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Letter: Common Core relies on test scores

I would like to invite writer Craig Johnson ["For students, Common Core is critical," Opinion, Nov. 8] to observe a Long Island elementary school class that is implementing this curriculum. Although Johnson states that the goal of Common Core is not about testing, I'm uncertain whether he truly understands how the curriculum's goals will be achieved.

Examining data is just one way to determine effective learning. The best practice is ongoing observation of our students' performance, along with countless decisions based on our assessments. It's plain for teachers to see that our young students are more than a test score.

The reality is that the value of the time and money we are spending to put the Common Core into practice is measured by a test score. The cost is not just money. I urge decision-makers to remember the cost of crushing children's natural curiosity, paid by testing them into the ground.

Rissa Sable Zimmerman, Dix Hills

Editor's note: The writer teaches third grade at the Vanderbilt Elementary School in the Half Hollow Hills school district.

Don't pull plug on Obamacare plans

I retired six months ago at 66 to care for my wife, 62, who has multiple sclerosis ["More enroll in NY's exchange," News, Nov. 13]. She is covered under my former employer's health insurance, until she is eligible for Medicare, because New York mandates 36 months of coverage under COBRA. We pay $701 a month.

This week, we signed on to the state website to explore Obamacare coverage. We were able to navigate the Web pages despite some minor glitches. With one call to the help number, which was answered promptly by a knowledgeable person, we were able to complete the application and move to the plans and costs available. To my surprise, we qualified for the "platinum" coverage, with no deductible, at a maximum cost of $570 per month.

If we sign up for the new plan, my wife will be removed from COBRA. If the Republican effort to eliminate Obamacare succeeds in the next three years, we cannot go back to COBRA, and I will be left paying for my wife's care out of pocket.

It seems that I am stuck paying $701 each month until Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his tea party supporters can assure me that they will not sabotage a worthwhile program. They must work in a bipartisan way to make it better, not destroy it.

Richard Ross, Huntington

Too quick to judge accused gym teacher

As a retired teacher who taught middle school physical education for 31 years, I read with interest the story about Aaron Kozlowski ["Prosecution of teacher dropped," News, Nov. 7].

It's frightening that a story told by four middle school boys, without any proof, can lead to a teacher's arrest, a police mug shot and a news story. It appears that Kozlowski was guilty until proven innocent.

The teacher has taught for nine years without incident, according to the story. Police investigators should be more interested in using common sense before they ruin a person's reputation.

Jay Iaquinta, Wantagh

Suffolk budget raids water fund

I want my money back.

The Suffolk County Legislature passed the 2014 budget by taking $32.8 million from the drinking water protection program to plug shortfalls resulting from legislators' years of budget mismanagement ["Bellone's debt plan rejected," News, Nov. 5].

That money comes from a portion of the quarter-cent sales tax add-on passed by Suffolk voters in referendums. According to the county's Web page, the money is committed to ground and surface water quality improvement and land stewardship. The legislature chose to ignore the will of the people, the letter of the referendums and the spirit of the program.

Over the years, the county has chipped away at this fund. I figure that between car purchases, home improvements, dining out, etc., my quarter-cent contribution comes to about $125. I want that back. I can no longer trust our elected representatives to use the money for the purposes intended, and for which I voted. Now it's a money grab, and I want to grab my money back.

Bill Toedter, Southold

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the North Fork Environmental Council, a nonprofit advocacy group.

NYC mayor mustn't turn back clock

Regarding "Suburbs need de Blasio's love, too" [Opinion, Nov. 7], my daughter attends law school downtown, works in midtown and lives uptown. She travels throughout Manhattan and the outside boroughs regularly. I grew up in Queens in the 1960s and '70s, and I remember what a different city it was back then. The danger was very real, and the subways were filthy.

I raised my children on Long Island and work in local law enforcement. As they grew up, I regularly exposed them to the wonders of the greatest city in the world, and gradually observed a cleaner, safer and less intrusive environment.

With all my annoying suspicions and "what if's," I like to think I gave them a certain street sense to protect them from potential dangers that come from enjoying our city.

I hope "our" new mayor's vision stays clear so he can see when the policies he sets forth become something he may never have intended them to be. I want to continue to visit and enjoy the city I love so much.

Nancy Cunningham, Old Bethpage