Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, August 18, 1998
Northern states offer
plenty of entertainment
As I mentioned several weeks ago, my vacation this summer
took me north, up through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and
South Dakota. I took a break to escape the West Texas heat
and found cool air and evidence of rain before the weather
got hot in those areas.
If you've never gone in this direction for any kind of trip,
let me recommend it as it's not really that far and there
are many things to see, many of which I'm sure many people
have heard of and others that are not nearly as well known.
New Mexico isn't much in the way of attractions other than
the beauty of the mountains. I didn't go to Santa Fe this
time but it is a pretty place although very expensive. I
haven't been there in years but I understand it is more
pricey than ever.
Colorado is a different matter as there are many
attractions, both natural and man made. Pueblo is a neat
town and you could spend almost an entire vacation in and
around the Colorado Springs area. Denver is also a popular
destination as there are many attractions there.
The only thing about a driving trip is there is never enough
time to stop and see everything. Some things live up to
their brochures but others are over hyped.
I enjoy seeing the Seven Falls in Colorado Springs as well
as Garden of the Gods (rock formations). The Air Force
Academy chapel is also a must see and you can't miss Pike's
All through Colorado, there are many attractions. I didn't
go west in Colorado on this trip although I've been there
and the list of things you can see is almost endless. I saw
more of the cropland in Colorado than I'd seen before and it
was nice to see crops that have been rained on.
In Wyoming as I mentioned in a previous column, the fields
of grass were endless and the rivers were running bank full
which was a refreshing sight. My destination was Devil's
Tower, the very first designated national monument for our
country in northeastern Wyoming on the edge of the Black
It is the core of a volcano with the earth surrounding it
having eroded away. It was featured in the movie back in the
'70s entitled "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." This was
really neat, especially watching rock climbers trying to
Then it was on to Deadwood, South Dakota, a famous old west
town with gambling. This town is known for the place where
Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back while playing poker.
He was holding what has become known as a "dead man's hand,"
Aces & Eights.
Of course, there is the infamous Boot Hill where Hickok is
buried along with Calamity Jane.
Next stop was Mount Rushmore near Keystone, S.D., where the
faces of four of our most respected presidents are carved in
the mountain, looking out over the Black Hills. In case
you've forgotten who they are, the faces are those of George
Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy
Not too far south of there is the huge, in progress
sculpture of Crazy Horse astride his horse. That work has
been in progress for 50 years and it is estimated it will
take another 50 years to complete.
There are a number of other attractions in this area
including caves, hot springs, lakes, petrified forests,
dinosaur digs, museums, etc.
Further east in South Dakota is Wall Drug, in Wall, S.D.,
famous as the largest drug store in the world. It's a fun
place to browse although it no longer has a prescription
counter, at least I couldn't find one.
Then one of the most unique places in South Dakota is the
Corn Palace in Mitchell. The original Corn Palace was built
in the last century to promote South Dakota and overcome bad
publicity by the Lewis & Clark expedition that the state
would not be good for anything but growing cattle on the
The Corn Palace was established and is maintained to show
that corn is a great crop for the area. Corn - in nine
colors - is used for murals on the wall as well as outside
decorations and the history of it is intriguing.
Then of course there is the Badlands and various other
attractions including the numerous waterfalls in Souix Falls.
If you're looking for a vacation area, these are a few areas
to be considered. As always on a trip, you can find many
unique and interesting places just by keeping your eyes open
and talking to other travellers.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mac McKinnon is the editor and publisher of
the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears each Tuesday. He
can be e-mailed at: email@example.com
Retesting - is it a good or bad idea?
By DONNA GARNER
Many school districts allow their students to "retest."
Retesting means that students have the option to retake
tests over again if they are not satisfied with their grades
on the first test. Some schools allow students to retake
tests as many times as they choose until they are satisfied
with their grade. Other schools allow students to retest
with the maximum grade on a retest being a 70.
Retesting in the public schools is a vestige left over from
outcomes-based education (OBE). OBE has been discredited
throughout the U. S. because it has not helped students to
progress academically. In theory, it sounds great.
"Students need to master the material each step of the
learning process before they go to the next step." This is
particularly true in competency-based subjects such as math,
grammar, and foreign languages.
However, in reality, this is what happens in the typical
student's mind. He thinks, "So long as I have a chance to
take a retest, I think I'll not study tonight because I
really want to watch that exciting TV program. I can always
take a retest even if I can only make a 70. That is a
passing grade and is good enough for me."
The class starts the next day with an entire group of
students who have adopted the same attitude. What happens is
that the teacher cannot move into the next developmental
step because too many of the students have not learned the
material; they are "planning" to learn the material later
for a retest but not right now.
The students who learned the material the first time
(when the test was announced) are ready to move on, but they
are forced to sit there while the teacher reteaches the
material to the ever-growing number of procrastinators. Why
does the number of procrastinators grow? The conscientious
students soon learn that the material is going to be
retaught and retested anyway so why learn it the
first time and be bored in class?
They join the ranks of the "learn-it-later" crowd.
Theoretically speaking, at the beginning of the year, the
classroom starts from Square 1 with the expectation that
tomorrow the class will go to Square 2. In reality with a
retesting policy in place, tomorrow part of the class
remains at Square 1 with a few ready to go to Square 2. When
Square 3 day arrives, many students are still on Square 1,
part are on Square 2, and an ever-shrinking number is ready
for Square 3. Soon the entire class disintegrates with no
clear direction or focus. Every child is on a different
Square, and there are no longer any clear expectations.
