We need to educate the whole child

As an educator and administrator for almost three decades and a mom of four, I believe that we need to redesign American education [“Rallying for school funding,” News, March 5].

The global education reform movement, which emphasizes standardization and a test-and-punish philosophy, has hurt education. It has created a culture of anxiety and reduced risk-taking in our students.

An education should encompass four principles: physical, emotional, academic and social growth. Academic growth deteriorates if social and emotional mechanisms are misaligned.

In the Patchogue-Medford school district, our shifts include 40 minutes of recess, yoga, interdisciplinary and play-based learning. We are seeing the results. Kids and teachers are happier, and behavior referrals have been significantly reduced. It’s a “less is more” approach to educating children.

We can allow failed initiatives to determine the future of education and remain stagnant. Or we can grow our children by shifting to a whole child approach. Parents should attend school board meetings to share concerns. We owe it to our children.

Lori Koerner, Medford

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Editor’s note: The writer is the principal of Tremont Elementary School.

U.S. should retaliate against Ecuador

Ecuador has effectively declared cyberwar against the United States by continuing to give sanctuary to Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in London [“Putin’s proxy war against America,” Editorial, March 10].

This accused rapist and cybercriminal has damaged the United States. The Trump administration should close our embassy in Quito, Ecuador, and cut diplomatic relations with this country until Assange is expelled.

Klaus Bornemann, Great Neck

EPA mustn’t dismiss climate change

The North Shore is a truly special place to live. Part of the magic is our proximity to Long Island Sound.

After superstorm Sandy, fish swam in my basement. Two houses on my street have been lifted up and placed on higher foundations. Sea levels are rising and storms are becoming more severe because of increased carbon dioxide levels [“Doubt on warming,” News, March 10].

Scientists, our military, insurance companies and governments all around the world recognize this fact. Ignoring the facts will lead to irreversible problems. It would be as if one ignored a cancer diagnosis.

Climate change is not a partisan issue; it’s not a choice between jobs and protecting the environment. Climate change threatens our way of life and needs to be met with the full force of America’s creativity, work ethic and ability to solve problems.

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I wonder whether Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt ignores the consensus of scientists when it comes to a diagnosis of cancer or some other disease.

Dan Kriesberg, Bayville

Make 18 the age for criminal responsibility

As rabbis from across the spectrum of denominations and observance, we join in solidarity for the incredibly important issue of raising the age of criminal responsibility [“Stop punishing many teens as adults,” Opinion, March 24]. The adult system does not focus on the rehabilitative needs of children.

New York is one of two states where youth as young as 16 automatically end up in adult courts, jails and prisons. Passing the proposal in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2017-18 budget to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 will enhance public safety and offer youth age-appropriate interventions including, when necessary, incarceration in age-appropriate settings.

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In 2015, nearly 30,000 16- and 17-year-olds were arrested and faced prosecution in the adult system — the vast majority for nonviolent crimes. We should be better than that. This lack of age-appropriate intervention leads to higher rates of recidivism, higher costs for the justice system, and a stronger likelihood for young people to become re-offenders.

Within the Jewish tradition, we emphasize the idea of t’shuvah, the opportunity for redemption when true repentance is made. We urge action on this important fight to save and protect the lives of the young people of New York.

Rabbi Ariel Naveh, Rabbi Lina Zerbarini

Editor’s note: The letter was signed by 14 local rabbis. The writers are, respectively, from Bend the Arc, a social justice organization, and the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center in East Hills.