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Letters: Online courses hold promise

In "The smarter path for online education" [Opinion, Sept. 27], Marian Stoltz-Loike made excellent points. I wish to add that in online or in-class education, students can benefit from programmed instruction.

This is where material is presented, students are tested, and the parts that are answered incorrectly are presented again. This procedure is repeated until the "no error" level is reached.

This method, when combined with teacher interaction, obtains positive results.

Frank J. Mandriota, Bayport

Editor's note: The writer taught biopsychology and experimental psychology at Hunter College.

I want to compliment the writer for her excellent comments and insights about online education. I taught for 39 years, loved teaching very much and am not anti-technology. I see the great benefits of it.

The fact that thousands of students can have access to great courses anywhere in the world is terrific. However, Stoltz-Loike makes two very important points.

One is the fact that massive open online courses do not give credit, and they cannot be applied to a college degree. How does that benefit a young person who needs that degree to gain employment?

The other, and I think the most important point, is contained in her observation, "Blended learning, combining online, flexible coursework with class meetings via Web conferences or in an actual classroom, can further enhance learning."

There is no greater education than combining knowledge with intelligent and exciting discussions. Every person benefits from this process -- teachers and students.

Jim Hawkins, Baldwin

Teachers' contracts are going to add up

The Rocky Point school board will rue the day it agreed to a long-term contract with the teachers association ["Baby steps to control costs," Editorial, Sept. 26]. The board will regret this nine-year deal for a long, long time -- namely, nine years.

That contract is a Trojan horse. It locks in obscenely high pay packages for almost a decade. We need to reduce educators' salaries, not squeeze every extra dollar into their already bloated pay. With all benefits considered, our longtime elementary school teachers in Baldwin approach a pay package of $150,000 each.

Across Long Island, school districts are cutting programs and services. Their finances are stressed, all because of shrewd unions that have leveraged parental instincts into exorbitant compensation for their members. The teachers association has outfoxed the inept laymen on the Rocky Point school board.

Robert Kugelmass, Baldwin

Don't waste water hosing down walks

Maybe fines should be imposed for the people who waste water by hosing down sidewalks at their homes or businesses ["Why LI uses so much water," News, Sept. 26]. Whatever happened to using a broom? Besides saving water, sweeping is good exercise.

Philip Campanella, Roslyn

Low pay for returning veterans

I just read the article on housing for veterans returning home ["Home front on their own," News, Sept. 25]. I was appalled when I came to the part that said a lance corporal who served this country for four years, putting his life on the line, was making just $24,000 in base pay. It's a disgrace for this country to pay so little.

June Votava, Yaphank

Plenty of people gaming food stamps

I have met people who live off the government ["The myth of takers vs. makers," Opinion, Sept. 26]. There is a whole class of people out there that manipulates the system for its own good.

During my career, I delivered food products to stores all over the metropolitan area. I have met people who admitted borrowing other people's identities. They worked under one name, collected under their own.

I watched a woman give older people a story so they would use her food stamp card and give her the cash. I watched people stand on corners drinking out of containers in brown paper bags when they should have been working. The programs are out of control and not helping people who really need help.

Are there solutions? Yes: Drug-test anyone who collects a government check. Limit the amount of money people can receive from welfare and food stamps, and how long they can stay in the programs. There are limits to unemployment insurance, and the government makes people show that they have tried to find a job.

I used to joke that welfare was a career choice. I now know it's true. This needs to stop. Thanks for the article, because we need to have a real discussion about entitlements.

Mike Zalackas, Franklin Square