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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 kids may be grown. The marriage may have not worked out. Perhaps retirement affords more free time than was anticipated.

Enter The Transition Network, an national social group featuring an active chapter on Long Island that meets regularly at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library.

Judy Forman, Plainview resident and program co-chair, noted that The Transition Network is an organization of women ages 50 and over who are ‘transitioning’ into the next phase of their lives — whether it be retirement, divorce, losing a loved one or so on — and helping them to meet new people while expanding their horizons.  

Plainview resident Cila Schlanger was eager to attend a two-hour property tax workshop at the Farmingdale Public Library last week — the problem is, so were many other people.

“I was taken aback once I came here because there was such a line,” she said. “I thought it would be a two-hour workshop, but individuals had to wait to be helped on a first come, first serve basis.”

Residents are trying to save a buck whenever and wherever they can, especially when it comes to property taxes. To try and lend a helping hand, elected officials recently hosted a property tax exemption workshop at the library, drawing residents from across Nassau County.


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