Despite valid opposition and protests, the Common Core standards are among the boldest and most serious national efforts ever made to place educational reform front and center ["A realistic endorsement of the Common Core," News, May 12].
According to the annual report of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 38 percent of 12th-graders performed at or above "proficient" in reading, and 26 percent were at or above "proficient" in mathematics. This is disastrous.
The Common Core reportedly pinpoints specific goals for each grade in English and math that would place students on the correct readiness level. One of the most daunting challenges for teachers and students is spending excessive time on what should have been learned in previous grades.
Our country's founders created a Constitution replete with amendment potential, based on changing circumstances and continued development. This is a model for educational reform, which can still include input from states, teachers unions and the most prudent educational minds in our midst. Classroom teachers, especially, are in a position to review the curricula and suggest revisions.
Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Veteran educators have witnessed many very promising and potential innovations that were abandoned instead of corrected.
Fred Barnett, Lake Grove
Editor's note: The writer taught for 45 years in the Levittown public schools.
More arrests are better than fewer
According to the Newsday article "Kudos go to Kelly" [News, May 10], New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says he is comfortable with the number of stop-and-frisk stops now.
The numbers in the article, however, make me wonder whether the NYPD is heading in the right direction: 14,261 stops in the first three months of 2014 led to arrests or summonses in 20 percent of the cases. That compares with 99,788 stops that led to arrests or summonses 10 percent of the time in the same period in 2013.
That means under Commissioner Ray Kelly, there were 9,979 "good" stops, versus 2,852 for the same period this year. Aren't we safer with more good stops?
Norman Cohen, Farmingdale
Remains should stay above ground
Some family members are protesting the decision to entomb unidentifiable remains of the 9/11 dead below ground ["Final resting place," News, May 11].
I feel the same way as these family members. There should be a glass area where the three metal cases could rest. If I were a family member, I would want a place to go to pray, not have the remains 70 feet below ground. It's like they are forgotten.
I lost some friends at Ground Zero on 9/11, and this is what I would want.
Grace Bellomo, Port Washington
Gun safety, not gun banning
When Pax Christi Long Island honored Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) and Joyce Goryki with our annual Peace Award, it wasn't about the banning of guns, as one letter writer hoped ["Ban guns outright as death instruments," May 8].
We're about gun safety, not gun banning. We're aware that gun safety is very important to responsible gun owners. The support of these gun owners is essential to get reasonable gun safety legislation approved. One example is the New York State Nicholas Bill, which calls for the safe storage of all guns when not in the immediate possession or control of the owner.
Nancy Dwyer, Valley Stream
Editor's note: The writer is a member of the Pax Christi Insight Committee, which is focused on gun safety.
LIRR third track debate resurfaces
The article "Boost seen in 3rd LIRR track" [News, May 7] reminds me of the 30-year odyssey of this discussion. I have lived a stone's throw from the Long Island Rail Road main line for 48 years.
The new study, "The Economic and Fiscal Impacts of the Long Island Rail Road Main Line Third Track," assumes construction would begin in 2020 and end in 2024. I'm skeptical that a draft environmental impact statement will be ready by 2020. The study omits the cost of land acquisition and rail-yard construction. What land will be taken, and where will the new rail yards be built?
I believe other important costs have been excluded, including at-grade crossing elimination at New Hyde Park Road on the Garden City border. No transit-oriented development can occur with blaring train horns and gates down during too many commuting hours of the day.
Let's have an honest discussion, with real numbers and comprehensive solutions before we go down the path of skepticism, distrust and complete lack of credibility.
Edward W. Powers, New Hyde Park
Editor's note: The writer is a member of the LIRR Third Track Task Force, representing villages and towns along the LIRR main line.