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For general comments on the newspaper, feel free to contact managing editor James Miller at: james.miller@ok.bc.ca.

FSA results should never be used to rank schools

Dear Editor:

Clearly, Bobbe Wemock (“Tests are a good way to track progress”, Herald, Jan. 7) needs some information and clarity regarding the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) test that Grade 4 and 7 students across B.C. are forced to complete annually.

Wemock takes the position that scores should be shared with the public.

They are.

Scores are available on the Ministry of Education website and individual results are sent to parents. What I believe the Central Okanagan Board of Education is asking for is that the data not be provided to The Fraser Institute so they can create a ranking of schools.

There is absolutely no value to students, their parents, or teachers in having all schools ranked.

The value of the data which is available from the test, in the view of many experienced and knowledgeable educators, it is neither valid nor reliable because of a number of variables which are not controlled in the administration of the test.

In my 27 years in education, I am not aware of a single instance where the FSA scores resulted in additional resources, assistance, or targeted instruction being provided to an individual student, a class, or a school.

Interestingly, one consistent correlation in FSA results is that, overwhelmingly, when you put schools into categories based on low, middle, and above-average family incomes, you will see that those schools also land in low, middle and above average FSA score ranges.

There are other valid, reliable, and useful assessments which provide student, school, and system data that are used to guide teacher decisions and system planning. These assessments happen regularly during the school year.

If Bobbe Wemock feels that the FSA assists in finding lousy schools or subpar teachers, he is seriously mistaken.

It does waste a bunch of class time, does not provide valuable information, and both the time and money it requires could be spent on many, many other things that could make a difference to students.

Kevin Epp, Local President

Okanagan Skaha 67 Teachers’ Union

Twas a month after Christmas

Dear Editor:

Twas A Month After Christmas

‘Twas a month after Christmas and all through house

Not a creature was stirring, not even that mouse

All the stockings were empty and folded with care

So, we knew that Saint Nick had really been there

With ribbons and wrappings all crumpled and torn

The living room looked, quite messy, forlorn

The Children were nestled upstairs in their beds

With visions of next Christmas, alive in their heads

While mamma lay worrying and papa did too

Wondering ‘bout the bills and what they could do

With visons of Visa, Mastercard and the rest

Swirling ‘round and threatening their warm little nest

When at the front door there rose much chatter

Papa sprang from his chair to see what’s the matter

Fell over the nightstand, an’ lit with a crash

Threw open the door and found, in a flash

The bailiff stood there with a summons in hand

It wasn’t an invite to a concert or band

He wanted some money or the goods that we’d bought

Mom and me were frightened, and very distraught

By the light of the moon we spotted his badge

“Pay up now, or I’ll take Tom, Dick and Madge”

Before Christmas we spent, like this day wouldn’t come

Now, what could we do, ‘twas too late to run.

Out there in the drive stood a little old truck

With little old helpers named Jerry and Chuck

We sat at the table and wrote out a cheque

Not thinking when cashed, we’d really get heck

The bailiff, he snatched our cheque with a jerk,

Turned ‘round, tipped his hat and was off with a smirk

Our gifts were all safe, needn’t worry an ounce

But, we knew he’d be back when the cheque it did bounce

He sprang to the truck, to his team gave a shout

And away they all bounced like a geezer with gout

I heard him exclaim as he drove down the track

“If this thing, it should bounce, you know I’ll be back.”

William S. Peckham and Lynn Vaughan


Revisiting a piece of B.C.’s rich history

Dear Editor:

Inundated by American stories from the Old West, we too often forget our rich history of outlaws; miners and brave lawmen.

Bill Miner pulled off one of the first train robberies in Canada. Known as the Gentleman Bandit, he is believed to be the originator of the term “Hands-up.”

Sam Kelly known as Charles “Red” Nelson, was a notorious bandit from Nova Scotia. He ended up in the Big Muddy area of Saskatchewan as one of the leaders of the Nelson-Jones Gang. After various robberies they would hole up in the caves in the Big Muddy Valley.

So Canada had its very own Hole in the Wall gang. His gang was so successful it was one of the main reasons the North West Mounted Police established an outpost there.

James Douglas was born in British Guiana. He was the son of a Scottish merchant and a “free woman of colour.”

He spent 20 years as a Hudson Bay employee eventually in 1843 ending up as Chief Factor; then Governor of the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island and chief executive of the mainland area which became the Colony of British Columbia. They amalgamated in 1866.

