“Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.” So wrote the British historian Bertrand Russell, and if you’ve read the papers this week you may think he was absolutely right. Years of education do not translate into intelligence let alone an enlightened insight into truth.
I write specifically about the American Studies Association (ASA), a nationwide organization of university professors. In an effort to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, its members overwhelmingly voted to boycott Israel’s academic institutions from collaborations with the universities here in the United States. Among local institutions affiliated with the ASA are New York University, Cornell, Columbia, SUNY Buffalo and SUNY Stony Brook. To be fair, the administrations of many of these affiliated universities have slammed the boycott but are just sitting on the sidelines.
This letter serves as a sincere thank you and acknowledgment for all the support shown and generous donations for our Annual Bazaar of the Ladies Auxiliary VFW, Post 5253, Albertson from the following sponsors:
1-800-FLOWERS, New Hyde Park
Albertson Electric, Albertson
Bertucci’s Restaurant, Westbury
Thank you for your support of the referendum to renovate the Great Neck Library. After a number of failed attempts over the past 20 years, we believe success was achieved by creating a team of diverse community members who focused on the common goal of developing a conservative, cost-efficient plan to improve our main library building without expanding the footprint. The members of the board of trustees, the building advisory committee and library staff are grateful for your support.
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.
It may not be one of the more noble holiday traditions but I guiltily admit that one of my favorite things to do at this time of year is to settle down on the couch next to the fireplace with a bag of cookies and my dog to watch the endless stream of Christmas movies
on TV. My wife and kids usually shun the endeavor and remind me that we’ve watched them, literally, dozens of times before. Yet this annual ritual gives me comfort, so I continue.
I’m going to get straight to the point. Superstorm Sandy slammed into the south shore of Long Island on Oct. 29, 2012. On that date, more than 400 days ago, millions were left without power, and tens of thousands were displaced.
Now I’m reading newspaper articles that are making my stomach turn. Apparently only four (that’s right, four) of the 4,178 Superstorm Sandy-ravaged Long Island homeowners who qualified for federal housing reconstruction aid have actually received a check. Let me elaborate. More than 10,000 homeowners asked for help. Thus far a few more than 4,000 have heard back and only four have actually received a check. We watched press conference after press conference at which eager politicians promised help and took credit for new funding and here we are more than a year later and only 4 people have received a check.
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.”
An ominous hush swept over the city of Geneva when five Western nations forged an agreement enabling Iran to take a giant step closer to developing the bomb. This interim accord is weaker than the several U.N. Resolutions (usually characterized by feebleness) that had mandated no sanction relief until Iran suspends all Uranium enrichment.
One does not need to possess Delphic insight into the metabolism of American foreign policy to wonder if our hopes are fluttering insubordinately before the sovereign of our higher faculties. The unilateral nature of the Geneva accord is such that one is compelled to ask if the negotiators are seeing the opposition as seraphic apparitions rather than fascist Mullahs. Instead of a hard-headed agreement safeguarding geo-political stability we get a spasmodic extravagance of runaway optimism predicated on the foundation of Iranian cooperation.
Thank you for your recent article, “Locals Speak At Common Core Forum” (Nov. 20). There’s a lot being said and written about the Common Core State Standards these days, not all of it accurate. As a 35 year veteran educator here on Long Island, I feel compelled to participate in the ongoing conversation.
Reality demonstrates that the USA ranks 17th global education ranking. In addition, the Survey of Adult Skills by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that despite having higher than average levels of educational attainment, adults in the United States have below-average basic literacy and numeracy skills. The U.S. ranked 16th out of 23 countries in literacy proficiency, 21st in numeracy proficiency, and 14th in problem solving in technology-rich environments, according to the OECD survey. The U.S. scored below average in all three of the skills measured in a survey of 24 countries and sub-national regions.
The problem with common sense, a wit once venturesomely noted, is that it’s not common. So how does common sense square with Common Core, Washington’s new public-school curricula and its concomitant performance criteria that are now being implemented in 45 states, including New York, amid a growing chorus of naysayers?
There is ample reason to be concerned about the state of education in America. It was Plato, the father of the Western intellectual heritage, who said that educating the next generation is the most important task a society can be engaged in. I concur, for who can deny that the accumulated knowledge, traditions and values of a civilization is patrimony’s most precious heirloom. It’s also troubling that we are living in a world where students cannot effectively compete with students in other industrial countries. This disparity would be even more alarming if it were not for the fact that our universities and engineering firms are a magnet for gifted foreign students. The United States is importing a brain trust rather than creating one out of its own loins.
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