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Letter: Make students and schools accountable

This is a first-grade classroom at Branch Brook

This is a first-grade classroom at Branch Brook Elementary School in Smithtown at the end of the day Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

According to Michael Hynes, superintendent of the Patchogue-Medford school district, the federal Department of Education has “ruined education” for decades, tested children “to death” and reduced teachers to “numbers” [“U.S. Dept. of Ed should be abolished,” Letters, Dec. 31]. He goes on to say that “local control” would best educate children. Really?

On Long Island we have multiple districts supported by the highest school taxes in New York. What is the result? Sixty-two percent of students entering community colleges nationally have to take and pay for remedial courses in math and English. American students place behind more than 20 other nations in international tests.

The federal government is trying to improve education through Common Core goals, and a majority of New York teachers supported them in a recent survey by State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. The federal Race to the Top incentives were offered to encourage districts to adopt critical thinking goals, which are important in a democratic society and for students’ success.

As a retired English and journalism teacher, I support those goals and accountability for students, teachers, administrators and school districts. I support states facing financial consequences if more students opt out in 2016. The federal Title I program gives $45 million annually to Long Island districts.

Then, the teachers union will have only itself to blame for possible layoffs.

Carol Swenson, Lake Grove