The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 4, 2002

'Ignore the MCAS history target'

To the Editor:

So our schools somehow are capable of teaching math and English at levels near the top statewide, but a full 63% of eighth-grade history students supposedly need improvement or are failing, according to the MCAS tests.

What nonsense! Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson notes that "aligning the history curriculum to the state framework has been like trying to hit a moving target."

Here's some simple advice for our schools: ignore the MCAS history target. The middle school curriculum already covers what it ought to, introducing students to world history, American history, different cultures and civilizations, different political, economic and social systems, and most importantly, how to think through public issues.

School administrators and teachers should spend their precious planning time trying to hone, define and improve this already solid program. If and when the state educrats settle on a history curriculum, then consider whether that model offers anything to improve our program.

But until then, let's not waste our limited resources trying to hit a meaningless target.

Wayne Davis
Concord Street

Why is Maple Street still closed?

To the Editor:

I am writing to inquire on the status of the road and bridge work on Maple Street. What was predicted to be a two- to three-week job back in the spring, has now lasted all summer and threatens to continue into the fall. Brook Street is even narrower in many spots than Maple Street, and in my opinion, presents more potential hazards to motorists and pedestrians as a detour. I would like to think that our tax dollars could achieve quicker results than this ongoing situation would suggest. What is the story behind the delay?

Pat Ludwig
Pilgrim Path

(See article on Maple Street repairs on page 5.)

Writer opposes MCAS requirement for state college admission

To the Editor:

I was elated with the school committee's formal opposition to the current practice of imposing a single high-stakes test as a graduation requirement. The state's current practice is a clear violation of the original ed-reform legislation which calls for a comprehensive assessment system. The faulty MCAS falls far short of this standard.

Now, I would like to see the school committee formally oppose the State Board of Education's insistence that the state's university/college system impose the MCAS as an entrance requirement for Massachusetts resident students. Because the MCAS is not a requirement imposed upon non-resident students, its use discriminates against the most needy resident applicants. No private higher education institution uses the MCAS as an admissions requirement. However, not all students who have difficulty with the MCAS (often for very good reasons) can afford private school tuitions.

Can anyone disagree that it is both wrong and unjust to make access to our in-state public institutions of higher education more difficult for Massachusetts' resident students than for non-resident applicants? I doubt it.

Al Powers
East St.

Would you expect anything less?

To the Editor:

I'm in laughable stitches over the Carlisle School Committee (CCS) joining the DOE (Massachusetts Department of Education) opposition to the MCAS test. In fact, I've been laughing at this opposition since moving to Massachusetts in 1992, from the midwest.

Someday, both Carlisleans and the Commonwealth are going to be taught, and might even come to learn, the importance of accountability. But then again, when the fox is watching the hen house, feathers will always fly.

I grew up in the Empire State where all high school students were required to take the Regents Examination. That was back in 1979. Classmates I've met at reunions all agree this curriculum adequately prepared them for their freshman college year. In fact, having read sample MCAS questions published in the Boston Globe, I think the "bar' is set higher here in Massachusetts.

If you're going to continue to ask town residents to pay higher taxes, to support overrides that expound on the importance of the educational system, those taxpayers sensibly require a system of accountability. MCAS begins to do just that.

Peter M. Domino
Acton Street

Mark Twain's words resonate

To the Editor:

I'd like to share this piece written by Mark Twain. It was read last night at a poetry reading.

If a war on Iraq makes you uncomfortable, as it does me, I urge you to contact members of Congress now to give your concerns a voice. If you are interested in participating in or knowing more about worldwide peace efforts I recommend the American Friends Service Committee website at www.afsc.org and the international peace protest site at http://pax.protest.net.

Anne Chase (Ballantine)
Fiske Street

Published on Friday, September 20, 2002, in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Victory of the Loud Little Handful

by Mark Twain

The loud little handful — as usual — will shout for the war. The pulpit will — warily and cautiously — object... at first. The great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it."

Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity.

Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men...

Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will, by and by, convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

From "The Mysterious Stranger" (1910)

Town and newspaper praised

To the Editor:

I do not often write letters to papers but I want you to know how much I enjoyed, on a very hot August afternoon, reading the 30th anniversary supplement of the Mosquito. It brought back such fond memories of those early days of interesting times and good friends. The town and the paper seem to have progressed hand in hand.

Keep up the good work and good luck for the next thirty years.

Nancy Penhune
Vineyard Haven, MA

Nancy Penhune served in the 1970s as Carlisle's first woman selectman.

October to mark domestic violence prevention

To the Editor:

As a member of Men Against Domestic Abuse and Control, I wanted to let you know, October is Domestic Violence Prevention month. We are a group of men from Carlisle and Bedford working with women in our communities to stop domestic violence. Since women have been working to eradicate domestic violence for decades, we men have recently concluded that domestic violence is also a man's issue. If any man doubts that conclusion, consider these three words, mother, wife and daughter. These are the women victims of domestic violence, ninety percent of the time. If any man thinks he cannot prevent domestic violence, again three words, "Yes you can!" Please join us on the third Thursday of each month, 6:30 p.m., at the Carlisle Unitarian Church.

If you think that domestic abuse and control is not present in Carlisle, consider this: annually, there are ten restraining orders against spouses, according to Chief Galvin, indicating the court has determined the perpetrator to be potentially violent. If you think these are only a few people, statistically, domestic violence is an under-reported crime. Therefore, we know there are more than ten victims of domestic abuse and control in Carlisle among children, spouses and the elderly. Consider one of our families, which has domestic violence within it. Our children go to school, our spouses go to town meetings and our elderly participate in the town programs. What do they carry with them throughout the day, what kind of pain, anger, depression and/or acting out? Domestic violence affects our community in many insidious ways.

Throughout October, other Men Against Domestic Abuse and Control will write about the work they are doing to combat the insidious violence of domestic abuse and control in our community. If you want to learn more and help stop domestic violence, please join us October 17, 6:30 p.m. at the Carlisle Unitarian Church.

Ed LeClair
Baldwin Road

Alliance for Teen Safety grateful for bakery's donations

To the Editor:

I wish to publicly thank Sally Ann's Bakery for providing the coffee and pastries for the first meeting of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Teen Safety, Inc. Formerly, ACTS (Action Committee for Teens), the Alliance has evolved into a non-profit educational organization. Our mission continues, as in the past, to support the collaboration of existing community resources in the provision of programs that promote the health and safety of our adolescents.

The 25-member board of directors represents leadership from the Concord and Carlisle communities, police departments, recreation departments, Emerson Hospital, public and private schools, and local organizations that are committed to support the health and safety of adolescents and families.

Thanks again, Sally Ann's, for your continued support of local groups,

Barbara Howland
Alliance for Teen Safety
North Road


2002 The Carlisle Mosquito