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Letters: Taking issue with money and speech

I'm responding to "Free speech goes beyond the press" [Opinion, April 9]. This column by Lane Filler strangely conflated free speech in the form of unlimited anonymous corporate money funneled directly to candidates or their dark money groups with the free speech enjoyed by editorial boards and newspaper opinion pages.

Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia view the influence of money on politics through a bizarre lens. Their seemingly oblivious view that money doesn't corrupt politicians is surreal and even quaint.

Further, a corporation does not have rights, people do. Corporations are statutory creations, fictions of law created by people for protection. They should not be given the same rights as people.

Since we will need to cope with the reality of the obscene amounts of cash slithering into our elections, we must not allow it to be anonymous.

Thomas Ram, Bay Shore

Editor's note: The writer is a lawyer.

I found Lane Filler's column to be off base. The framers of the Constitution could scarcely have imagined how media would develop -- newspapers were barely available to many, illiteracy was widespread. Radio? Television? The Internet?

If we all had equal bank accounts, and could therefore equally support our own causes with cash, the Supreme Court rulings in Citizens United and McCutcheon might make sense. But given the fact that 99 percent of this country's citizens could never equal the political contributions of the rich, it is no longer a free-speech issue, but rather an issue of equal rights.

Political donations, advertisements and other paid speech are influence pedaling, and it seems that buying our governing bodies has gotten easier, thanks to our Supreme Court.

June Zeger, East Meadow

Lane Filler has missed a key point. It's true that "liberal Hollywood" has a unique platform to deliver political messages at propitious times, but the public had to pay to receive that message in the form of a movie ticket. It is logical to assume that only the sympathetic are interested in being preached to.

By contrast, the political messages delivered by television and radio arrive and are received unsolicited in nearly every car, home or bar.

Spending limits are the only way to provide a level playing field in our political campaign system, and piles of money only tilt the field.

Jon Zipkin, Bay Shore

Keep juvenile penalties in force

Reading "Prosecution of youths" [News, April 7], I was astounded that yet again politicians are more concerned with the well-being of criminals than with their victims.

These politicians are trying to reverse a policy -- prosecuting 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in misdemeanor and felony cases -- that came about for a very good reason. In 1978, at age 15, Willie Bosket shot and killed three men. He confessed to the murders, but the maximum penalty at the time was five years because he was a minor.

Juveniles today still commit serious crimes, so exactly where is the need to go easy on juvenile criminals coming from?

Anthony Johnson Sr., Brentwood

Parents' objections to Core are valid

In response to "The deeper fears of parents" [Editorial, April 4], Newsday's editorial board gets it wrong once again.

There is no basis to assume that parents are opting out because of "fear," "anxiety" or "terror." The use of such strong language makes it clear that Newsday has an agenda to convince readers that the Common Core is good for this country.

I tutor elementary school students who take these tests, and I can assure you that the tests are not aligned with the developmental readiness of an average child. Newsday assumes that the creators of these tests are professionals who know children, but many do not.

Newsday makes another giant leap in assuming that the test is legitimate; it is not. Last year, more than 70 percent of students failed, and that was partly because cutoff scores were raised.

Have the editors of Newsday ever seen the actual tests? I doubt it, because they are top secret. Even school board members can't get their hands on them.

I can tell you from experience with test-prep questions that the test is grossly unfair for an average student or below. The test is too long, it's ambiguous, and the questions are irrelevant to most children. To ask a third-grader about the mood of the author or the values being reinforced by a story is absurd. Vocabulary is used that young children don't understand and teachers are not allowed to explain during the tests. How is that fair? Most adults would have a difficult time giving the correct answers.

In math, it's even worse. Elementary textbooks aligned with the Common Core include algebra, which in the past was usually reserved for upper-grade students. They are more ready for more abstract concepts. I have done math problems with children that involve five and six steps before arriving at an answer.

A steady diet of failure is not good for any child.

Phil Tamberino, South Huntington

Editor's note: The writer is a retired teacher.