Letters: Education becoming too centralized

President Barack Obama sits with children during a President Barack Obama sits with children during a tour of a Pre-K classroom at Powell Elementary School prior to speaking on the Fiscal Year 2015 budget in Washington, D.C., March 4, 2014. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Newsday's editorial, "Sensible tweaks to Common Core" [March 12] was a transparent attempt to inflate the otherwise weak leadership stature of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo -- in this instance his oversight of our state's education system.

The recommended Common Core modifications submitted by Cuomo's implementation panel is much ado about nothing. This window-dressing does nothing to ward off the adoption of Common Core standards, the critical driving force that will influence and shape classroom instruction.

Our education system has been deviously co-opted through the use of heavy-handed carrot and stick incentives: President Barack Obama's Race to the Top initiative is designed to financially reward school districts that comply. On an individual level, educators will soon be terrorized into conformity through teacher evaluations, which carry the threat of justifying early terminations.

As the parent of an 8th-grader, I believe the quality of education on Long Island has far exceeded the national norm over many years. There has never been a grassroots effort orchestrated by parents, teachers, school boards or superintendents to request or endorse an outsider intervention into our local affairs. Let's stop this soft tyranny now.

Robert Serritella, Commack
 

I recently moderated a forum entitled "A Return to Common Sense: Restoring Developmentally Appropriate Education to Our Schools." Panelists -- a superintendent, principal, teacher, parent and student -- presented their perspectives on implementation of Common Core, standardized testing and teacher evaluations.

There is great frustration and resentment with new federal and state policies. The new approach has been rolled out with an immediacy that has many observers questioning the validity and reliability of any of the outcomes. As a former teacher, principal and superintendent for nearly 38 years, I have never witnessed policy initiatives that reflect such a lack of understanding of the developmental needs of children.

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How can such an approach be expected to improve our schools? What message is given to our children who do not do well on tests, but who are otherwise capable and intelligent? Who have a love for the arts but are told that they have to prepare for tests instead? Who are just learning English but are told they have to take a test in a language they can barely understand? Or who have learning deficits that do not allow them to "perform" on command?

Reports of the emotional breakdown of youngsters and plummeting morale of teachers are widespread. Some have called for opting-out of the testing regimes. We need to explain to our officials that many of us are fed up with policies that hurt our children and demotivate our teachers.

Arnold Dodge, Brookville

Editor's note: The writer is the chairman of the department of educational leadership and administration at LIU Post.
 

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