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Letters: Debate flares over school tests

I agree with the parents boycotting the exams for young children ["More say 'no' to state testing," News, March 24].

The testing is unfair to the kids. It stresses them out, along with the teachers and other faculty. The exams take away from class time, and some students are just not good at taking exams.

But I disagree with having the students who opt out of the exams just sit there and do nothing. They are kids and deserve to do something with their time other than stare at a wall. It is like a punishment.

I'm not the only one who feels this way. In the story, Port Washington parent Diane Livingston is quoted saying, "Standardized test prep has hijacked the classroom" and "Children are simply learning to take multiple-choice tests."

Some school administrators also agree with the parents who want to opt out of the testing. Is it really worth putting children through this?

Sarah Bosworth, Lindenhurst

Diane Livingston claims it's "torture" for students to take the Common Core exams. I hope this mother has no more expectation for her children than that they become fast-food clerks. They are unlikely to be able to sit for state board exams should they want to become doctors, lawyers or civil service employees.

Those state exams often involve many days of tough testing, and rightly so. I wouldn't want to go to a doctor who refused to sit for an exam because it was tough.

Kids need to see what reality is like so they will be prepared for the future. Nothing will be given to them on a silver platter, unless they enter a family-owned business. Children must work hard and learn in school to be successful.

Linda Levy, Levittown

The article "Education funds for NY at risk" [News, March 19] further illustrates why accepting money from the federal government is wrong when it results in relinquishing local control of our public schools.

The "admonition" from the director of the implementation unit of the U.S. Department of Education, with the message that New York must obey national curricula initiatives, should serve as a warning to proceed with caution in the rushed implementation of the Common Core initiative.

Even at the risk of losing a portion of the federal Race to the Top funds, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Legislature should delay, at a minimum, the high-stakes testing for students in grades three through eight. We need more time to get this initiative corrected and on the right footing.

Despite the state's poor rollout of the Common Core learning standards, school districts across the state have been working hard to implement them.

Unlike Georgia, which Newsday reports has had federal funds withheld, New York State has revised its rigorous teacher evaluation system. We are simply asking for a waiver to slow down the implementation to a reasonable pace where educators can raise standards in a way that helps, rather than hurts, children.

Charles A. Leunig, Copiague

Editor's note: The writer is the Copiague schools superintendent.

Service overlap increases taxes

Writer E.J. McMahon disputes Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's contention that New York's thousands of local governments contribute to the state's high taxes ["Cuomo's relentless use of fuzzy math," Opinion, March 24].

McMahon notes that New York's 3,453 local governments -- he subtracts the town-run special districts from Cuomo's figure -- are not more numerous per 1,000 residents than in some low-tax states. But the Long Island Index's analysis suggests that our large number of commissioner-led special districts, as well as our high number of incorporated villages, does lead to higher taxes, as a result of duplication of services and equipment and the loss of any efficiencies of scale.

We analyzed the growth of one homeowner's property taxes, and the results were representative of the general trend. Property taxes in 2000 were $8,034 and rose 61 percent by 2011 to $12,946.

If taxes had risen by the 32 percent rate of inflation instead during that time, the resulting taxes would have been $10,605. So perhaps the 665 local government entities across Long Island that provide basic services -- fire and ambulance, schools, libraries, garbage, water, police, sewers -- do require some reappraisal if we hope to better control our ever-rising property taxes.

Ann Golob, Garden City

Editor's note: The writer is the director of the Long Island Index, an organization that explores and reports on Long Island issues.

Safer school zones with cameras

The writer of "School cameras not about safety" [Letters, March 7] was misinformed.

The speed limit in most residential neighborhoods is 30 mph, not 40. The main reason we have 20-mph speeds posted around schools is to protect our children.

School crossing guards are not there to control traffic, as the writer suggests, only to help children cross the street.

Finally, the writer says that rear-end collisions could be caused by drivers abruptly slowing down when they approach a school. That is hogwash. Many drivers slow down without incident or accident.

I am elated about cameras in school zones. Maybe more people will become more caring of our future: our children.

Kenneth Maxwell, Patchogue