Opinion: Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: May 26, 2013

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Opinion,Letters to the Editor

Gliders are definitely not 'lighter than air'

Re: "Foxx could push FAA to adopt glider warning rule," Editorial, May 22

Sorry, but I feel compelled to point out an error in your editorial that describes gliders as "lighter-than-air."

True, as they soar gliders may appear to be weightless. But unlike hydrogen or helium, they are most assuredly not lighter than air.

They fly by using the air currents, not by weighing less than the air they displace.

Ben Arnold

Centreville

DCPS wants to stop misdiagnoses of special ed

Re: "D.C. schools try to shrink number of special education students," May 15

D.C. Public Schools is committed to educating all children in the District, including our neediest and most vulnerable, and particularly those with disabilities. We have dramatically improved our schools and strengthened the rigor of our programs so that we can be the district of choice for all families.

But Rachel Baye's recent storyimplies that DCPS aims to reduce the number of students with disabilities just for the sake of lowering the number. Instead, what DCPS is actually trying to do is ensure that the right students are receiving the right services to meet their needs.

For too long, DCPS has over-identified students with behavioral issues that were really a manifestation of poor academic supports earlier in life. Baye's story would lead Washington Examiner readers to believe that DCPS is not interested in educating students with disabilities. This could not be further from the truth.

DCPS has increased its capacity to serve students with disabilities and has invested in supports to ensure students get academic and social-emotional interventions prior to being inappropriately identified. Our goal is focused on the accuracy of identification and diagnoses and ensuring that we're meeting the needs of students with Individualized Education Plans in the least restrictive environment and helping them to thrive.

Nathaniel Beers

Chief of Special Education

D.C. Public Schools

Va. Board of Ed shames Alexandria officials

Earlier this week, Alexandria's elected officials presided over a groundbreaking for the new $45 million Jefferson-Houston School, which school board members admit publicly may be only half-filled for years to come. But they can't bury the seriousquestions that remain.

Jefferson-Houston's academic problems are so profound that the school is one of only four in Virginia facing a state takeover. Yet Alexandrians know that new bricksdo notguarantee better educational results. Federal regulators labeled T.C. Williams High School as a "persistently lowest achieving school" just three years after the new $100 million building opened its doors.

Jefferson-Houston has not always been a failing school. In the mid-1990s, students outpaced the city's average pass rates on the Standards of Learning tests and the school was fully accredited.Even after a devastating 1999 redistricting, which moved the most learning-challenged children there, then-Superintendent Rebecca Perry demonstrated that J-H kids could learn.

When Superintendent Morton Sherman arrived in the fall of 2008, he inherited a school poised for breakthrough. However, under his leadership, test scores reached their nadir.

Why were there not more serious and consistent interventions as scores declined? Why did Dr. Sherman delay retaining one of the state's identified turnaround partners and wait months to hire a firm he'd worked with before -- just days after the Council gave the building project its final approvals?

The real heroes are members of the Virginia Board of Education. Last fall, when Dr. Sherman begged them to accredit the school because parents were being "scared off," they stood their ground and declared that disadvantaged students could be educated. The superintendent was briskly told to bring up the scores and parents would return.

When Richmond behaves more nobly and justly than Alexandria, heads here ought to hang in shame.

Leslie Zupan

Alexandria

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