Newsday's editorial "New paths to graduation" [April 30] argues for changing the New York State global history and geography Regents exam from a requirement to an option for students who focus on math and science or vocational tracks. The editorial has a flawed premise, in that it elevates a career pathway over the most important office in America: that of informed citizen. As Thomas Jefferson said, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free . . . it expects what never was and never will be."
In a nation of immigrants, situated in a globally interdependent world, with a military deployed in more than 150 countries, it's hard to figure out why we would need to put less emphasis on becoming knowledgeable about the world.
On the other hand, maybe this editorial is not so surprising. The day in which the editorial appeared, out of 96 pages, Newsday devoted 1.25 pages to world news and 19 pages to sports. Of course, after public education, Jefferson thought that newspapers would be a bulwark of democracy.
Andrea S. Libresco, Hempstead
Editor's note: The writer is an associate professor in the School of Education, Health and Human Services at Hofstra University.
State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. says eliminating this exam will be good because it will give the students more options in science, math and technology.
But is there a more sinister reason? The state Education Department is desperate to demonstrate that the strategies it has put into place are working. How else to do this than by eliminating what many educators recognize as one of the more challenging tests?
Emphasis in instruction has moved away from content to developing rote skills and "prepping" for the test. Students need to be better rounded, and we do ourselves a disservice when we marginalize the study of history. One doesn't artificially raise standards by removing a challenge. Standards are raised when we help students overcome challenges.
Those of us who lived through the last set of Regents reforms, when then-Education Commissioner Richard Mills decided that every student would receive a Regents diploma, know that the level of the Regents exam dropped tremendously.
Brian Dowd, Massapequa
Editor's note: The writer is the co-president of the Long Island Council for the Social Studies.
The global history Regents examination is the culmination of two years of high school instruction in the history of and the cultures of countries other than the United States.
As a college and secondary school educator, as well as having previously been an executive in financial institutions and at a government regulatory agency, I believe that the vast majority of students today will seek and, I hope, find jobs within the global economy. Before students can use those skills in math and science that are so frantically touted by politicians, our students will need to be able to communicate and interact with people from around the world.
Sadly, Americans have limited facility with other languages and less understanding and awareness of history and other cultures than Europeans and Asians. As such, the content of the global history curriculum is of such importance that it is folly for New York State to delete this exam (and possibly eventually the course itself) from graduation requirements.
Michael Serif, Oakdale
Editor's note: The writer is an adjunct professor of accounting at Dowling College.