I am certain John Owens can respond to the recent critical letter faulting is opposition to the imposition of the new core curriculum in New York State schools. I support Owens’ position. The writer assumes Owens opposes excellence because he describes the psychological factors present in every learning environment. Intelligence, and the willingness to apply it are individual endowments. They need the proper atmosphere. A teacher’s job is to provide those conditions favorable to learning. Owens’ insight in this regard is commendable. Excellence cannot be imposed, least of all by bureaucratic fiat nor corporate competition.
In many respects, Levittown and the growth of suburbia and the middle class in the three decades after World War II was a hybrid of politically charged goals and interests from both liberals and conservatives.
Liberals once championed the oppressed and downtrodden. Not anymore. The right of affluent gay professionals with secure incomes and no family obligations to throw themselves lavish weddings in Phoenix’s most palatial catering hall means more to them than
Arizona’s homeless or jobless residents. The animal rights of cows is a greater concern than the low pay and working conditions of meat-packing workers; than the young people with college degrees who need food stamps to purchase beef. The rights of some deadbeat to get stoned on marijuana whilst awaiting the welfare check’s arrival is of greater import than families working three or four jobs to pay for those who won’t work one.
There is more than one way to make the news.
Last weekend, a couple dozen high schools from Nassau County, including students from Island Trees, went to Hofstra University to demonstrate their prowess at building robots in the 15th annual Long Island Regional First Robotics Competition. The teams have been working since early January, when they first got their assignment and parts kits from FIRST headquarters.
It’s easy to forget suffering in spring. When the winds blow warm and gentle, the world feels like a tender, forgiving place.
There is always an abundance of volunteers at holiday time. Starting at Thanksgiving, chill air and frost on the ground provide stark contrast to the warmth of hearth and home embodied in our year-end celebrations. Through Christmas (the giving holiday) and all the cold winter months, everyone wants to help feed the hungry (often as a kind of object lesson for children) and comfort the lonely.
Recently, Governor Cuomo announced a 3 percent statewide school aid increase in his proposed Executive Budget. Although his school aid budget may have increased, this “increase” did not materialize for most Nassau County school districts. In fact, Island Trees experienced a slight school aid decrease in this “increased” 2014-15 Executive Budget. Unfortunately, since the start of the Great Recession of 2010, Island Trees school aid has decreased a total of $7,628,347, the equivalent of a 19 percent increase on the tax levy.
Someone once said that America is an epic so sweeping that virtually anything said or written about it is apt to be equally true and equally false. This is frequently the case of great men and women too and, indeed, of William Levitt.
On Jan. 28, 2014, Levittown observed the twentieth anniversary of the death of William J. Levitt, the man I deem one of the great geniuses of the modern era. He certainly came with so many of the traits of minds who fashion new paradigms, original constructs, and novel genre; exhibiting powerful assertiveness before the challenges posed reconciling seemingly contradictory trains of thought and erecting entirely new syncretic formulations from polar opposites. He was, incontestably, a man of extraordinary paradox.
Long Island is quickly becoming “Lost Island,” further fueled by the short-sighted thinking of Levittown residents who would rather maintain unused and outdated school buildings in the unrealistic hope that children will one day return. Isn’t a 20 year wait long enough?
The demographics on Long Island tell a sad, but true tale, about young adults and families fleeing the Island in record numbers resulting in the school age population shrinking by thousands. This will not change in the near future, or perhaps, ever.
Your “Patience Is A Virtue” editorial was a good one: a good “lesson”, plus good advice. Unfortunately, it was probably “preaching to the choir”, because patient drivers will continue practicing responsible, careful driving habits; while impatient, reckless fools who arrogantly think that their time is more important than anyone else’s safety, will likely continue their bad driving habits.
If only horn-honkers like that Mercedes owner were the worst ones on the road. It’s more the speeders, swervers, texters, and drunkards who cause the most damage and death. I only wish that each of them would hit a vehicle or an incapacitating pothole before they cause an accident that will kill or maim some innocent person.
I read the attack on John Owens’ articles on Common Core by Stanley Ronell with amazement. How could one person be so misinformed about the topic of Common Core curriculum? Mr. Owens was a teacher, and his views were right on target. The curriculum and the roll-out have been a disaster. I suggest he read an excellent expose, Reign of Error, by Diane Ravitch, and Mr Owens’ book, Confessions of a Bad Teacher, before he writes further letters.
This is my 50th year in education, and I have never seen such a disaster. The testing is off-target, and the curriculum is not age-appropriate.
In mathematics, we had an excellent curriculum, and the Regents exams appropriately measured students’ learning. Why fix something that isn’t broken?
C. Vincent Pane Ed.D.
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has developed a fiscal stress monitoring system for government municipalities and school districts. The chief purpose of this monitoring system is to provide public organizations with necessary feedback regarding the level of fiscal stress under which the institution is operating. There are four designations indicating the particular level of fiscal stress: “Significant Fiscal Stress (65 percent-100 percent)”, “Moderate Fiscal Stress (55 percent-64.9 percent)”, “Susceptible to Fiscal Stress (45 percent-54.9 percent)”, and “No Designation (0 percent-44.9 percent)”. Districts may operate under fiscal stress due to revenue shortfalls, expenditure overruns, or budget deficits. Fittingly, Island Trees received “No Designation” (0%) status, which, according to the Comptroller’s Office, means that our district is financially sound and is not operating under any fiscal stress. Presently, 13% of New York State school districts are operating on some level of fiscal stress, including four Nassau County school districts (Lawrence, Manhasset, Seaford, and Valley Stream 24). Important to note is that while many of these school districts were once lauded for their financial position, a poor decision here or there may have had a negative impact on their overall fiscal health. Therefore, it is important for all school districts to anticipate future economic challenges and to remain focused on their fiduciary responsibilities. Failure to do so can result in a district quickly being added to the Comptroller “Fiscal Stress” list. Collectively, the Island Trees School Board has been very proactive with our fiscal stewardship, which has helped facilitate our current position. As a group, we will continue to act in a fiscally responsible manner on behalf of the community and students.
Island Trees Board of Education
Kenneth Rochon, President
Kristen Daum, Vice Preside
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