Letters: Hillel, shun anti--Israel speakers
Columnist Anne Michaud says "call me naive," so I will ["Diplomacy, the college-campus way," Opinion, Jan. 16].
She is naive on Rav Hillel and Hillel International. Hillel was primarily a rabbi, not an elder, although some believe he lived to age 120. He did much of his learning and teaching in his 40s.
Most important, he would be horrified by her lack of understanding of who he was and what he taught. He would be appalled by and totally against what goes on at Hillel at Swarthmore College.
Hillel is a Jewish nondenominational organization, with student views from left to right. Debate is the cornerstone of Jewish learning, both religious and secular.
However, it is outrageous to expect Hillel to sponsor speakers who believe Israel should not exist. It's like inviting the Ku Klux Klan to an NAACP meeting.
This is not a free-speech issue. Everyone is free to speak, but Hillel is free to decide which speakers it chooses to sponsor.
Naomi Silverberg Schwartz, Levittown
The conclusion that there needs to be a final solution, a permanent extermination of the Jewish people, is still very much alive. Jews are victims of hate crimes across the world.
No group on Earth willingly submits to extermination. The world expects Jews to accept the unacceptable and to accept a fictional narrative and give it credence along with the truth.
The fact that Hillel rejects anti-Semitism and its cousin, anti-Zionism, is not unreasonable. I can't imagine the YMCA hosting a speaker calling for the death of Christians.
My parents survived the Holocaust, and I give money to Hillel to tell the truth about Israel and to support the right of the Jewish people to never again face genocide by their enemies.
Jews who don't know their own history and wish to hear another worldview should not be supported by Hillel funds. The enemies of Israel and the Jewish people have many platforms to espouse their views. They don't need a Jewish imprimatur as well.
Roslyn Green, Woodmere
Delay curriculum and teacher bonuses
I agree with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that the state's rollout of school curricula tied to the Common Core academic standards should be delayed and its implementation re-evaluated .
The disastrous implementation of the Common Core in New York explains the war going on in schools. The Common Core was rushed into schools without the support of teachers or students. There are too many flaws in the rigorous testing and new curriculum. Common Core must be taken back and re-evaluated before it ruins our schools and wastes more money.
I don't know why anyone felt the need to change an education system that has worked in the past.
Rosemary Ritter, Massapequa
The Teacher Excellence Fund proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would help districts throughout New York provide bonuses of up to $20,000 to reward "highly effective" public school educators ["Technology for schoolkids wins support," News, Jan. 9]. However, are the qualifications for being a "highly effective" teacher really fair?
First, this fund is based on the fairly new Common Core standards that students and educators are finding very difficult to adopt, mainly because of its poor implementation.
A major qualification for the rating of "highly effective" is that a teacher's students have improved test scores. What happens when a reputable teacher has students who do not test well?
For teachers to keep their jobs, they are forced to teach students to simply achieve high test scores. What, then, will students actually be learning?
Teachers do not deserve such unnecessary pressure. What happens when an unsatisfactory teacher happens to have students who naturally test well? With the Teacher Excellence Fund, these teachers would be rewarded with a bonus that hardworking, esteemed teachers with low-scoring students would not receive.
There has to be a better way to distinguish a highly effective teacher from a developing or ineffective teacher. The Common Core standards are still so new; Cuomo should first let teachers get used to them before he tries the Teacher Excellence Fund.
Kelly Lyons, Hicksville
Veterans' pensions should be off-limits
I am very disappointed that our U.S. senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, voted to limit the pension growth of our retired veterans ["Small cut in pensions are a careful federal trim," Editorial, Jan. 10].
Veterans have already done their part. Did Congress do its part and take a cut in pay or benefits? How about Congress cutting out department conferences?
I can think of a lot more places to cut, but not our vets. These senators have lost my vote.
Ann Mancuso, Port Crane