His energy, resourcefulness and intelligence as founder of the first major British Settlement on the west coast earned him the title “The Father of British Columbia.”

Matthew Begbie was B.C.’s first judge from 1858-71 and the province’s first chief justice from 1871-1894. At one of his first trials, he told the assembled miners that in the U.S. they might govern “by the Bowie knife and the Colt’s pistol,” but not in British Columbia. Here, he said, we “have a law which prohibits the carrying and use of offensive weapons.

Let me tell those who are in court, as well as those outside, that any who carry such weapons will be dealt with to the full limit of the law.” It is not clear that there really was such a law, but the point and his reputation was made.

The North West Mounted Police brought order to the Klondike Gold Rush. The NWMP's requirement that prospectors bring enough provisions to last them a year on the Klondike prevented many fortune seekers from dying of exposure and starvation.

Matthew Begbie, the North West Mounted Police and James Douglas were three of the many of our heroes responsible for the keeping of law and order in the early West.

Elvena Slump


Enjoys our new Canada crossword

Dear Editor:

Thank you for including the Colossal Canada Crossword in Wednesday’s Herald. One more reason to enjoy this newspaper!

Mardy Courtney


Supporting India’s farming community

Dear Editor:

Farming is just not a source of livelihood for a farmer, but it also represents a farmer’s dignity, lifetime hard work, and very strong emotional connection to the motherland.

Indian government passed the Farm Bills in September 2020 allowing farmers to sell their produce outside government — controlled marketplaces and directly to private buyers — which, according to the government, will remodel the Indian agriculture and attract more private companies to invest.

But, the powerful investors will take advantage of this and bind the farmers to unfavourable contracts by big corporate law firms ultimately leading to total exploitation of just not Punjabi farmers but all farmers in India.

The real issue is the Minimum Support Price. MSP is basically a government safety net on prices, but the new bills do not mention about MSP at all. Farmers have been struggling for years due to low crop prices, rising costs, widespread droughts, and demonetization.

Many farmers have fallen into debt which is also a reason for a rise in farmer suicides in recent years.

Evidence shows that free market prices are always lower than the designated MSPs.

After peacefully protesting in different parts of the country, all farmers have united to protest in the capital of the country, New Delhi against these anti-farming bills.

India is a democratic country so farmers or any other citizen has every right to peacefully protest. Government used water cannons in this cold weather and tear gas as a form of force to disperse protesting farmers.

From crop selection to harvesting, a farmer does all the hard-physical work and the outcome also depends on the weather. It is not easy to a be farmer.

We feel very proud that we have agricultural backgrounds, and we are daughters and sons of these farmers protesting in the capital who are fighting for their basic human rights. Our parents work hard day and night on the farmland so they can send us abroad for better education, bright future, and a better lifestyle.

It is very heartbreaking when we see our farmers, relatives and other family members being brutalized in India just for protesting for their basic rights. We are very concerned about their safety.

We want to bring awareness at an international level so we can get more support which will put pressure on the Indian government to withdraw these anti-farming bills. If the Indian government is not going to support farmers, then we want the international leaders to interfere and help the farmers. Farmers feed the world and they do not deserve to lose their land under any circumstances.

#No Farmer #No Future #No Food #Support farmers #Help Farmers

Hitesh Talwar


Herald is best option to get a quick half-hour of news

Dear Editor:

A leading health professional suggested that a half-hour of news per day is the best way to escape from the repetitive news cycle of the samo–samo COVID pandemic.

I totally agree. A great way to cling on to your marbles is by simply reading your choice of stories in The Penticton Herald.

I wish all people a hopefully happy, maskless and virus-free 2021 New Year.

Tom Isherwood


Leave your lights up for month of January

Dear Editor:

This is a plea for people to leave their Christmas lights up and lit until the end of January. As most of you know, this is a very dark period for many in terms of the weather; COVID can add several levels of “ordeal” on top of that. The rate of depression blossoms.

Many nursing-home residents are still having to exist without benefit of visits from their kinfolk — and for quite a few of us who suffer from seasonal affective disorder), it is an endurance contest to wait through, that may require medication.

The lights and decorations make a considerable difference to our dark winter environment. And by Feb. 10, the change is happening and we start to feel that spring is in the air.

Gary Brandstadt