Thursday, 24 October 2013 00:00
Make no bones about it. I have been consumed with nonstop questions and concerns regarding the state education department’s rollout of the Common Core curriculum. I’m approached by constituents with questions at almost every event I attend in our district. But more than answer questions, I’ve been trying to listen because it’s abundantly clear to me that people are truly upset. There’s something wrong and they want something to be done.
To resolve this issue is going to take time and a whole lot of patience. That’s why I was so flabbergasted this past week when State Education Commissioner Dr. John King Jr. announced he was suspending his scheduled town hall meetings to discuss the roll-out of Common Core and answer questions. Apparently, the commissioner was challenged by concerned parents and teachers at a town hall meeting upstate. Blaming “special interests” (i.e. concerned parents) for what he felt was an unconstructive atmosphere, he chose to suspend subsequent meetings including the Long Island event that was to be held right here in Garden City. This was an incredibly poor decision on his part. Anyone involved in government must understand that just because you don’t like the score, doesn’t mean you can take your bat and your ball and go home. This is especially true as Dr. King not only chose the game, he set the rules by which our children will be gauged. It’s wrong.
Let’s be frank, our communities are paying some of the highest taxes in the nation to educate their children who are suddenly failing in droves under the Common Core. In fact, an Aug. 7 Education Department report revealed that a whopping 60 percent of students in grades three through eight on Long Island scored below proficiency, nearly double the amount from the year prior! The scores are wrong and some have speculated that they’ve been manipulated.
Naturally, parents are panicking. And whether he likes it or not, as Education Commissioner, the buck stops with him. It’s his plan.
So the appropriate response would be to assure parents that their concerns are not falling on deaf ears and then to begin the clearly necessary work of addressing the problems with input from everyone. Ignoring parents when they voice concern for their children’s well-being compounds the problem and only confirms for them their sentiment that the Education Department is acting without regard for the very people it should be serving.
Yet it’s not too late to set things right. It can’t be.
As I’ve noted before, embracing the higher standards of Common Core is worthwhile but it should have been rolled out gradually, allowing students the opportunity of growing with the new curriculum instead of callously blindsiding so many without preparation. The damage to student confidence and personal progress may be irreparable, to say nothing of the disadvantage of inferior grades that do not accurately reflect ability. It has to be fixed. Hopefully our Board of
Regents and Education Department have the humility to accept that and the wherewithal to see it through.
At the moment, New York needs a caring pragmatist willing to address real concerns raised by caring parents and educators who see a system being manipulated from above to the detriment of their children. Unfortunately, we have John King. He should immediately reschedule these forums or he should immediately resign.
Saturday, 07 December 2013 00:00
Eleni Pitzel has lived in East Williston since 1975, having raised five children. Prior to that, she and her family lived in Floral Park. Pitzel is a longtime club member, and served as corresponding secretary for two years.
Pitzel has been the club’s art instructor for four years; she also teaches art at St. Paul’s Orthodox Cathedral in West Hempstead. “My artistic skills are a gift from God, and from that gift I give back to others,” Pitzel said.
Friday, 06 December 2013 00:00
A new proposal by interim Town of North Hempstead Supervisor John Riordan seeks to hike pay for elected officials. Riordan's plan would have board members’ salaries jump by $15,000 to a total of $55,000, an increase of approximately 37.5 percent. Other proposed salaries would be $138,000 for the supervisor, $115,000 for the receiver of taxes and $105,000 for the town clerk.
Riordan introduced the proposal at the last town board meeting, on Nov. 19, requesting that a resolution be placed on the agenda setting Dec. 10 for a public hearing to consider the adoption of an amendment that would enable the salary increases for the 2014 calendar year.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
MAA Travel Soccer teams wrapped up their respective fall 2013 seasons recently. Two MAA teams won titles this season in the Long Island Junior Soccer League; the BU13 Mineola Empire went 9-0-1 and the GU14 Red Bulls enjoyed a 8-1-1 campaign to each win first place trophies. The GU11 Honey Badgers went undefeated (6-0-2) and finished in second place in their division, as did the GU15 Mini-Mustangs with a 7-1-1 season record.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
The Mineola 12U fall intramural baseball team celebrated their fall season and tournament championship with a pizza party/awards dinner on Nov. 20. In addition to celebrating a great fall season and tournament championship, the boys were treated to an inspirational talk by coach Ken Conrade, the 2013 New York State High School Coach of the Year.
Conrade, the Kellenberg Memorial High School assistant principal for academics and girls varsity softball coach, was the keynote speaker for the awards dinner. He presented a very talked about baseball and youth sports.
Conrade’s talk was framed around each inning of a baseball game. He used stories and examples from the first to an extra “10th inning” to drive home both a sports and life lesson. For example, as part of the seventh inning stretch, he had each player stand up, stretch their legs and then go and thank their parents for their support and commitment to their baseball playing.