Letter: Some teachers should opt out

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Much has been written about the state tests and the "opt out" movement by parents [" 'Opt out' momentum," News, April 5].

However, most parents chose to send their children to school to take these tests because they trusted the process, their child's school and the teachers.

After three days, including 210 minutes of testing 8-year-olds, we feel as though we violated this trust and let down our children and parents. We are the ones who should have opted out. The test was developmentally inappropriate, with reading passages and questions years above a typical third-grade level.

We feel that the test was frustrating and emotionally damaging to our students, and we know better than test developer Pearson what is acceptable for third grade.

Assessments that are so far above a child's ability can't be valid or reliable.

Most important, we should have opted out because this testing will harm children's love of learning.

We support higher expectations for students, but these exams are inappropriate and unfair. Perhaps if teachers and administrators had the courage to stand up and truly protect our children, we could have sent a loud and clear message that anyone who values a child's self-esteem would be happy to support.

Eric Nezowitz

Robin Hoorwitz

Great Neck

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Editor's note: The writers are the principal and a third-grade teacher at the Saddle Rock School.

Is pot a way to control populace?

Whenever I hear about the legalization of marijuana, I can't help but think about how the opium dens of the late 19th century were used to control a populace in China ["Pot & politics," News, April 6].

I guess not too many people bother to read history anymore -- or are too "happy" on pot to care.

Elgin Alexander, Smithtown

Water cleanup in Roslyn 'troubling'

It appears the Roslyn Water District has good intentions when it proposes to build a $4-million facility known as an air stripper to treat contamination at a well on Diana's Trail in Roslyn Estates ["DEC to probe Freon in well," News, April 4]. But the story contains a lot of troubling half-truths.

First, as an environmental activist, I know that there are additional concerning substances, not just Freon, in the well. These will be thrown into the air if an air stripper is built, according to official engineering documents I've reviewed.

I oppose the use of Christopher Morley Park as a location for an air stripper. This is destruction of public forest land, and I find the circumvention of state law on "alienation of parkland" very troubling.

The water district has a second polluted well near Willis Avenue that needs an air stripper tower which, lacking a nearby woods, is expected by officials to be constructed in a residential area. Is this safe?

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This may provide a teachable moment about how precious water is, and strategies to conserve it and price it properly. But at this point, it looks like a lesson in haste.

Richard Brummel, Greenvale

New teacher video is about revenue

I agree with the letter writer who criticized the new requirement that teacher candidates present a 15-minute video of a lesson ["New teacher videos prove nothing," April 6].

Anyone who has experience teaching knows that assessing teaching skills in 15 minutes is ridiculous. There is really no way to limit a healthy, student-oriented lesson to such a short amount of time. The objectives of good lessons include student motivation, reaction and response. Sometimes the discussion cannot even be contained in a 40-minute lesson; there has to be a carry-over to the next class.

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I believe money is the true reason for the new requirement. It will cost each candidate $300 to file the paperwork and the video for approval. Imagine how the coffers will improve when teaching candidates must pay the initial fees, and possibly pay again when an evaluating group rejects the first submission. As usual, money speaks!

Lorraine Mund, Hicksville

Editor's note: The writer is an adjunct professor in the English department at Nassau Community College.

The Educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA) has been added to three other standardized tests that college students must take to become certified teachers. Student teachers should be held to high standards, but this test, for which students must pay $300, is merely complicated.

It involves teachers making videos of themselves teaching children in a classroom. Almost as soon as they walk into their student-teaching classrooms, they must begin soliciting permission from children's parents for the videotaping.

The edTPA is an insufficiently tested, unnecessarily complex assortment of tasks. Although it may eventually serve as a useful training instrument, it should not be imposed as a barrier. Its requirements are forcing bright, enthusiastic teachers to spend their time chasing down permission forms, formatting documents in a particular way, and conducting sound checks.

The edTPA forces them to become movie producers before they get a chance to learn their students' names.

Patricia Dunn, Shoreham

Editor's note: The writer is an associate professor in the English teacher education program at Stony Brook University.

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