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Letter: Common Core is worth every effort

I watch with some bewilderment as a great debate rages on about the Common Core [" 'Opt-out' gets in," News, May 27]. As teachers, we are three years into implementing it in our classrooms. We suddenly find ourselves in a conversation that often does not take into account what the Common Core standards look like in our schools.

Allow me to share the view from inside.

As a librarian and professional development coordinator in East Moriches, I have been lucky enough to witness a smart implementation of the Common Core. My colleagues feel more guided and supported than ever before. Gone are the days of racing to finish the textbook before June. Now, we can finally dig in and pursue a deeper understanding of the most critical skills students will need for success.

Common Core's focus on building critical problem-solving skills has empowered me to put lessons in the hands of my students. With my support, they become more invested in the topics, open up to discussion, and have come to rely on teamwork as a source of learning. Research projects and assignments have been transformed from a collection of facts to a synthesis of information.

I hope that every teacher can come to appreciate the value and opportunity of the Common Core. This is hard work, and we cannot underestimate the value of support, development and resources for educators throughout the implementation of these strong academic standards.

Common Core is worth every effort.

Emily Peterson, Center Moriches

Purcell represents statesmanlike past

Nassau County lost a true statesman when Fran Purcell passed away ["Honoring Purcell," News, May 23]. He was the epitome of what it meant to be a public servant -- to serve the people -- rather than a politician desperate for voter approval.

He served with distinction as a village trustee, mayor, assemblyman, supervisor and eventually county executive. For nearly four decades, he enriched the lives of many county residents and left a profound impact on Nassau County.

I never had the opportunity to meet Purcell, but I've often met people in the county who worked for him. In 2011, while conducting research on county politics, I wrote him to request an interview, and over the course of a week, we spoke on the telephone twice. He was an open book. "Ask me anything," he said.

He shared his philosophy of government: putting the people first.

"If you do good government, the politics will fall into place," he told me.

During Purcell's time in elected office, public trust in government was at an all-time high, ranging between 60 and 70 percent. Nowadays, that number lingers slightly above 15 percent. The people of my generation never had a Fran Purcell to admire and for that, we are at a tremendous loss.

Michael Kaplan, Massapequa

Good things come from curbs on NSA

I read the story about how the House of Representatives finally passed a bill to ostensibly protect our freedom of expression from the National Security Agency's blanket interception and recording of our communications ["House approves curb on NSA," News, May 23]. The Associated Press story said the bill actually provides little protection for us. However, two positive things seem to have occurred.

First, there is tacit recognition that Edward Snowden, the leaker of official documents, looks more like a patriot, not a criminal or traitor. Those documents demonstrated the mendacity of many of our officials and the unconstitutional things the NSA has been doing.

Second, this bill lends weight to the argument that this is not a debate over security versus privacy. Millions of Americans and their families who live on the economic edge of society -- who lack nutritious food, good health care and meaningful employment -- are not made more secure by the government listening to their phone calls.

Society is more secure when its people and their children lead healthy, fulfilled lives that inspire them to bless their country, not to deride it.

Robert M. Goldberg, Jericho

Kids are missing out on scouting

For political reasons I don't fully understand, membership in the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts has gone way down in the last few years. I am 12 years old and a Boy Scout, and I would like to let people know what they are missing.

In scouting, I have learned many new things and techniques, such as wilderness survival, knife safety, how to start a fire, cooking and the importance of citizenship. I have also done many fun things, such as snow tubing, archery and even staying overnight on a battleship.

With friends I've made in scouting, I've had some of the best times of my life camping, biking and fishing. I think it's sad that, because of political reasons, there are boys who are missing out on this wonderful experience.

Jacob Belyea, Port Jefferson

Editor's note: The writer is a tenderfoot with Boy Scout Troop 362.