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Letter: Education reform is wrongheaded

Classrooms across Long Island were empty on Thursday.

Classrooms across Long Island were empty on Thursday. Check our listings of delayed openings, closures and cancellations to see what's in store for Friday. Credit: Daniel Brennan

As a newly retired fifth-grade teacher and local union officer, I find the cavalier attitude toward standardized tests outrageous. The public hasn't seen these tests because they are embargoed.

After working closely with 10- and 11-year-old children for 21 years, I know their capabilities. The recent changes to the exams are absurd. Words like precipices, unrelenting, billowing and lofty are not words that a fifth-grader can reasonably be expected to understand. I worked hard to develop my students' vocabulary. Yet no matter how much growth they may have achieved during the school year, that is not what these tests measure. All teachers are asking for is fair, reliable and valid tests.

About five years ago, my district participated in a BOCES program that provided each teacher with statistical analysis of test results. Looking over these reports, teachers could identify patterns to help them improve their instruction. No such information is provided now because of these flawed tests.

Newsday should obtain copies of these exams, print them, and allow an informed debate about reform.

Suzanne Prenderville, Amityville

As a young mother and the wife of a teacher, I think that the governor's reform plan is faulty. It fails to address the many other factors that contribute to a child's overall academic performance and unfairly places the blame solely on teachers.

These harsh reforms will only discourage teachers from staying in our high-needs school districts, hence hurting our children even more.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has no background in education or how a classroom operates. His reform model should not even be considered!

We need to remember that our children are our future and that the keys to their success start with our public education system.

Jennifer Imhoff, Huntington Station

I've been a public school teacher for 26 years. I teach forensic criminology, general chemistry and Regents chemistry. My job requires that I be at school until 2:25 p.m., but I stay most days until 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., working with students who have missed schoolwork because of poor attendance, are academically challenged and have had to miss my class to visit with a resource teacher, or who simply need assistance.

I have these children for 39 minutes a day. I cannot follow them home to make them do homework, nor can I pick them up so they make it to school on time. This is why they have parents. I work very hard for my salary. I make every effort to facilitate learning and foster a warm and nurturing learning environment. Quite often, I purchase supplies for activities with my own money.

I resent the attacks that the governor has made against me and my colleagues around the state. I find it repulsive that he believes that a teacher who has students for 39 minutes a day is responsible for all the effort and ability of this child. This is not an educational problem, but one of a family lifestyle that has allowed parents to drop the ball and blame the teacher and the school for their own and their child's shortcomings.

Janet Nickel-Evola, West Babylon