Letter: Parents' objections to Core are valid

People protest at the Common Core Education Forum

People protest at the Common Core Education Forum at Ward Melville High School on Nov. 12, 2013. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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In response to "The deeper fears of parents" [Editorial, April 4], Newsday's editorial board gets it wrong once again.

There is no basis to assume that parents are opting out because of "fear," "anxiety" or "terror." The use of such strong language makes it clear that Newsday has an agenda to convince readers that the Common Core is good for this country.

I tutor elementary school students who take these tests, and I can assure you that the tests are not aligned with the developmental readiness of an average child. Newsday assumes that the creators of these tests are professionals who know children, but many do not.

Newsday makes another giant leap in assuming that the test is legitimate; it is not. Last year, more than 70 percent of students failed, and that was partly because cutoff scores were raised.

Have the editors of Newsday ever seen the actual tests? I doubt it, because they are top secret. Even school board members can't get their hands on them.

I can tell you from experience with test-prep questions that the test is grossly unfair for an average student or below. The test is too long, it's ambiguous, and the questions are irrelevant to most children. To ask a third-grader about the mood of the author or the values being reinforced by a story is absurd. Vocabulary is used that young children don't understand and teachers are not allowed to explain during the tests. How is that fair? Most adults would have a difficult time giving the correct answers.

In math, it's even worse. Elementary textbooks aligned with the Common Core include algebra, which in the past was usually reserved for upper-grade students. They are more ready for more abstract concepts. I have done math problems with children that involve five and six steps before arriving at an answer.

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A steady diet of failure is not good for any child.

Phil Tamberino, South Huntington

Editor's note: The writer is a retired teacher.


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