Letters to the Editor

Assessment of history knowledge is unfair | Federal Way letters

I am a senior at Federal Way High School. I have been in the Cambridge Program my entire high school career. Mark Knapp's article (Nov. 24) concerning the importance of U.S. history in our curriculum begs for some sort of rebuttal, or at least clarification.

Allow me to offer some clarification about the Cambridge Program. The program's curriculum is completely different when compared to general education classes. Therefore, it is not a reliable sample as evidence for a general conclusion about the educational system. However, both Cambridge and general ed students do not start learning U.S. history in-depth until 11th grade. You sampled from a pool of students who were not equipped with the information necessary to answer your questionnaire. Now, that's just unfair.

Instead of history, Cambridge ninth-graders learn critical thinking and logic. They may not be able to tell you who John Brown is, but they can tell you that your string of logic is fallacious. A few reasons why:

• You asked just three students and made a conclusion about the entire district's education system. In seventh grade, we learned that is what you call a "biased sample." Three is not enough. In critical thinking, we learn that what you did is called a "generalization," and it's a logical flaw.

• You asked questions based on another state's assessment. Texas has completely different educational requirements than Washington. It is not prudent to ask students questions on things that they never learned. Again, that is just unfair.

• You said that this lack of education is because of "emphasis on diversity, tolerance and understanding," but you never link absence of history to presence of these values. You provide no proof that this is what's taking up class time. You cannot conclude that "emphasis on diversity" is the cause because you have no corroboration.

"Not scientific?" Try "not legitimate."

So, to sum up:

• Dude. So uncool.

• You need better evidence and logic. In the meantime, don't blame it on the mushy value stuff. What did it ever do to you?

As an afterthought, I couldn't leave this alone: "How we all came to be the United States of America." I am not the United States of America, and neither are you, Mr. Knapp. I am a proud citizen of the country whose name is the United States of America. I am well informed about how this country came to be, via what I learned at home and in school. And you'd know that, too, if you'd given us students a fair chance.

Janel Evans, Federal Way

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