Letters to the Editor for Feb. 17
Common Core was forced upon schools unwillingly
The public should be thankful for the Feb. 9 Gazette and Tricia Farmer for her very informative Viewpoint [“Failing Grade”] on the Common Core curriculum.
One of the more important points Ms. Farmer made is that while 45 states have adopted the Common Core, they did so only to secure the “Race to the Top” funds requiring them to do so. The adoption was often done sight unseen.
This is hardly an indication of the merits of Common Core, as New York Education Commissioner John King would have us believe.
Also, no classroom teachers were involved in the formulation of the Common Core curriculum for grades K-12. The two main writers were college professors, and their goal was a curriculum that would prepare students for a rigorous college education. We do need such a curriculum, but that is not the goal for many of our students.
I believe we do need more demanding goals for all students in many areas of the school curriculum. The increased introduction of pre-K programs all over the country is evidence of this. But such goals have to be developed with the involvement of classroom teachers.
One of the most serious flaws in the present situation is that tests based on the Common Core were introduced before the content had been taught. These same tests are then used for teacher evaluation, which is an obvious injustice. But what strikes me as even a more serious problem is that the students, some of them primary age, are being tested on material that was not part of their curriculum. It is easy to imagine the emotional distress this can cause the students and the unfairness of the practice.
Ms. Farmer did an excellent job discussing all the other problems with the Common Core. I had the feeling she was like the child in the Anderson tale who pointed out to all the obedient, adoring adults as the emperor paraded down the street that [he wasn’t wearing any clothes].
The writer is a former elementary principal for Skaneateles and Scotia-Glenville, and the former elementary curriculum coordinator for Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.
Canadian oil trains waging war on us
During the Revolutionary War, we were invaded from Canada: Forces from two directions were to converge on Albany.
After almost two and a half centuries, they have succeeded. The old invasion routes are now railways, with trains carrying tar sand oil.
As Albany fights against a possible explosive disaster, Cohoes has an additional concern. Each passing year brings another train derailment along Route 5. Cohoes gets all its water from the Mohawk. If oil cars crashed into the river during spring flooding, would we be able to close our intake valves to the treatment plant in time? If not, who pays?
Only by modernizing our rail system will we have a chance to avert disaster.
Will our legislators take notice and act, or will we hear a big bang?
Waiting for approval are trains of natural gas from hydrofracking. Will we be ready for them?
Black’s death merited more news coverage
Society and the press sure have lopsided priorities.
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s drug death rated several front-page articles. The news of the talented and honorable Shirley Temple Black’s death was relegated to a much smaller article in the B section [Feb. 12 Gazette].