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<b>STAR test spin</b>

EDITOR: Dan Walters' Sept. 12 column ("School test conflict heats up again") criticizing the suspension of STAR testing as schools move to the new Common Core standards assessment was an unnecessary exercise in political spin.

If STAR tests were to continue, they would be measuring how well students learn standards that are not being taught anymore. What kind of sense does that make?

Suspending STAR testing during this transition period makes sense as schools tool up for full implementation of Common Core. In two years, schools will be back to fully assessing how well students are learning the new Common Core standards.

U.S. Education Secretary Arnie Duncan is quoted in the column as saying "no one wants to over-test, but . . ." Yet that is exactly what we would be doing if we continue using STAR during this transition. The article also quotes EdVoice as saying, "Without valid and reliable statewide assessment data, there will be no accountability."

The problem here is that STAR is no longer a valid and reliable assessment tool.

ROBERT TAVONATTI

Executive director, Pathways Charter School

Rohnert Park

<b>Arming Syria's rebels</b>

EDITOR: I was horrified by your Sept. 12 front-page headline: "U.S. arms flowing to rebels in Syria." With hundreds of thousands of refugees with no water, no sanitation, no housing, nothing, we are sending guns to kill more people. What is wrong with this country, my country, which puts murder before humanitarian aid? What is the difference between one strike as proposed by the president and arming a population? Why is the administration so hell-bent on starting a conflagration in the Middle East and Asia?

I grew up in World War II and have been protesting numerous wars ever since. Now, an old woman, I am frightened. I pray for peace for my children, my grandchildren, for everyone's children and grandchildren. We must stop Dr. Strangelove.

MARYLOU SHIRA HADDITT

Sebastopol

<b>Senior meals</b>

EDITOR: Excuse me, but I must be a little confused with regards to the closure of the Santa Rosa Senior Center dining site because of a non-negotiable fee requirement ("SR to review policy on nonprofit use of facilities," Sept. 11).

The city is going to take away something that gives emotional and nutritional support to our seniors because of a non-negotiable fee, yet the city has numerous properties where it hasn't been collecting market rate rents or any rents for that matter.

Wow, I have to wonder how city officials look at themselves in the mirror in the morning and if they can be anymore demoralizing to the seniors who made this city what it once was. A caring community that takes care of those who took care of us. I guess the city missed that history class. Sad.

S. LEEDS DAYTON

Santa Rosa

<b>A safe harbor</b>

EDITOR: As a homeowner living in the development next to the proposed Social Advocates for Youth housing on the old Warrack Hospital site, I notice a theme of fear in the objections of neighbors opposed to the project. They say that the apartments will threaten the safety of ourselves and our children.

Don't they realize that until all our children are safe and provided for none will be secure? It is young people who are unguided, without homes and bereft of a sense of belonging who turn to gangs, crime, drugs and alcohol.

Residents of the SAY apartments will have guidance, supervision and direction in their lives. They will be required to work or attend school, to pay rent and to remain drug-free. As members of a caring community, they will have no reason to turn to crime.

Many potential residents are former foster children, who — through no fault of their own — are on their own. Others simply have no resources — not a crime when last I checked.

I recently heard someone who had been assisted in his youth by a similar program say, "Santa Rosa is a pretty good place." Let's keep it that way.

GWEN M. NEARY

Santa Rosa