Seasons come and seasons go, but there is no off-season when it comes to caring about how we educate our children. It’s a topic of intense interest across Long Island – from the editorial board to readers, from school officials to elected representatives, and from the business community to taxpayers.

One theme the editorial board has revisited regularly is the debate over rigorous testing and its relation to academic progress and graduation rates. Most recently, the board warned that Regents tests, part of getting a diploma in New York State for more than a century, should not be abandoned or watered down just because students are having difficulty passing them. Improve what and how we teach, the board argued, writing that “Regents tests are not the problem with our high schools or our high schoolers. The exams are telling us there is a problem. That’s why they’re under attack.”

Columnist Lane Filler similarly warned against easing standards, which he said was being pushed by the Board of Regents, the state Assembly, and teachers unions. “And if that happens,” Filler writes, “the crowing over instantly increased graduation rates will drown out the warnings that the soft bigotry of low expectations is too often leaving children adorned in caps and gowns behind.” 

Cartoonist Matt Davies offered his own wry commentary on the decline in test scores, with an interesting asterisk, in a cartoon called “Sinking Scholarship.”

Education is a favorite topic for readers as well. Most recently, a number of writers weighed in on a different aspect of the controversy over standards – how they apply to yeshivas, some of which are being criticized for not teaching such basics as math and science. Writing in response to a Newsday editorial that found that many yeshiva students “have few marketable skills” and “are often unfit for gainful employment,” Evelyn Estrine of Baldwin wrote that this is “embarrassing, wasteful, abhorrent and disgraceful … Their schools should be held to the same standards.”

Lately, education also has become part of the culture wars ravaging the nation. The Point looked at incendiary remarks from former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that New York-based teachers union leader Randi Weingarten was “the most dangerous person in the world.” Pompeo claimed that teachers' unions would be “the most likely” to destroy our republic because of “the filth they’re teaching” and “the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing.”

Pompeo’s calculated broadside might be the most hyperbolic example of the emotions swirling about education, but there is no question that the topic will always generate strong opinions from all involved.

- Michael Dobie