STANDARDIZED TESTS KEEP KIDS ON TRACK

June 23, 2003 12:00 am

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski hasn't exactly gained the reputation of Dr. No, his predecessor John Kitzhaber, in vetoing bills since taking office in January.

Kulongoski has only vetoed five bills that have passed the House and Senate in the past five months. But one of those vetoes has the potential to help children in Oregon.

The governor last week rejected a bill that would have removed the requirement that home-school students take periodic achievement tests.

There's no question that most of the parents of the 15,000 Oregon children who are home-schooled are doing a good job teaching them. In fact, studies have shown that these young people consistently perform better on achievement tests than public school students.

But there's a chance that without accountability to the state, some home-school children may fall through the cracks and not get the education they deserve. A parent/teacher may become preoccupied by an illness, a stressful relationship or some other personal issue and neglect to give the child the attention they need in their education.

Kulongoski expressed concern that a system with no monitoring or accountability will allow a few of the home-schooled children to not receive the minimal education they deserve. If the governor's veto holds, home-schooled students would continue to take nationally recognized, standardized tests in grades 3, 5, 8 and 10.

Most parents teaching their youngsters at home should welcome the chance to show how well their child is performing. If home-schooling is not working well, then they should consider another option — like enrolling the child in a public or private school.

Kulongoski's veto reflects a doctrine that the state has some responsibility to ensure that children within Oregon are being educated adequately. And no one has proven this doctrine is wrong.

Share your thoughts

What do readers think of parents home-schooling their children? What are the advantages or disadvantages of this approach?

Should home-school children be subject to standardized tests in the third-, fifth-, eighth- and 10th-grades? Or should the state leave these children alone, allowing parents to take the ultimate responsibility for their youngsters' education? What is the harm of the state keeping its hands off the education of some children?

Pen your thoughts in a letter to the editor. Letters can be up to 300 words long.