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Letter: Billionaires vs. Our Kids

I don’t mind reasonable incremental changes to our children’s education. What I see, however, when you follow the money with Common Core, is an opportunity for billionaires like Bill Gates to apply monetary influence over politicians in order to gain political favor. I see a public school system focused more on testing and memorization of useless trivia, than students truly learning and grasping concepts.

 

With Common Core, I see corporations eventually profiting from access to our children’s confidential information, and a further invasion into our privacy. Will any of us be surprised if somehow Bill Gates’ Microsoft eventually benefits from computerized testing and educational software in our public schools? 

 

I have a daughter in the third grade, who I think is far too young to be stressing over tests and to not genuinely enjoy going to school most days. I understand juniors and seniors getting tired of the school routines. Is it really necessary, though, to have children turned off to learning by the third grade?

 

Just one example of many: My daughter started learning multiplication and division simultaneously in January. She hadn’t even mastered these fundamental basics yet, and they already started her on fractions a few weeks later. Even if she manages to correctly answer a test question on

fractions, she doesn’t fully understand the concept of fractions yet.

 

And while two working parents “make the time” to help our children with their ever-increasing homework load, on behalf of actual parents of children in public schools, I have to ask: How are we to help in countless situations where we weren’t taught the same methods being used in the classroom? 

 

Since the supporters of Common Core like to point to the so-called “problem” with our global ranking in education, here are some interesting facts about the number-one ranked country in education, Finland.

 

The only similarity between Finland’s education system and the Common Core is that the curriculum is the same for all students. Of course, that’s a little easier when you have a total population of 5.4 million, which is about two-thirds of New York City’s multicultural population (8.3 million), and a little over a quarter of the State of New York’s population (19.5 million).

 

Finnish schools have light homework loads. Finland uses very little standardized testing. Children in Finland don’t start school until age 7. Finnish preschools emphasize “self reflection” and social skills, not academics. Finland doesn’t even begin grades until high school.

 

So here is a question for the creators of Common Core: 

 

If the Common Core was supposed to be about improving our global rankings and preparing our children for global competition, then why are we doing the exact opposite of the country who is currently ranked first? 

 

I don’t begrudge Bill Gates the billions of dollars he’s earned, if accomplished with ethical business practices. But I do mind when billionaires use their influence over self-serving politicians, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to decide the education of my children in public school; especially when their own children probably attend private schools.

 

I do mind and I find it frightening that Cuomo has reportedly tried to undermine the campaign of his probable Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, by appealing to wealthy Republican supporters of Cuomo’s tax policies, many of whom Cuomo once attempted to prosecute as state attorney general. I do mind that President Obama’s Common Core lackey, U.S. Department of Education head Arne Duncan, recently praised the work of state Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr., when even Cuomo has recognized the horrific execution of New York’s

Common Core rollout. Can President Obama be any more out of touch with what public school parents are feeling about Common Core?

 

Please forgive me if I want my children to be independent and live a balanced life; and to not be indoctrinated into a life of servitude to their would-be billionaire kings and the puppet politicians they fund.

 

I hope that every parent and grandparent realizes the importance of what is happening here, and this November votes for common sense in our public school system, and against the perpetrators of Common Core. If we’re not going to fight for our children’s future, then what will we fight for?

 

Paul Biggin


News

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.

 

Last June, Nassau County passed legislation that allows for the deployment of a speed enforcement camera system in school zones for each of the 56 public school districts in the county. 

 

The new systems will be implemented throughout the county on July 25, and will be operational on scheduled school days throughout the year. 


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