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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

The Oyster Bay Charitable Fund and the Oyster Bay Rotary Club hosted the annual Oyster Festival “Kick-Off” press conference on Friday, Aug. 15 at the flagpole in Theodore Roosevelt Park.

In attendance were NY State Senator Carl Marcelino and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, both Honorary Oyster Festival Chairmen; Oyster Bay Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr.; Oyster Bay Town Councilman Chris J. Coshignano; Oyster Bay Town Councilwoman Michelle Johnson; Oyster Bay Town Councilman Joseph Pinto; Oyster Bay Rotary President Judy Wasilchuk; Verizon Title Sponsor Representative, Director of Government Affairs Patrick Lespinasse; Executive Director, h2empower, African Studies Specialist Helen Boxwill; Oyster Festival Sports Representative James Werner; Long Island Rough Riders Representative Sarah Culmo and Emcee Harlan Friedman.

The 31st annual Oyster Festival will take place on Saturday, Oct. 18 and Sunday, Oct. 19, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

A lot of people think that our world would be better off without all of the insects in it. Not so, according to Lois Lindberg, volunteer naturalist at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. Lindberg and fellow naturalist Wendy Albin gave a presentation about the importance of butterflies and insects in our ecosystem at the site of Theodore Roosevelt’s former home on Saturday, Aug. 23, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

“Butterflies and other insects are very important in nature,” said Lindberg. “People see bees, wasps and ants and other insects as pests, but they actually contribute to our ecosystem by each doing their own unique job. They pollinate the flowers and fruits and without them we would not be able to eat a lot of the stuff we eat every day.”


Sports

Picture-perfect weather was on board for the Mill Neck Family of Organizations’ Third Annual Sail the Sound for Deafness Regatta on Thursday, Aug. 7. The event, featuring an evening race of yachts, followed by a cocktail party, was held to benefit the organization that serves individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have other special needs.

In this year’s race, fifteen sailors took to the waters of Oyster Bay Harbor; three aboard their own boats, others on several boats provided by Oakcliff Sailing Center. The WaterFront Center’s oyster sloop, Christeen and two vessels from Oyster Bay Marine Center, brought a total of 45 spectators out to watch the race.

Kevin Mercier, 39, of Oyster Bay, led a large contingent of local runners in the Lynne, Gartner, Dunne & Covello Sands Point Sprint 5 Kilometer Run, held on the grounds of Nassau County’s Sands Point Preserve on Saturday morning, Aug. 9. Mercier was the 18th finisher overall and third in the 35-39 age group with a time of  21 minutes, 7 seconds.

Other local runners winning awards at the Sands Point Preserve were Nicholas Cuddy of Oyster Bay, who earned first place honors in the Clydesdale Weight Division with a time of 25:53, Joanne Gallo of Oyster Bay, who  took home the first place award in the women’s 65-69 age group with a time of 28:11, and Anja Hermann of Oyster Bay, third place woman in the 20-24 age group, who finished in 28:47.


Calendar

Movie at the Library

Thursday, August 28

Sagamore Hill Walk

Saturday, August 30

Hooks and Needles

Tuesday, September 2



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