I wish to express my strong concern regarding the recent article on the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program and, more specifically, the comments of an elementary school principal that she had to spend 60 hours of her valuable time to complete the application [" 'Blue Ribbon' blues," News, Aug. 3].

As a retired principal, I'm very familiar with the program and the external pressure to participate and be recognized. However, not only the principal, but also the faculty, support staff, community and PTA, spend time on the application.

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This work drains time from where it belongs: serving the children. That means attending staff development workshops to further professional growth, participating in collegial circles to study educational issues, obtaining appropriate educational services for children and maintaining communication with and involvement of parents.

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These are our priorities as educators, not giving in to outside political pressure for artificial recognition. I urge my fellow educators to rethink the value of this huge time commitment. Instead, I would recommend using components of the application for internal review with school improvement teams to assess identified areas of educational concern and develop an action plan.

Louis Brill, Smithtown