A student works on a problem in geometry, one of...

A student works on a problem in geometry, one of 10 Regents exams subjects. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Civics classes more important than ever

I stand with Gloria Sesso, co-president of the Long Island Council for the Social Studies, in arguing for retaining the U.S. History Regents examination [“New look at exams,” News, July 24].

In 1848, Horace Mann deemed it imperative that “citizens of a Republic understand something of the true nature and functions of the government under which they live.”

At a time of grave threats to our rights, our Constitution, our democracy and our planet, it’s hard to see what is gained by telling citizens that knowledge of U.S. history and government is expendable.

 — Andrea S. Libresco, Mineola

The writer is a distinguished professor in teaching excellence at Hofstra University.

Everyone does not always do “a good job.” Failure must occur if for no other reason than demonstrating lack of proficiency requiring remediation. Laboratory experiments are subject to failure, and experience is gained.

Yes, there are those who are not academically inclined and instead vocationally directed. It is necessary for society to aid them in their pursuits, but all must be taught not only the three R’s but also our history, civics, and evaluation techniques. This is so our democracy, now under attack by internal reactionary forces, can survive.

The Regents requirements must remain as a cornerstone, and certain proficiencies must be demonstrated for granting an academic diploma. General diplomas can and should be granted to those who complete a minimum course of study and pass on a non-Regents exam level.

 — Richard M. Frauenglass, Huntington

  

I studied for days preparing for the Regents exams from 1965-67. I had notes, texts and research papers. It was a test to see what I had actually learned from classes.

It enabled others to assess my learnings. It is the only exam that can equally judge all students from all areas across the state to see what they have learned.

Other assessments can possibly be factored into graduating from high school, but eliminating the Regents exam would give too much subjective judgment to the schools and not fairly give a chance to succeed to those who learned the necessary material.

 — Adrienne Horowitz, Old Bethpage

It’s often been contended that the prime lesson of history is that we don’t learn from history. Replacing thorough preparation for the history Regents exam, which is not federally mandated, with “multiple pathways” for high school graduation would simply exacerbate and perpetuate the dilemma.

Requiring students, instead, to simply present an oral research report to outside evaluators, as proposed, is a poor substitute to truly grasping the key elements, via Regents exams, of the state curriculum. It’s more relevant today than at any time.

— Fred Barnett, Lake Grove

Church and state must stay separate

The pastor who offered his opinion on the complex issue of public prayer should expand on his use of “bona fide” [“A different take on prayer decision,” Letters, July 25].

Who decides whose beliefs are genuine and whose are not? Challenging personal beliefs has divided many a society, and certainly none more so than the United States.

If we accept the separation of church and state as the intent of our Founding Fathers, why are we even having this debate?

Government must stay out of religion, and religion must stay out of government. The practice of faith and honoring beliefs belongs in the heart, in the home and in a house of worship, period.

 — Dorothy Jacobs, Island Park

Ranked choice voting ends ‘spoiler effect’

The secondary headline in Lane Filler’s column “Zeldin petitions merit strong backlash” said that “legitimate third-party ballot access is an equally worrisome problem” [Opinion, July 21]. This is true and can be called the “spoiler effect.”

In 2000, Ralph Nader (spoiler) probably helped Texas Gov. George W. Bush win the presidency over Vice President Al Gore, after, in 1992, H. Ross Perot (spoiler) possibly caused Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton to defeat President George H.W. Bush.

It is important that the views of more than just the two major parties be heard and discussed. It is time we changed our voting system so that the “spoiler effect” can be eliminated. This can be accomplished by using a form of ranked choice voting, in which voters rank candidates by preference. Some states already do this in local elections, and it should be done for all of our elections.

 — Stewart Karp, Roslyn Heights

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