Letter: Place a moratorium on Common Core

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We have 30 instructional days before schools are required to administer the next round of math and English Language Arts exams to students in grades 3 to 8. Continuing to give exams that ask for knowledge that has not been taught is simply unacceptable.

Schools should support the legislature's commonsense calls for a moratorium of the exams ["Lawmakers demand: Delay Common Core," News, Feb. 5], and not the editorial urging full-steam ahead ["Stop the testing tug-of-war," Feb. 9].

Educators statewide support the curriculum shifts and rigorous learning promoted in the Common Core movement, and we support teacher and principal accountability, but not at any cost. Western Suffolk BOCES superintendents and the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association have detailed suggestions to modify the reforms without reversing course. But State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. and the Board of Regents have repeatedly ignored all substantive suggestions. While educators would prefer to right the ship ourselves, the proposed action by the State Legislature now seems the surest way to correct our course in time to make a difference in the learning outcomes for our students.

A moratorium of this spring's exams to repair the problems is the responsible course of action. It will be rewarded by a renewed trust from the parents and children we all serve.

Michael Mensch, Dix Hills

Editor's note: The writer is the chief operating officer for Western Suffolk BOCES.

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Wyandanch working on students' behalf

The Newsday editorial "Wyandanch's sad history: a revolving door at the top" [Jan. 21] was both inaccurate and misleading.

The Wyandanch school board has worked tirelessly to improve pre-kindergarten programs, train teachers to implement Common Core learning standards and find funds for afterschool programs. The board looks for ways to educate and inspire the children in the district. To awaken to this inflammatory editorial was disheartening.

The board took a stance and suspended the former superintendent, knowing it was going to be controversial to some people, in order to enhance student achievement.

The choice for the former superintendent's replacement -- far from being evidence of "dysfunction" -- was clearly the most seamless and efficacious the board could offer the district. Mary Jones often ran the district in Pless Dickerson's absence; she had been interim superintendent before, and with more success than we've seen since. Jones is an exemplary educator, and choosing her while continuing to search for a superintendent made perfect sense.

The anti-nepotism policy in the Wyandanch school district was not repealed. As much as it troubles us, in a hamlet where there is little industry and the school district is the largest employer, we have adhered to that policy. We also question why Wyandanch is singled out, while other school districts do not have anti-nepotism policies.

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Nancy Holliday, Wyandanch

Editor's note: The writer is the school board president.

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Amityville progress wrongly credited

The record regarding the Amityville school district needs to be set straight ["District mourns superintendent," News, Feb. 6].

As reported in the past by the state Department of Education and Newsday, here are the facts: In 2005, all the Amityville schools in need of improvement or restructuring were taken off those education department lists, largely due to the leadership and dedication of Superintendent Brian De Sorbe and Assistant Superintendent Mike Cohen.

A comparison of test scores between the 2004-05 and 2011-12 school years shows that the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards fell. In grade 4, English Language Arts scores dropped 23 percent and math scores declined 34 percent. In grade 8, ELA scores were down 14 percent and math scores, 15 percent.

The district's demographics didn't change between those two school years. The facts speak for themselves. Unfortunately for the students and taxpayers of Amityville, the district lost the leadership of De Sorbe and Cohen.

Stephannie A. Andrews, Amityville

Editor's note: The writer served as a member of the Amityville school board from 1997 to 2006 and is a past board president.

Property tax relief not adequate

After reviewing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's property tax relief proposals, I must conclude that this is another election-year gimmick ["Cuomo's cuts, checks and carrots," News, Jan. 26].

Giving a tax credit to eligible taxpayers if the local government stays within spending limits is only a temporary help. Even if the local governments stay within the limits, this credit applies for only two years. After that, it would be replaced by a "circuit breaker" for only some people, and our taxes would go up. I would expect that after the two years, local governments might seek larger increases for the money they would then need.

How about some real help?

Frank S. Verdone, Miller Place

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