An undated file photo of an empty classroom.

An undated file photo of an empty classroom. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

According to the article "More may 'opt out' " [News, Aug. 9], the scores this year on state English and math exams dropped more than 40 percent on Long Island and statewide, leading some parents to promote excluding children next time.

It is disturbing that parents and some educators are not taking responsibility for the fact that 42 percent of high school graduates must take remedial English and math courses before enrolling in community college courses for credit. What have these remedial students been doing for 12 years?

In addition, our students are testing far below students in Asian and European countries on international tests. How competitive will America be in the global marketplace?

What is going to happen to our country when many of our high school graduates do not have adequate communication and math skills?

The rise in educational standards has to come from the state and federal governments. Local school districts are politically influenced and controlled by the communities they serve, where residents are concerned about their property values if their students perform poorly.

As a 28-year Long Island English and journalism teacher, now retired, I applaud the new testing based on more rigorous Common Core standards.

One of my students from Spain said I was his toughest teacher, but in Spain I would have been one of his easiest. That's sad for America.

Carol Swenson, Lake Grove

This October marks the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Education report "A Nation at Risk," which accurately predicted that the "rising tide of mediocrity" in America's public schools would produce the first generation in American history to be less educated than the one that preceded it. Festooned with recommendations and entreaties, it was utterly ignored, save for some brief ballyhoo among the tenured deadwood and entitlement-minded educrats.

Seen in light of that 1983 report, the Common Core curriculum might be seen as the first honest endeavor to reform education in more than a quarter of a century. There's much to be said for and against the core. The problem is that its implementation, instead of deeming standardized testing one of several valuable diagnostic tools, merely recapitulates the older teach-to-the-test mindset that was, in part, at the root of the rising tide of mediocrity.

I attended high school in the 1970s on Long Island and was in all the advanced Regents courses. Questions I presented to my teachers were generally stopped dead in their tracks with, "Don't worry about that, it won't be on the Regents." Intellectual curiosity was discouraged.

Because of the teach-to-the-test mentality, I felt I was trained to be a game-show contestant rather than cultivated to be an educated person. I fear the Common Core might fall victim to the same fate, not because of its own shortcomings inasmuch as a deeply entrenched standardized testing mindset.

Paul Manton, Levittown


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months