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Letter: To measure schools fairly, we need to use reliable data
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The Times published two essays last week, one by a national columnist, the other by a local writer, both to inform the public of reasons for school shortcomings. However, each author is just a few facts shy of a complete picture. Let’s compare and contrast our sources of information for a balanced view.

Every Wednesday, we hear from Star Parker of the Center for Urban Renewal, who claimed U.S. youth lag behind kids of the Third World, according to a large international study of education achievement. Her confidence in those numbers begs for the wisdom of American humorist Mark Twain, who said “there are lies, damn lies, and there are statistics.”

Please do not be misled by an incomplete interpretation of research. In this case, it is unfair to compare students where every child is allowed to try and to be tested in higher math, unlike students in China where only the highest echelon make the cut, to slant scores in their favor and feed the myth of some legislators who blame the teacher.

The other author has done his homework. In a letter to the editor by Mike Lane of Dawson County, we are asked to contact our local legislators to protest the recent cuts to public school funding as well as other social infrastructure concerns of health care, fair housing and job training.

His numbers are on the money, sourced by a nonpartisan Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, that show how our school support lags behind 46 other states, and advises that you get what you pay for. What is missing is the back story that Georgia is No. 17 from the top in per-capita income, and that the Lake Lanier area boasts one of the highest concentration of millionaires in the country.

If you see the irony here, please find our voice about what Teddy Roosevelt would call social justice.

Marianne Scott
Gainesville

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