This is the fallacy of retesting and OBE. Most of these
same students, if they knew they would have to repeat the
class if they did not keep up day-to-day, would rise to the
occasion. They would study and be prepared for each day's
lesson rather than pay the natural consequences of their
decision to procrastinate.
Because children are not "miniature adults" and are
naturally drawn to procrastination, retesting simply plays
into that philosophy. OBE and retesting are practices which
have helped to turn out employees who are slovenly and
sloppy about living up to personal responsibility. Instead
of the schools requiring that students live up to deadlines
by letting students learn through natural consequences, we
educators have given into children's natural affinity to
procrastinate by allowing them to retest.
Our "cop-out" as educators has only served to produce the
kind of employees that totally frustrate the business world;
and it is these poorly trained graduates who have pushed the
business world to fall for the federal government's
School-to-Work initiative. Employers think that what we need
in the schools is more time spent and more emphasis given to
career education at an earlier age. They think that will fix
The point that they are missing is that what we educators
need to do is produce students who are personally
responsible, who can meet deadlines successfully, and who
can perform higher-level thinking because they have a strong
foundation of basic skills. This can only come from more -
not less - classroom time spent on teaching the fundamentals
and making sure that all students learn the materials
The way to make sure that students develop personal
responsibility and a full knowledge of basic skills is not
to give them an excuse for procrastination - retesting. Any
good teacher reteaches and retests when he sees that a large
number of his students have not mastered a concept.
That is a far different concept from students and their
parents being allowed to expect a retest, some even to
"demand" a retest.
One of the reasons that OBE has proven to be ineffective is
that conscientious teachers spent so much time developing
retests and tracking mastery that they had no time or energy
left to present the material well the first time around.
Tests do not just "fall off the trees." Good tests take
hours and hours to produce. Many OBE teachers who started
the year with good intentions eventually fell into the
practice of giving their students the same retest over and
over until the students finally memorized the order of the
Educators can help meet the needs of the workforce if they
will guide young children in the elementary grades and then
require older students at the secondary level to be
personally responsible by meeting deadlines.
Retesting produces the opposite effect by giving students
the "right" to procrastinate. After all, how many adults in
the business world get the chance to "retest"? I do not want
to fly on a plane with a pilot who plans to master the
control panel later when he has time. I would not relish the
idea of having surgery performed by a doctor who has
graduated from the School of Retesting and OBE.
Back to School Rally is a successful event
To The Editor:
I would like to commend Hilda Woods on the great job she did
in putting together the Back To School Rally held recently
at Maxey Park.
It was very, very professional and extremely organized. I
think this is an event that we should have every year to get
the kids acquainted with their classmates.
They had great refreshments and Hilda should be
congratulated on a job well done for organizing the event.
It was also very well participated with both parents and
students well represented. I also want to thank Reeves
County Sheriff Andy Gomez, his staff and the city staff who
were on hand for the event.
White collar criminals should be prosecuted
To the Editor:
I am tired of white collar criminals not being prosecuted to
the fullest extent of the law. This person according to
your article has stolen money in the past and apparently is
not being punished for it.
The white collar criminal effects more people because it
causes the public not to trust its government institutions.
When this person stole the money it affected all of us. The
money came from our taxes.
Equal protection under the law, also means equal punishment
under the law. I guess in this country as long as your job
is a professional position, you can steal public trust and
money without consequences.
NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
Clinton acts to form during apology speech
President William Jefferson Clinton admitted he had done
wrong in a brief but defiant message Monday night.
He did not get specific in exactly what he had done wrong
other than to say he had a relationship with Monica Lewinsky
that was more than platonic. He went on to say he never lied
in an earlier deposition regarding another alleged sexual
escapade and he did not encourage anyone else to lie.
He did admit to misleading everybody including his family
for which he expressed regret. He took the blame on himself
for much of the problem but then went on to say that this
was a private matter that was between him, his wife, their
daughter and his God.
That, to be sure, is the case but it has become more than
that because of his denials and misleading everyone
including his family about the whole mess.
His family has rallied around him. That could and should be
expected. However, will the American people forgive him? How
about all his loyal followers who took up the battle on his
behalf only to find out they had been deceived?
Clinton called for closure on the special investigation and
took out after Special Proseuctor Kenneth Starr. Although
some commentators expressed surprise at his venom when they
had expected him to be more contrite and apologetic, could
we have expected less from Clinton?
He has always been combative and taken on all his
detractors, whatever the issue. Few people could take the
pressure he has been under. We, too, want this whole mess
over. We want a president who will behave.
We had hoped and believed he had learned his lessons from
past problems but apparently that wasn't the case. Willie
was a bad boy. Will he act better in the future?
We don't know and he probably doesn't either. But with his
personality, he probably won't. And the American people
always kind of like a scrapper and Clinton has proven he is
that. That's not to say Americans approve of this kind of
behaviour, but he is the essence of the underdog and
Americans will probably pat him on the back and with a
wagging finger tell him to act better.
And life in these prosperous United States will go on like
nothing has happened.
But, let's not forget Ken Starr is keeping the curtain from
dropping on this melodrama. There may yet be another act in
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Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise
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