Mixed signals from local congressman

Earlier this year, I sent Rep. Lee Zeldin an email expressing my frustration with the Trump administration’s response — or lack thereof — to Russia’s unprecedented interference in our democratic process [“Emails show Russian contact,” News, July 12].

I was encouraged by Zeldin’s prompt response. He expressed complete support for the investigation and stated that we “cannot turn a blind eye to Russia’s increased aggression and meddling around the rest of the world.”

So naturally, I was shocked and disturbed a few weeks later when I received a letter from Zeldin thanking me for expressing my “support for President Trump” and berating people who “blindly disagree.”

When I called to inquire why I received a letter thanking me for an action I had never taken, a staffer explained that the letter must have been sent in error. However, there are issues to unpack regarding how Zeldin addresses his constituents.

On the one hand, there is the deferential, measured congressman who says he is listening to his constituents’ concerns; on the other is a partisan politician who dismisses his critics.

Kara Thomas, Holtsville

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Support is available to pregnant women

A letter writer challenges those who object to terms such as “pro-choice” and “abortion rights” to focus on “proper medical care for all pregnant women, regardless of social status” [“Thoughts on ‘unborn child’ headline,” July 10]. They do.

Many volunteer pro-life organizations on Long Island and throughout the country offer practical, caring assistance to pregnant women in difficult circumstances, both before and after their babies are born.

They include the Life Center of Long Island, Birthright, Mommas House and Catholic Charities’ Maria Regina Residence.

Jane I. Gilroy, Merrick

Balloon litter can endanger local birds

I watch an osprey nest near Southold on a private camera. The resident osprey pair, George and Gracie, are nurturing two healthy chicks again this year. This camera has been functioning for three seasons. So far, this pair has fledged five young osprey from this location.

In year one, two chicks had to be rescued because their talons became entangled in discarded fishing line brought to the nest by the parent. PSEG Long Island saved the day with a bucket truck and naturalist on board.

Recently, the birds brought into their home a really dangerous piece of garbage: An entire balloon with its equally dangerous ribbon.

Please revisit the topic discussed in “Outlaw the release of helium balloons” [Letters, July 13]. This is a hazard to wildlife, when we humans are thoughtless and lazy. Thank you so very much from a wildlife lover.

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Marguerite Iannone, Nesconset

Tests are just a small part of schooling

The op-ed “Our damaging emphasis on testing” [Opinion, June 30] was bold in drawing comparisons to Russian communism, but the reasoning fails to match the rhetoric.

Personalized learning and an emphasis on play are absolutely beneficial for New York’s students, and in no way does standardized testing replace that. Testing has always been around as a form of checking up. The current state tests take up less than 1 percent of annual instructional time, and tests are getting even shorter. They’re here to stay.

Testing and standards emphasize equal opportunity and allow us to measure student progress. Before the implementation of the current high standards in New York, thousands of kids — particularly from low-income and minority backgrounds — were allowed to simply slip through the cracks of our education system.

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The new “normal” isn’t about teaching only to the math and English Language Arts tests. As a matter of fact, if teachers are teaching to the test, and administrators are encouraging or directing such instruction, they are failing to follow best known practices. That has always been to set goals and give teachers the resources they need to help students reach them. Standardized tests are just one very small part of helping every student succeed.

Charles T. Russo, East Moriches

Editor’s note: The writer is the superintendent of schools in East Moriches.