School board reversal on 6th-graders whipsaws community

As a former superintendent of schools in Plainedge, I read with great interest and equal disappointment regarding the middle school dilemma taking place in the Massapequa school district [“6th-graders stuck in middle,” News, July 25]. The emphasis on whether the sixth grade move to the middle school is a good one shouldn’t be the issue.

Buildings alone do not make for a quality education. Excellent leadership and effective teachers make the difference. The school board already made the earlier decision to send the sixth graders on. That should be the focus. The board needs to stop playing politics with the emotions of students and their parents.

Perhaps most alarming was to read that a school board member, Joseph LaBella, referred to “goofy kids” when explaining his opposition, saying that some of the younger kids may be picked on. Can we really trust the decision-making of a person who refers to students in this unacceptable and disrespectful way?

Philip S. Cicero, North Massapequa

 

A a former Massapequa teacher, I feel compelled to address the reversal of a well-planned, educationally sound decision to restructure Berner Middle School into a true middle school. It has been tragically and selfishly destroyed by a new school board majority, not the school administration.

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Newsday quotes new board member Brian Butler, who ran on a campaign to reverse the plan. He stated that moving sixth graders to this model would cause a precipitous drop in academic performance and emotional and social behaviors. This is a stretch.

While there could be a minor initial drop academically, there is generally a rebound within two years, and thereafter, studies show that performance excels. What stunts social and emotional behaviors is an inability of adults in charge to allow children to grow and learn how to make clear decisions on their own and respect that they can.

Olivia Salina, Eastport