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Letters: Sharp division on science contests

From left, Serena McCalla, the Science Research Teacher

From left, Serena McCalla, the Science Research Teacher at Jericho High School with the Intel Science Semifinalists -- Ken Aizawa, 17; Xingan (Ian) Hua, 17; Chenle (Leo) Hu, 17; Dohee (Diane) Wa, 18; Preeti Kakani, 17; Kaitlyn Shin,17; and Amy Xu, 17. Stretched across lab bench is Matthew Chun. (Jan. 8, 2014). Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Instead of devoting two pages to the Long Island students who are semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search competition, Newsday should have highlighted the struggle of the many other students to keep up with their classes and graduate on time ["LI bright lights," News, Jan. 9]. Nearly 60 percent of students entering Long Island's community colleges need to take remedial courses because they are not ready for college.

The Intel semifinalists were probably the highest achievers in their schools and could gain admission to our nation's top universities without winning science competitions. The parents of contest winners are usually scientists, doctors or other professionals.

The cost of science contest participation by Long Island schools is staggering. Some schools set aside highly paid teachers to have their brightest students win prizes in these contests and put their school's name in the headlines.

School administrators should be prohibited from spending tax dollars to win science competitions. More important, it is an injustice to allow students to attempt science research before they master the technology that only a university can provide.

George Rand, Franklin Square

Editor's note: The writer is a former engineering research manager.

What is it that this group has in common? Special privilege? Head Start programs? Free food? After-school programs?

Or is it that they had parents who took an interest in not just having children, but making sure that they understood that doing well in school was their way to get ahead?

It's amazing what a page of pictures can show.

Ray Nella, Massapequa