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Newsday letters to the editor for Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017

Newsday readers respond to topics covered.

A 2008 view of the few preserved acres

A 2008 view of the few preserved acres of the verdant grasslands that once covered Central Nassau County. The land at Nassau Community College is managed by Friends of the Hempstead Plains. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alan Raia

Better to teach critical thinking skills

Policies in Half Hollow Hills and other school districts offering alternative programs to team sports are a gross misallocation of taxpayers’ hard-earned income [“Not just gym classes,” News, Dec. 4].

The money could be put to a much better use by devoting resources to a course uniquely designed to provide students with the tools necessary to critically analyze all the information available to them, including about the hyperpartisan economic and political conflicts we hear and read about every day.

A good title for such a course would be “critical thinking,” and it could do much to help them distinguishing the difference between fact and fiction.

Such a course is no less important than sports, math, science or music. The survival of our country depends on the ability of citizens to make their decisions in an objective and informed way.

Leo Montagna, Northport

Gov. Cuomo, Please visit South Shore

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently went to Puerto Rico for the third time since Hurricane Maria hit in September, saying New York has delivered supplies such as bottled water and diapers to Puerto Rico [“Guv, in Puerto Rico, calls for better aid,” News, Dec. 3].

How many times has Cuomo come to South Shore communities since superstorm Sandy back in 2012?

Instead of pandering for the Puerto Rican vote, how about coming to Island Park to see the many empty storefronts and homes abandoned as a result of the failures of the state’s NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program? How about talking to those who remain and hearing of their struggles and how they were treated?

Governor, how about serving those who elected you and using New York taxpayer dollars to help New Yorkers? The visits to Puerto Rico are shallow self-promotion.

Joseph Serra, Floral Park

A welcome history of Nassau’s prairie

I was delighted to see “The Birth of Long Island,” a special section delivered to Newsday subscribers on Nov. 23. The section reprinted the first chapter from Newsday’s 1997-98 series and book, “Long Island: Our Story.”

I required that book as a text in my Long Island history course. The article on the Hempstead Plains, “The Prairie That Was,” refers to 19 acres managed by the nonprofit Friends of Hempstead Plains at Nassau Community College. Alas, the county’s 60 acres of the plains south of Charles Lindbergh Boulevard have not been well maintained in recent years.

I would welcome updates on the pine barrens and on efforts in the last 20 years to halt erosion of the cliffs at the Montauk Lighthouse.

Natalie A. Naylor, Uniondale

Editor’s note: The writer is president of the Nassau County Historical Society and a professor emerita at Hofstra University.

Schools should teach stories of LI’s Indians

I was thrilled to read your story about Long Island’s American Indian nations, but not thrilled to read that many school districts don’t include this story in their curriculums [“The original Long Islanders,” LI Life, Dec. 3].

My granddaughter attends kindergarten in South Huntington and knows as much as a 5-year-old can know about the Indian nations on Long Island because she has been taught about it. When I attended West End Elementary School in Lynbrook, learning about the culture and the stories of the Long Island Indian nations was thrilling. We absorbed so much because the teachers made it exciting, with hands-on activities and playacting.

My parents made sure we understood the importance of the Indians on Long Island and took us many times to the Shinnecock powwow. I later took my children and grandchildren. We all know the painfully sad tales of the American Indian nations across this beautiful country. It should offend every Long Islander that this history is not taught in many of our districts.

Susan Hennings-Lowe, Huntington

Arbitrator was doing what the law required

The opinion piece asserting that Martin Scheinman is responsible for high taxes in New York State is misleading [“Arbitrator’s gripe is ironic,” Opinion, Dec. 2].

Scheinman headed many arbitration panels involved in contracts for New York police, teachers, firefighters and others. He did his job as defined by the Taylor Law. If, as you assume, taxes are too high, your issue is with the law. It’s not with the individual whose advice had to be approved by both management and labor.

Edward Boughal, Sayville

Editor’s note: The writer is a former budget officer with Suffolk County.