"Academic year disrupted" [News, Nov. 18] addressed the numerous school days lost because of the recent storms. What immediately came to mind was the relentless campaign of support for education -- for quality education and more teachers -- by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, State Senate Education Committee chairman John Flanagan (R-East Northport), State Education Commissioner John B. King. Jr., and many high-profile business people throughout the country. The goal, of course, is to improve the educational outcomes in the United States.
Some Long Island districts have chosen to cancel some or all of the winter break to make up the days. These are the members of the education vocation that I would call the professionals. Their actions show logic, passion and ethics -- not simply certification.
Others, sadly most, chose to wait to see what King has to say. The chief operating officer of Western Suffolk BOCES, Michael Mensch, is quoted as worrying about the economy "if people don't hit the ski slopes." Really? That's your concern? These are the districts, and people, I would call unprofessional.
Why should I respond to the call for more investment in education if these educators refuse to invest themselves?
I would like to see the individual teachers become vocal on this subject and demand that their unions, administration and school boards support the 180-day school year by modifying the winter break and other reductions in scheduled time off. These teachers would be showing their true professionalism and bring some validity to the worn and waning rallying cry of "it's for the kids!"
Christopher D. Reilly, Coram
Our students go to class, as mandated by the teachers union contract, for 180 days, while students in parts of Asia and Europe go for 220 days or more. Perhaps that is why U.S. students rank 25th in math, etc.
Instead of wrestling over whether we should reduce the requirement to 170 days, we should be thinking about how to move up from 25th place. Teachers should be asking for more time in the classroom.
Is a shorter school year the answer to America competing globally? We need more intelligent solutions.
Rich Adrian, Huntington
I read that our fearless politicians are thinking about an exemption to the number of days that schools are supposed to be open this year. The only exemption that should be given is to the schools that are so badly damaged that they simply cannot open.
If our politicians give in to the powerful teachers union and grant a statewide exemption, I want a refund on my school taxes.
Joseph Grella, Huntington Station
Recently, we lost nine days of school due to superstorm Sandy. From my understanding, the only way my school can make up these days is during February break. In addition to this being a very important time to appreciate past U.S. presidents who have formed this country into what it is today, it is also going to be a waste of a week with a large portion of my classmates and my teachers going on vacation.
Isn't it possible to interpret Presidents Week as too important to allow for schools to be in session? Without the presidents, we would not have the great life full of opportunities and dreams that this country gives us?
Corey Cook, Huntington Station
Editor's note: The writer is a student at Walt Whitman High School.
I find it very disheartening that the chief operating officer of Western Suffolk BOCES would say that the ski slopes would suffer an economic impact should the schools be required to make up days during the winter recess. Now I understand why they call it the dumbing down of America.
God forbid we try to at least go to school 180 days a year, which in itself is less than most western civilizations.
Dana Hamilton, Melville