Letters: Elites are ruining public schools

Classrooms across Long Island were empty on Thursday. Classrooms across Long Island were empty on Thursday. Check our listings of delayed openings, closures and cancellations to see what's in store for Friday. Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

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In "Are our children boardroom bait?" [Opinion, Dec. 5], columnist Anne Michaud acknowledges some of the complaints about the education reform movement and then quickly dismisses them.

She acknowledges that anxiety about income inequality plays a significant role in the rebellion against Common Core and then she goes on to forgive all because of the promise of a brighter future for American students.

She has missed the entire point. It is not poor people who are driving this rebellion, but the middle class that has taken it on the chin for 30 years. They have sent their children to college, and far too many have discovered that the promised pot of gold was really a mountain of debt.

Why is there a rebellion? Perhaps it is that these same top-down policies from the business elite -- free trade, tax cuts that have shifted costs to the middle class, anti-labor legislation, and diminished services such as quality, reasonably priced state university systems -- have been responsible for the decline of the middle class. Why should we trust them now?

Education reform is the biggest fraud perpetrated on the American people. Funds for education have been cut back on all levels, closing programs and schools, increasing class sizes and reducing poverty programs.

Reform should be designed by professional educators on state and local levels who have nothing to gain but the enrichment of their students' lives, intellectually and economically.

Bruce Marotta, Huntington

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The opposition to the Common Core has been misinterpreted. School boards, teachers and administrators are not opposed to the standards. We are opposed to the midstream insertion of high-stakes testing without proper feedback from practitioners in our schools, and the fact that it has been forced on all schools, including the high-performing ones -- which do not need this "one size fits all" approach.

School districts were forced into signing on to the new teacher evaluation regulations under the threat of losing state aid. This occurred long before anyone saw the actual tests that our students would be required to take. Now we realize that these tests are not developmentally sound, and the results are being used to evaluate teachers and principals instead of being used for the purpose of improving instruction.

All we have asked the state education commissioner to do is to slow down and correct the testing flaws. Then we can evaluate our teachers under a new system when the bugs are worked out.

I would ask the state Education Department to give the districts feedback so we can work on improving the curriculum, if necessary. Simply telling us that a student got 50 percent of the answers wrong, months after the exam and without item analysis, is of no help.

And come up with a better method for "testing" special education students.

Peter R. Wunsch, East Northport

Editor's note: The writer is president of the Commack school board and a Western Suffolk BOCES board member.
 

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