The single most important variable in improving student learning is the effectiveness of the classroom teacher ["Harsh spotlight on teachers colleges," Opinion, Dec. 1].
Today's teachers are faced with numerous challenges in their classrooms every day. Their job is not an easy one. Colleges and universities must clearly do everything possible to make sure they deliver "classroom ready" teachers to prospective employers.
However, higher education can't do it alone. We need the cooperation of local districts in opening their classroom doors to student teachers. This includes giving them the opportunity to work side by side with the most highly effective teachers the district can offer. And it similarly means that those effective teachers welcome and mentor those interested in entering this most important profession.
Once a new teacher secures a position, the school district must do everything it can to guide and retain that person. That mentoring must be real and not something written on paper only to meet a state mandate.
Furthermore, because of today's teaching challenges, new teachers need to be helped beyond the first year. So, before we place the focus of teacher reform solely on the shoulders of schools of education, let's not forget the role and professional responsibilities of personnel in kindergarten through grade 12.
Philip S. Cicero, North Massapequa
Editor's note: The writer is a retired Lynbrook schools superintendent and currently an adjunct professor at Adelphi University's School of Education.
Light sentence for principal?
The story "Ex-principal admits teen sex" [News, Nov. 22] describes a middle school principal who lured a 16-year-old boy to his home. The story says that the man, John O'Mard, expected to get 60 days in jail and 10 years' probation, and must register as a sex offender. The sex was "non-consensual."
That expected sentence seems flagrantly mild. If anything, the fact that he was a school principal should warrant a more severe penalty than if he had been less educated and less prominent.
Robert Wilson, West Islip
Inflating pensions of retiring cops
Regarding "Hundreds set to retire" [News, Dec. 1], it's fiscally irresponsible to schedule unprecedented amounts of overtime for officers who are approaching retirement. They will just use the inflated salaries to retire with six-figure pensions.
Who had this bright idea? This is just another reason why Nassau County will never recover from financial issues.
Chuck Lomino, Plainview
UN is useless at solving problems
The United Nations is criticizing the United States for our policies on policing, torture, Guantanamo Bay and capital punishment ["UN panel criticizes U.S. over torture," News, Nov. 29].
Why doesn't the UN, which is nothing more than an ineffectual, biased, highly paid debating society, do something worthwhile? Stop ethnic cleansing, the killing of non-Muslims in the Middle East, the mutilation of women in many Third World countries, or human trafficking.
The UN doesn't do much because it is pathetic.
Walter McCarthy, Massapequa
Obligation to stop drunken driving
I read "Verdict: Homicide" [News, Nov. 27] about Michael Grasing, who was on trial for killing a teenager while driving drunk. Grasing was was acquitted of second-degree murder but convicted of the lesser charge of aggravated vehicular homicide.
It would be helpful to know where or how Grasing became intoxicated with a blood-alcohol content of .32 percent, which is four times greater than the legal limit. Was he at a bar or restaurant, with a friend or alone?
Isn't there a law that requires public establishments to stop serving patrons and prevent them from driving home if they are intoxicated? No mention of this was made in the article.
Joe Giacoponello, Garden City