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Letter: Court gives wealthy 'a megaphone'

It was with dismay that I read of the Supreme Court's decision to lift restrictions on political campaign donations ["Big money vs. free speech," Editorial, April 3].

Yes, we have freedom of speech with this decision, freedom for the 1 percent. The court has given the 1 percent a megaphone. To paraphrase George Orwell, some donors are now more equal than others.

Eva Dolan, Farmingdale

Common Core materials flawed

As a former high school English teacher, I see great value in the Common Core standards, especially in their emphasis on the close reading of rigorous texts [" 'Opt out' momentum," News, April 5]. I don't want to comment on the issue of testing, but as standards, I believe the Common Core gets it right.

However, when a teacher asked my advice about teaching "Romeo and Juliet" using the required Common Core-scripted lessons at EngageNY, the state Education Department website, I was appalled. The first lesson asks students to look at the 14-line prologue and instructs teachers to have students listen to "a masterful reading" of the prologue for fluency and comprehension.

So, I clicked the link, and guess what? It's not so masterful. There is a careless wording error, and the reading is flat and will certainly turn off students.

The rest of the 10-page lesson on these 14 lines is also complicated and misguided and sucks the energy and beauty out of the language. Nowhere in the lesson does it have students speaking those words, nor does it point out that these opening lines form a perfect sonnet.

I pity those teachers whose English departments require them to use these scripts instead of their own experience and learning to create their own "masterful" ways of teaching.

Michael LoMonico, Stony Brook

Editor's note: The writer is a senior consultant on national education for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington.

Educate Americans for high-tech jobs

Two news stories make me wonder just where this country is headed.

On one hand, the U.S. Senate voted to reinstate jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed ["Senate votes to resurrect jobless benefits," News, April 8].

Yet, because of a tech talent shortage, the government has issued 85,000 H-1B visas for foreign engineers, computer programmers and other skilled workers ["Tech talent shortage," Business, April 8].

Maybe if instead of spending billions on unneeded weapons, this country spent the money on quality education for its citizens, we wouldn't be in this position.

Thomas Smith, Jamesport

Fire Island dune project is protective

There are several questionable points in your editorial "Surmounting shifting shores" [April 6].

One particular sentence stands out: "The bigger issue is how to really safeguard the South Shore mainland from flooding, which is caused primarily by water coming into Great South Bay through its inlets."

It seems clear to me that if left to nature, the Atlantic Ocean would eventually break down Fire Island into many islets, all separated by inlets that allow ocean water to pour into the Great South Bay -- further threatening the mainland that Newsday argues to protect. One safeguard is the continuous land mass that Fire Island represents; the Fire Island dune and beach project would restore and preserve this.

Newsday seems to believe that nature will work to Long Island's benefit by consistently and dutifully rolling sand into the middle of the barrier island and eventually allowing the dunes to reform on their own -- a debatable assertion.

Newsday does not appear to consider that nature will also work against mainland Long Island by opening up additional inlets throughout the Fire Island land mass. Superstorm Sandy created three such additional inlets of which two, located within state parks, were closed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

To paraphrase a saying, Newsday plans; nature laughs.

John Adams, Cherry Grove

Recharge basins invite mosquitoes

In regard to the recent letter "Concern about mosquito season" [April 1], does anybody really care?

I have been hearing and reading about the mosquito problem on Long Island for as long as I can remember. I hear advice for homeowners to make sure there is no standing water on their properties. Well, I believe that towns, counties and the state should heed this message for their properties, too.

With all the new building on Long Island, they have to make a place for the water to go. That means there needs to be additional recharge basins to direct runoff water. These are fine as long as they are maintained. However, many are overgrown with trees, whose leaves clog basins, making them havens for mosquitoes.

I have two of these basins next to my home and have been trying for years to get them cleaned out so they can drain properly.

Thomas J. Herrmann, Hauppauge