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Letters: How to measure, meet student needs

Our kids rank 35th in math among 65 countries ["U.S. students lag," News, Dec. 4]. We rank fifth in spending per student.

In the same edition of Newsday, people are complaining about standardized tests ["Common Core, profit and burnout," Letters, Dec. 4]. We hear people whining that they're unfair, are too difficult and take up too much time. One writer even suggested we boycott the tests. There's a great solution to teach your kids: When things get too difficult, quit.

One retired superintendent wants to eliminate homework. That's like telling baseball players they don't need to practice. Getting an education doesn't start at 9 a.m. and end at 3 p.m.

The purpose of standardized testing isn't to rank students. It's to see how much they've learned. It doesn't matter if they pass or fail. It's to see where they are and where the education system needs to be improved. They shouldn't be "taught to the test." These tests should be given randomly, with no notice as to when or what content will be tested. Only then can we get a true evaluation of our education system.

Chuck Fox, Smithtown

I would like to know how many years of classroom experience state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. and the suits at test publisher NCS Pearson Inc. have. These are the people who want to implement the rigorous Common Core curriculum for all students.

I was a New York City teacher for 28 years, in the classroom and as a literacy specialist. I remember many of my students: The boy who slept all day in class because his mom brought "customers" home at night and kept him awake. The two sisters who came to class every other day because, in winter, they shared one warm coat.

School is not a business, and children are not blueberries that arrive in a box. They come to us rich, poor, gifted, abused, frightened, homeless, confident, rude and brilliant. The Common Core cannot and should not be a one-size-fits-all curriculum. Teachers and parents must work together to provide instruction that is differentiated to meet students' individual needs.

Jackie Brandwein, Oceanside

FDNY forced to become diverse

As a proud retired member of the Fire Department of New York City, I couldn't help but take exception to one point in the news story "Diversity has its day" [Dec. 6].

The comment that the FDNY has been "reserved mostly for white males" really set me back on my heels. Having been hired in 1978, I'm all too familiar with the fact that the standards have been lowered. Federal Judge Charles Sifton ordered the FDNY to hire approximately 35 women, every one of whom failed the competitive physical exam in 1977.

I was always taught to hire the best person for the job. Diversity is a wonderful thing, so long as everyone is playing by the same rules.

Thomas McCarthy, Massapequa Park

Police beating, coverage outrageous

What a disgrace for the Suffolk County Police Department ["Violent end to a chase," News, Dec. 8]. Officer Kenneth Hamilton should be fired and lose his pension.

The SCPD should be ashamed of itself for protecting cops after repeated citizen complaints over 11 years. This only results in the 99 percent of excellent police officers having to overcome this stigma.

Al Lane, Yaphank

This is biased reporting. Newsday filled nine pages on the topic of a person who died following an encounter with the police three years ago. Newsday went so far as to include a long column describing the career of one of the police officers involved in the arrest.

On the other hand, the record of the person the officers were attempting to arrest is reduced to one small paragraph. He had been arrested seven times, and of those, convicted of harassment and disorderly conduct misdemeanors. He also had marijuana and PCP in his bloodstream. When the police stopped him, he resisted arrest.

You have certainly showed a prejudicial approach in reporting this event.

Richard Enright, Middle Island

Wise voter choice to upgrade schools

Taxpayers in the North Shore School District did their homework before the vote on the proposed infrastructure bond .

Voters approved measures to ensure the immediate and long-term integrity of the school district buildings, which will be paid for over 15 years. There will be no tax increase resulting from this construction on school bills, because the cost will be offset by expiring debt.

Opponents tried to claim that the measure included too many items, including some cosmetic and unnecessary repairs. However, this bond issue is prudent and necessary to maintain the stability of the seven buildings slated for repair. Outside experts were called in to inspect and verify all district findings. And the school board, by unanimous decision, presented the community with a pared down proposal.

Tom Murphy, Sea Cliff

Editor's note: The writer is a former school board member.