Last week, Albuquerque Journal columnist D'Val Westphal penned a piece about letters that high school students sent to state Education Secretary Hanna Skandera protesting standardized tests.
"They are stunning, and not in a good way," she wrote, noting some particularly bad grammar in the letters.
Westphal picked excerpts from 11 of the 165 total letters sent to Skandera. She titled her column "Letters from students show the system isn't working" and concludes that they show that "we don't have to wait for the PARCC scores this fall to see that help is desperately needed."
Westphal also published five of the letters in total in her online edition of the column.
To be sure, some of these letters do display bad grammar. Others don't.
While Westphal picked the worst excerpts of the 165 letters sent to Skandera, for this post, I'll do the opposite and choose from the best excerpts.
One of them shows a student properly citing her sources and studying up on civic affairs.
"According to an article on NJ.com," writes Santa Fe High School student Gabriel Valdez, "the New Jersey assembly passed a bill to postpone the impact of new state standardized tests for three years."
Valdez also appears to be following the money, referring to the federal No Child Left Behind law and the companies that made money off of it. "Need I remind you that the goal of these providers was to make a profit, with Pearson Education being the most profitable and successful?" Valdez writes.
Several letters show students articulating the reasons for their opposition to the PARCC test.
"The PARCC test to me represents how corporations have infiltrated even our education," writes Santa Fe High School student Ricardo Gonzalez. "They don't cherish education like the majority of students do. We need a world of innovators, problem solvers and geniuses."
Others show students using thinking critically.
"Putting more time, money and energy into testing students is a waste of resources that could have been used improving the public education system of New Mexico, one that is in desperate need of innovative thinking and creative minds," writes Ryan Miller, another Santa Fe High School student. "The data collected by tests is useful, and while I understand that and expect for it to continue, I believe that continuing support of intelligence and creativity will help young people of the world develop into people who can solve problems and create a more innovative, healthy future."
Read all the letters, provided through a request under the state Inspection of Public Records Act, for yourself below: