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Letter: Slower embrace for Common Core

As a former teacher, assistant principal and principal for more than 50 years in the New York City school system, I was pleased to read "Tilles defends Common Core" [News, Oct. 3]. Although I thoroughly agree that the Common Core stresses high standards, I also feel that we are losing sight of that with an emphasis on testing, data and paperwork.

I work with student teachers in two city schools. The implementation all at once of new reading and math curricula, a new evaluation system, and a new certification process is overwhelming for teachers and supervisors. Most teachers feel they are spending so much time grading tests and collecting and entering data that they have little time to actually teach. There is also a lack of emphasis on science, social studies, art, music and physical education.

I feel that whoever is responsible for writing these new curricula are not familiar with the daily issues that arise in each classroom. Are they educators? Or are they businessmen? Children are not products or commodities, they are human beings. We want to nurture them and afford them opportunities to enhance their critical thinking skills. We cannot do this in an atmosphere of frustration.

I see wonderful teachers losing their enthusiasm and passion daily. It hurts me to see a wonderful, creative profession losing its momentum. I fear that we will lose an entire generation of students if we do not stop, breathe and think of a better way to do this.

Dianne G. Sandler, Whitestone

I concur with Roger Tilles of the New York State Board of Regents. The Common Core does make students think, but what they are thinking is, "Why has our education been hijacked by for-profit corporations such as CTB/McGraw-Hill and NCS Pearson Inc.?"

Steve Freeman, North Bellmore

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Long Beach Classroom Teachers Association.

Why is overtime in pensions?

In your article "Prosecutors wrap up disability testimony" [News, Oct. 3], you state that Frederick Catalano increased his Long Island Rail Road pension by working 1,489 hours of overtime in 17 months.

My question is, why would you pay a retiree overtime for the rest of his life by including overtime in his pension?

Ed Kollar, Lindenhurst

Retain separate Suffolk offices

Combining the comptroller and treasurer offices in Suffolk County was one of the worst governmental ideas in the last decade ["Carpenter's job saved as court nixes proposal," News, Oct. 9]. There is absolutely no reason to combine these two offices, other than to continue the political careers of County Executive Steve Bellone and Comptroller Joseph Sawicki.

Bellone would have removed a potential opponent, Treasurer Angie Carpenter, for his re-election race in 2015. And Sawicki, whose term ends in 2014 due to term limits, could stay in office another 12 years because the combined job would be a new position. This is such an obvious political deal, and it should not be tolerated by the voters of Suffolk County.

If Sawicki and Bellone were searching for savings and sensible government changes, then why would the treasurer and her deputies be eliminated, while Sawicki's staff would be unaffected? Wouldn't it make more sense to leave a seasoned, trained deputy treasurer in Riverhead, instead of relocating and retraining one of Sawicki's deputies?

Carpenter has been doing an outstanding job, and the system of checks and balances in place should not be altered to further two men's political ambitions.

Joseph Poerio, Ronkonkoma

Editor's note: The writer was the chief deputy comptroller from 1985 to 2004.

Step increases aren't a savings

I challenge the belief that step pay increases are a form of deferred income and a savings for the school districts ["Step increases ease financial burden," Letters, Oct. 2]. It is neither earned income nor an expense to the school district until you have performed the services.

Step increases are a defined contractual future raise in salary based on length of service. I suspect that two letter writers -- the president of the Lawrence Teachers Association and the other a retired Miller Place teacher -- are simply echoing a union entitlement mantra that attempts to minimize the annual growth in teachers' salaries in the public's mind.

Labor agreements for teachers basically consist of three major components: 1) a salary percentage increase, which is applied to salary and step levels; 2) step increase levels, which are based on length of service; 3) a column shift, which is an increase in salary based on education credits earned.

Many teachers unions are working without contracts. I suspect they're waiting for the economic environment that doesn't include a 1.66 percent tax levy cap so they can push through more favorable terms with the school board. Why are they able to do this? Because of the protection of the Triborough Amendment and the guaranteed raises it allows, they don't necessarily have to negotiate now.

Christopher D. Reilly, Coram

Editor's note: The writer ran unsuccessfully for the Longwood school board in 2012.