I feel for Lois A. Schaffer on the tragic loss of her daughter and am truly sorry that her admirable quest to stir people to demand what she calls “legislative movement” is so unlikely to achieve success. The fact that more than one whole year, four seasons, 12 months, 52 weeks and 365 days have passed since the slaughter of 20 Newtown children last year, with no “legislative movement” from our national legislature makes it clear that we’re more likely to see “laxative movement” from its 535 members than any legislative movement. Collectively, these 535 men and women are a disgrace to civilization. I can’t help wondering if the Senate or House of Representatives would have passed any meaningful gun legislation if, somehow, the 20 children killed on “12-14” were 20 of their own children. Or, since between them, these 535 men and women probably have more than 1,000 children; if Adam Lanza had somehow managed to shoot every one of those “children” (even if now of adult age) to death with his assault rifle, would that have “moved” them to action? I’m not even sure that would have done the trick; although I’m sure they would have paid some lip service to the idea of some gun control, and would have made some impressive-sounding, passionate, stirring speeches, oratory and rhetoric. They may not be able to walk-the-walk of genuine legislators, but they sure can talk-the-talk.
John Owens left out an important point [in his column “Mastering Math Shouldn’t Be Optional”], and one that I made at a recent school board meeting.
I asked if this Common Core curriculum was going to improve the ability of our children to make change at the check-out counter or anywhere else. The answer was “No”.
First, I’d like to thank the paper for keeping the community informed on Common Core. It is definitely something most parents are talking about, some fearful, a few taking a tone of defiance. In the end, my wife and I take the position that it is better to have a universal standard in this country than have different standards originating “from the community.”
Bottom line is our children compete for opportunities and resources with other students across this country, and we had better make sure that our children’s transcripts adhere to one standard.
John Owens’ column reported the Board of Regents announced that on the upcoming April statewide tests, they’d take “10 minutes off the English exam.” Owens wrote, “Of course, in context, it’s not much. Our kids still can expect to sit through nearly three hours of testing.” He’s right, but I’d like to amend his “not much” to “too much: 10 minutes too much.” Because allowing kids to leave the testing room 10 minutes early will do more harm than good — and here’s why: I think the Board of Regents needs some Common Core courses intended to improve both critical thinking and problem-solving, given their foolish plan which stipulates that “students in grades 5-8 will be allowed to leave testing areas 10 minutes earlier on one day ... if everyone in the class completes the exam in less than the time allowed.”
Since you were one of the original and prime sponsors of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, hereinafter referred to as “OBAMACARE,” I wrote to you this past August concerning your response to NSUH at Glen Cove announcing its scheduled January, 2014 closure as an in-patient hospital facility As you are fully aware “OBAMACARE” per se was reported by the press at that time to be the major contributing factor that precluded Glen Cove’s NSUH from continuing to afford the same high levels of medical care they have provided in the past. No response from your office. No surprise! I accepted your silence then and now as evidence of your unwillingness to have addressed this issue publicly, to wit, you had no defense then and you have none now.
I congratulate parents and teachers on their protests on Common Core curriculum and testing. I wonder if the authors of Common Core have any idea of the cognitive readiness of the children for the content at each grade level. The commissioner is throwing at the audience “educanese” policies which are meant to intimidate. To the credit of the audience he is not succeeding. In my 49 years of teaching I have I never witnessed such widespread disapproval of an education program; and confusion. But we have never had such radical change thrust on us.
My reading on the state town hall meetings is they are designed as a “safety valve” — let the public “blow off steam” but ultimately not change a thing. Dr. King as much said this when he told the audience he was listening but would not make any substantive changes.
John Owens’ column “Public School Data: Numbers Beyond Belief” deserves a great big “attaboy” for going to the heart of the problem. Being a math teacher, I would say to the kids, that in statistics, “figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” And when the city presented data that “garbage in results in garbage out,” they are trying to quantify the unquantifiable. In my career I’ve seen some of this, but the use by NYC is mind-blowing.
What fraud. But the New York State Education Department seems to be promoting this in many ways, including coming up with a number to rate teachers. What an insult to teachers to think that the efforts to motivate kids, the creativity, the dedication, the ability to put on a “dynamic show” five times a day, five days a week can be reduced to a number.
I voted on Nov. 5, but not for any judges. That’s because I felt I had no relevant facts upon which to base my votes.
We voters would not all be voters who have little idea whom we’re voting for if the Anton election supplement, or the League of Women Voters, or the ads and mailings of incumbent judges running for re-election would simply provide us with facts about their record as judges. With legislators, their voting records are public knowledge; but not so with judges. These men and women, who have to be addressed as “Your Honor” and have to be stood up for whenever they enter the courtroom, seem to have their own records sealed and secret.
After reading an article on Common Core, I agree even more. It really cuts through all the “educanese” the state is throwing at the public and fully exposes the serious flaws with the roll-out of the curriculum. You wonder how much teaching experience the people who wrote the curriculum modules have. Is the state trying to make the state program “teacher proof” by providing a virtual script for the curriculum? The curriculum is not complete and math chairs are being forced to turn to other states for a complete scope and sequence.
As we salute the men and women who served our nation on Veterans Day, the American Lung Association wants veterans and their loved ones to know that those who served have a higher incidence of lung cancer than the general population. November is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and the message that veterans have an increased risk for acquiring this dreaded disease is an important one that’s too often overlooked in the stories we typically read about both veterans and about lung cancer.
It’s no secret that tobacco use in the military was once encouraged and that many who served developed a lifelong addiction. Yet despite all that we now know about tobacco’s dangers, members of our military still smoke at rates that exceed the general population. Add in the exposure to chemicals like asbestos, depleted uranium, smoke from burn pits and other harmful emissions, and this risk becomes even greater.
The Lung Association urges veterans to talk with their doctors about their risk for lung cancer. We also encourage veterans who smoke or did smoke to visit lungcancerscreeningsaveslives.org, to see if lung cancer screening might be appropriate for them.
We are here for veterans, and all Americans, who need help quitting smoking. It’s the most important thing a person can do to reduce his or her risk for lung cancer. Learn more about how we can help you quit at quitterinyou.org.
Our Lung Helpline, at 1-800-586-4872 is available 7 days a week to answer questions about lung health and provide reliable information about quitting smoking. To learn even more about lung cancer, lung disease and how to best protect your lung health, visit our website at www.LungNE.org. Working together, we can raise awareness about lung cancer, reduce its incidence and increase the number of survivors.
Jeff Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast
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