WASL’s negative impacts linger




WASL’s negative impacts linger

The Columbian editorial staff is in error as it joins a chorus of media and others who are calling for state schools superintendent Randy Dorn to stick with the 2013 date requiring students to pass a new state math test. While it is understandable that the public is impatient with the seemingly poor progress that students have made in math, the exam hasn’t even been created yet and it needs to be evaluated for legitimacy before we require kids to pass it in order to graduate.

It would be unfair to students if we don’t make absolutely sure that the new exam is a valid measure of what students need to know.

The state of Washington has yet to prove that it can create a legitimate high school exit exam. The fact that neither Terry Bergeson nor Dorn could answer the simple WASL questions given to them during the last campaign should give everyone pause that maybe there was something wrong with the test itself. If we don’t want to repeat the WASL fiasco, we need to create an exam and make sure it is completely vetted before we push further failed experiments on our kids.

Bob Dean


Keep power line out of Hockinson

I am concerned about the Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project. I live in the Hockinson area and request support to stop the proposed high voltage, 150-foot tower power line in our neighborhood, Segment 31.

Consider the health risks associated with high voltage power lines. In 2002, the California Department of Health Services concluded living in close proximity to Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF) can increase risk of childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig’s Disease and miscarriage. In 2007, an independent study on power lines, 88KV to 220KV, showed cancer risks increased by five times for children ages 0-5. In addition, adults increase their cancer risks by three times when exposed to power lines as children ages 0-15. There are no studies for lines of 500KV, which are the type being proposed along Segment 31.

Constructing Segment 31 traverses property owned by Hockinson School District, set aside for a future school site to accommodate growth. Hockinson families and taxpayers have invested great amounts in the development of the best school district in the area.

Does BPA have the right to take that away? Given the health risks outlined above, does it make sense to have 500KV power lines over a future school site?

Richard Gillhoover

brush prairie

Soldiers’ barracks are deplorable

I recently met my son at Fort Lewis on his return from a year with NATO forces in Kosovo. Prior to that, he served in Iraq, flying the wounded to safety.

I was appalled to see the squalor that greeted our troops. Their barracks were thrown together during World War II. The barracks appeared abandoned, and should’ve been, but were not. My son bunked with more than 20 other troops, sharing one dilapidated latrine.

This is a facility that we wouldn’t house prisoners in, yet is where the Army welcomes those who have served at great risk in their country’s behalf.

I am certain that the terrorist prisoners from Guantanamo will be housed in facilities that are first class, by comparison— our representatives in Congress will see to that.

The blame lies no less with this administration than with the Bush administration, which, for all its rhetoric, did nothing more for the common soldier.

I urge Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray to tour the decrepit barracks of North Fort Lewis. Not enough money to improve the housing, no doubt. Meanwhile, NASA has found water on the moon and has gone back to Congress for millions to explore further. Attention is needed for our servicemen here and now; moon water can wait.

S. Peter Ekstrom


Congress is unwilling to change

Political articles in The Columbian are often repetitious, including my letter. The reason is that Congress does not change.

When there was an almost complete meltdown of our financial system, Congress swung into action and went on one of its many recesses.

Members of Congress have not taken a step back, as the people have. They continue to raise their salaries, have COLA raises, the best health care, massive expense accounts with nothing done on their part to reduce the accounts. “Life is good!”

The pending national health care legislation is filled with misinformation and lobbyists’ influence is evident.

Consider if all the billions upon billions of unnecessary subsidies given to these highly profitable companies, such as oil, drugs and others, were taken away and applied to national health care. Take that amount and subtract it from the projected cost and that would significantly reduce the costs for national health care.

Congress has that power, both Republicans and Democrats, to retrieve and divert this money to national health care, which would save taxpayers paying for the unnecessary subsidies. Do campaign contributions and term limits come to mind?

Wilfred J. Hudson


Barbless hooks recommended

About fishing with barbless hooks:

They conserve endangered, wild fish, especially smaller, immature salmon, steelhead and others.

It’s simple and cheap to make hooks barbless:

1. On treble hooks , crimp all barbs.

2. Trim one hook off your treble and crimp two barbs.

3. Crimp barb on single hooks.

The crimped barb forms a hump in the hook that keeps the fish hooked, but is easy to remove, when releasing fish.

Forward-thinking Alberta, Canada, went barbless on all waters years ago,

Isn’t it time Washington state did some forward thinking, starting now, to become a real fish conservation advocate?

Ben Dennis


Obama decision criticized

I am less thrilled than letter writer Hannah Palmquist (Nov. 15, “Lifting ban is morally right”) with President Obama’s decision to end the ban on HIV-positive travelers.

The spread of disease is largely caused by the spread of human populations. An HIV carrier spreads not just HIV, but also other deadly diseases, particularly new strains of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Tuberculosis, an illness that can be picked up in a crowded elevator, is on the rise due to HIV (New England Journal of Medicine, Oct. 2006).

Once, we burned heretics to make ourselves feel virtuous. Now, we expose healthy people to deadly incurable disease, for the same reason. It never changes.

Hollie Horowitz