High school students might benefit if Regents exams aren't dismissed.

High school students might benefit if Regents exams aren't dismissed. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Regents exams can be an effective tool

Yes, the Regents exams have flaws — but fix ’em, don’t toss ’em [“Don’t lower school standards,” Editorial, Nov. 26].

My major grievance is that they’re not always comparable. What does a score of 77 one year mean when compared with a 77 the next? It’s not always the same. To illustrate: That score on a particularly difficult test means something different from the same score on an easier test the following year.

But these exams serve a purpose: namely, as guideposts for teachers. Instead, create exams in all subjects at the end of every course to ensure subject mastery has been attained.

First, convene a blue-ribbon panel in all subjects to identify the precise objectives for each course.

Second, that panel should create exit exams to determine whether those objectives have been met.

Third, experts should review those tests to ensure they’re reliable and valid.

Fourth, field test questions before they’re used.

Fifth, identify struggling students. Effective remediation programs such as Homework Helpers should be implemented.

True, Regents exams get a bad rap. However, they can be an effective tool in raising standards and ensuring that students have the knowledge they need before advancing to the next level.

— Steven Kussin, Merrick

The writer, a retired high school principal, is an adjunct professor at Hofstra University.

Let parents do their thing, teachers theirs

Newsday cited cases of schoolteachers’ sexual abuse of students over decades [“Schools pay to settle old abuse cases,” News, Dec. 3]. I couldn’t believe the irony of a letter printed the next day sent by a teacher [“Parents, tell us what teachers should do,” Letters, Dec. 4].

This teacher complained about the occasional accusations of indoctrination of students by teachers and referred to such charges as ridiculous. Are we to believe that some teachers will sexually abuse their students, but none will ever indoctrinate them? That seems far-fetched.

The letter writer continues that parents need to make up their minds as to whether they want “social/emotional learning” to be taught by professional educators in schools.

With the United States lagging behind many peer nations in math, science and reading, perhaps we should pass on the social/emotional learning and start concentrating on those subjects which will help us compete in a global economy.

Leave the social and emotional concerns to the parents and trained counselors. Just as there are many good, decent and effective teachers in our schools, there are many excellent parents out there who are doing a great job with their children.

Finally, let’s find ways to protect our vulnerable children from the few teachers who might abuse them.

— Michael Cisek, East Islip

The fact that taxpayers have spent almost $29 million on lawsuits for schools to cover up sexual abuse informs me that more people besides the ones committing the acts should be in jail.

It’s incredulous that school administrators are allowed to cover up sexual abuse without getting consequences themselves. If administrators hid the crime, take away their pensions to help pay for the crime. Why should taxpayers be the ones burdened with the consequences? Do this for the sake of the children.

— Anthony Tanzi, Mastic Beach

Offseason bond votes: It’s democracy

The Empire Center for Public Policy has attempted to find fault with school districts for submitting spending plans to their constituencies during so-called special offseason elections, purporting these to be “undemocratic” because voting may be held when many voters are away from home on vacation or otherwise preoccupied [“Report critical of offseason bond votes,” News, Dec. 4].

It is important to note that the overwhelming majority of Long Island school district budgets pass, often by large voter majorities (despite appallingly low voter turnout) during the regular voting cycle in May. However, as the data show, nearly one-third of these “offseason” bond proposals are defeated by local voters. This is evidence of democracy in action.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could also enjoy a direct voice in our state, county or local budgets?

— David Flatley, Levittown

The writer is a former president of the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents.

It’s good that the editorial board exposed how Long Island schools have pushed $1.4 billion in spending via 70 bonding issues voted on outside the regular May school budget votes [“Open up school bonding votes,” Editorial, Dec. 5].

What must be added to this discussion is the reason why the schools promote these bonds. Spending on bonds is exempt from the 2% property tax cap.

By folding in common operational expenses, along with capital spending, schools can spend more and still make the disingenuous claim to the voters that they are staying within the cap.

— Barry Cowen, Wantagh

The writer is secretary of the Center for Cost Effective Government.

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