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Letter: Common Core: Good or Evil

I have serious doubts about some aspects of the Common Core curriculum; I have serious doubts about some aspects of the Common Core curriculum; I have serious doubts about some aspects of the Common Core curriculum. I reiterate this thrice because, in more than one public venue, this has morphed into “Paul Manton is 100% in favor of the Common Core curriculum and thinks that anyone who does not share his enthusiasm is an idiot” - thence to diatribes about Obamacare, the war in Iraq, Bill Gates, global warming, and respiratory illnesses in children. I don’t understand the confusion. Is I because I don’t suffer from America’s self-imposed Attention Deficit Disorder and can comprehend the English language above the Third Grade reading level? But permit me to make things perfectly clear. As clear as an azure sky on a summer’s day. Let me remove all doubt as Dickens removed all doubt anent the death of Jacob Marley. There are some things I dislike about the Common Core curriculum and some things about it I like. 

Things I dislike about the Common Core:

1. It has the same teach-to-the-test evaluative paradigm that rendered the pre-Core curriculum a mediocre game show trivia contest rather than one whereupon intense testing could be but one of several effective diagnostic tools.

2. In the higher grades, it neglects the literary classics and hitherto successful traditional approaches to the humanities and social sciences and does little to address the problem of politicization which, via political correctness and secularism, has bequeathed to students an entirely distorted comprehension of literature, history, and sociology. (Some would say it even promotes said politicization and insofar as this is true, it was also true before the Common Core ever appeared on the scene).

3. It suffers from an ultra-reductionist epistemology whereupon students fail to grasp the more multidisciplinary nature of academic subjects. It risks being merely the flip-side of the diluted smorgasbord it aspires to usurp.

4. Its wording and/or structuring of mathematics leads to ambiguities of the stated problem rather than stressing exactitude; joining previous endeavors such as the “New Math” of the early 70’s in its failure to take advantage of tried-and-true methods for teaching math that, in erstwhile generations, sired a population able to do math in their heads without an electronic calculator.

Some Things I Like About The Common Core:

1. It does not presuppose that cognitive development is highly limited as hitherto assumed; allowing children to tackle mathematical functions more sophisticated than previously endeavored at the same age level. My Second Grader, for example, probably knows more about mathematics (and other academic subjects) than I knew in the Second Grade.

2. The Common Core presents more intense testing which if implemented sans the aforementioned teach-to-the-test approach and utilized as only one in a myriad of evaluative devices, can be effective.

3. It places emphasis on “the Three R’s”. Without powerful mathematics and reading proficiency skills, a strong grasp of more complex and/or abstract academic concepts is impossible.

4. It is inspired by successful curricula adopted by China, Taiwan, Singapore, and several western European countries whose students consistently outperform American students in basic academic aptitude. A recently-released study by the Program for International Assessment (produced by the nonprofit Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), for example, compared  fifteen year-olds on basic mathematical skills in which American students ranked thirty-one out of thirty-nine nations/municipalities surveyed which included many of the aforesaid; down at the bottom of the list with Third World countries.  

Maybe the Common Core should be scrapped, maybe it should be altered a wee bit, and maybe it should be modified beyond all recognition...maybe. But it will go down as the first serious endeavor to overhaul an educational system that, true to the dire prognostications of the 1983 “A Nation at Risk” report, did, indeed, give us the first generation in American history less educated than its parents.

Paul Manton

News

U.S. Air Force Veteran Mario Dell’aera, 80, of Levittown said he first volunteered for service in 1952, during the Korean War.

 

“They called volunteers ‘regulars,’” he said, reflecting back to when he first enlisted.

 

From 1952-1956, Dell’era called the Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev. home. The base, he said, operated 24 hours, 7 days a week, training pilots to fly overseas into Korea.

A clown named Renaldo performed magic tricks for an enthusiastic audience as part of the National Circus Project, which visited Levittown Public Library on Wednesday, July 16.

 

All 150 tickets available for the performance were sold out in this interactive magic show for children. Throughout the entire circus act, children laughed and raised their hands as high as they could to be chosen as one of Renaldo’s helpers.

 

Raising her hand to participate was three-year-old Kirsten Cantwell from Seaford. “She was upset that she didn’t get picked,” said her mother Melissa Cantwell.

 

Kirsten Cantwell goes to any activity offered at the library, and is starting to enjoy watching magic shows. According to her mother, she really enjoyed the performance.

 

In the circus show, National Circus Project performer, Al Calienes, acted as Renaldo the clown.

 

“The show has different components of acts in the circus,” explained Calienes. “We teach children circus moves.”

 

With the National Circus Project, children get to see magic tricks performed live. “We infuse enthusiasm by showing them, and they in turn will be able to repeat the process,” said Calienes.

Renaldo performed plate spinning, where he spun a plate on a stick and passed it along to the stick of one of his helpers from the audience, who then passed the plate down a line of three more helpers. This interactive way of teaching the children magic tricks really allows them to absorb what they are learning.

 

The National Circus Project travels and performs for elementary schools, as well as middle and high schools. When the National Circus Project is not going to schools, they perform at library shows, summer camps, and other types of events.

 

The performance entertains the adults as well as the children. “We involve everybody,” said Calienes. “Everybody’s engaged on some level or another. “

 

At every library performance, Calienes donates the children’s book he wrote and illustrated Renaldo Joins the Circus to the library. He feels that he owes a lot to the library system. “Anything that ever meant anything to me I learned in the library,” said Calienes.

 

Calienes learned how to draw from the library, which is how he became a commercial artist. One of the main characters he would always draw would be Renaldo the clown. “I wanted to make him real so I joined the circus,” he said.

 

Calienes has been performing with the National Circus Project for seven years and has been in the circus business going on 26 years.

 

The National Circus Project brings magic to children at any school, camp or library all over Long Island as well as across the country.


Sports

Levittown’s Division Avenue High School varsity baseball team, under the direction of coach Tom Tuttle, won the Class A County Championship, garnering a third-place ranking in New York State. This is the team’s 13th county championship win and the second county championship for the school in the past four years.

 

In addition, senior Chris Reilly was named Championship MVP for throwing a complete game shutout in game two and going three for four with two RBIs. 

Taylor Traenkle, a junior at Division Avenue High School recently received the MVP award for the Nassau County Varsity Hockey League Association.

 

Traenkle, who plays no. 9 for the Levittown Ice Falcons, led the way averaging 2.8 points a game with a total of 25 goals and 23 assists in just 17 games. 


Calendar

Lazy Days Of Summer - July 26

Flea Market - July 27

Darlene Prince and the Bragg Hollow Band - July 28


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com