute trip reduction, passenger-only ferry service, state funding for local transitall would have disappeared had we not reached agreement this year.

And here are just some of the ways I sold out my Capitol Hill constituents:

*Funding for noise walls in the I-5/ SR 520-impacted neighborhoods, mitigation that was promised while JFK was still in the White House.

*Funding for the neighborhoods to study the impacts of any reconstruction of I-5/SR 520 on their quality of life.

In addition, we stopped an effort to expand I-5 in downtown Seattle that would have created crippling backups on already-overcrowded roads. And we stopped the expansion of SR 520 through North Capitol Hill neighborhoods, a project that would have gone forward before an environmental impact review had been completed.

This is why the package received positive reviews from all but two environmental organizations. Is it enough? No. Is it a start? Yes? The real story raised by the article is the willingness of some who don't get all they want to move forward and work together.

Ed Murray

State Representative,

43rd District

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