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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

“Visitation is up 300 percent,” said Harriet Gerard Clark, Raynham Hall Museum director.

“Two-thirds of them come because of reading the book by Brian Kilmeade, George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved The American Revolution, and seeing the series ‘Turn’ on A&E,” added Tom Valentine, docent, who keeps the list of visitors. Soon the series will include the story of Robert Townsend of Oyster Bay who was known as Culper, Jr. when he was a spy for George Washington.

Alex Sutherland, director of education, nailed his definition. “He was the most important spy for George Washington because he had the perfect cover. He was pretending to be a Loyalist and writing for a Loyalist newspaper and befriending British officers at his coffee shop in downtown New York while secretly collecting information.

As a fitness coach and a mother, Melissa Monteforte of Locust Valley knows how important it is to stay healthy, and how difficult it can be for women to make themselves, and their health, a priority. Wanting to help women take charge and feel more in control, she organized the Fit & Healthy Mamas Annual 5K run, now in its third year, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 13 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

“I felt like running was the best outlet when I became a mother; it’s such a great way to get fit and feel healthy and I wanted to share that with other moms,” says Monteforte, 31. “I wanted women to feel celebrated, no matter their fitness level, and to put their health first.”


Sports

Hard work paid off for local athletes Christine Grippo of Locust Valley, Kelly Pickard of Oyster Bay, Bernadette Winnubst of Locust Valley, Steven Quigley of Bayville, Catherine Soler of Oyster Bay, Maria Elinger of Oyster Bay, and Armand D’Amato of Oyster Bay Cove, each of whom won awards in a field of some of the best triathletes from all of Long Island and beyond in the 27th annual Runner’s Edge - Town of Oyster Bay Triathlon, held in and around Oyster Bay’s Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park on Saturday morning, Aug. 23.

Grippo earned top honors in the women’s 30-34 age group with a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes, 36 seconds. Pickard (1:17:39) scored first among the women in the 35-39 age group. Winnubst scored in 1:38:48 to earn third place honors in the Masters Athena Weight Division. Quigley earned the second place award in the Masters Clydesdale Weight Division in 1:23:23. Soler (1:29:12) scored 5th among the women in the 20-24 age group. Ehlinger (1:39:23) was the 4th place award winner in the women’s 55-59 age group. D’Amato (1:42:44) earned top honors in the 70-74 age group.

Ice Dreams, an Olympic Ice Show starring 2014 Olympic Bronze Medalist Jason Brown and aspiring local skaters, is coming to Twin Rinks Ice Center at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow on Sept. 20.

Isabella Skvarla, 13, Julia Tauter, 12, and Chiara Vlacich, 12, all of Oyster Bay, Julia Forte, 12, of Locust Valley and Riley Stein, 11, of Bayville will be skating in the world class show to celebrate the opening of the best figure skating facility Long Island has ever seen.


Calendar

Art In A Meadow

Saturday, Sept. 13

Bayville Oktoberfest

Saturday, Sept. 13 - Sunday, Sept. 14

Hurricane Preparedness

Tuesday, Sept. 16



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