Thanks for volunteers who helped with cleanup at historic site

*Thanks for volunteers who helped with cleanup at historic site *Standardized testing a poor measure

Thanks for volunteers who helped with cleanup at historic site

We would like to take the opportunity to express our appreciation for the wonderful volunteers that recently helped out at Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site for the 10th annual Canal Clean Sweep event on April 18.

Over 30 volunteers from General Electric and the Boys Scouts Saratoga Pack 70, along with local volunteers and site grounds crew, conducted projects clearing debris at two locations along the Erie Canal.

Brush was cut near the former location of the 1840s to 1916 Lock 30, and along the canal prism. The Scouts did a fantastic job cleaning up debris and clearing brush at Yankee Hill Lock. Also, a group of volunteers assisted by walking the Towpath Trail, picking up litter and trimming back branches so that the paths may be enjoyed by anyone visiting the site.

In particular, we would like to note the efforts of James D. Dunavin, Thomas Ostrander, Pack 70, and the Appalachian Mountain Club Mohawk-Hudson Chapter. A special thanks goes to Amanda for ensuring everyone was properly hydrated and that they received a lunch.

We are honored that so many came to the site to spend a wonderful spring morning giving their time and doing a tremendous amount of work. The day truly showed what wonderful partnerships and people we are proudly connected with. The site looks better for all their hard work, and we again say, thank you.

David Brooks

Fort Hunter

The writer is the education coordinator for Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site.

Standardized testing a poor measure of teacher quality

In response to George W. Putnam’s April 22 letter (“Students are pawns in opt-out initiative): Congratulations, sir. Truly spoken like someone with no actual facts, just a lot of opinion and rhetoric. You assert that students are being used and manipulated and prejudiced against. I agree, they are pawns — being sacrificed by King Cuomo and Queen Tisch.

Threatening to withhold funds to the students if teachers do not comply with Common Core, or if a certain percentage of students don’t sit for the tests, is nothing short of state-sponsored extortion. Threatening to fire good teachers who don’t exceed some arbitrary standard set by a man who has never been an educator himself is first degree chutzpah.

You believe it is unfair for the parents and teachers to support the opt-out movement, but your only justification for this belief is that the students won’t get into good colleges or get good jobs. That is a misconception of what standardized — or aptitude — tests are. Fewer colleges than ever base their admissions upon the SATs anymore, because it has been shown that success or failure on aptitude tests are not any kind of indicator of what kind of student someone will be, their capability for learning, or what their actual intelligence is.

Colleges today primarily look at overall academic achievement, extra-curricular activities, and community service. As for employment, I don’t recall ever having a prospective employer ask me if I knew what is to elephant if marsupial is to kangaroo, but they certainly were interested in if I could think outside the box — something Common Core actively discourages.

Perhaps you should educate yourself on what Common Core and standardized tests are, and what the actual effects are. You could begin by learning that Common Core treats all students as though they learn the same way, which is a huge fallacy. Perhaps you could try placing yourself in the shoes of parents who are angry that their children are being forced to take a test that includes questions on things that they have never been taught, and are above their capabilities.

I can show a 5-year-old how to perform a tracheotomy, but I don’t expect them to be able to understand it. Maybe place yourself in the shoes of students who, in addition to the anxiety heaped upon them by a governor who is already telling them that they aren’t as smart as his precious charter school students, also have to cope with being compared to all their peers when the “scores” are released for their tests. Yes, scores. Not grades. Apparently, education has become a competitive sport.

Maybe you could place yourself in the shoes of the teachers, the ones who actually impact the lives of the students, and see that basing even 50 percent of their evaluation upon standardized testing is not only flawed, but insulting. There are many reasons a student may do poorly on standardized tests, from not being able to answer questions based on things they never learned, to not feeling well, to being poor test takers, to sheer stress. Note how not one of those things have anything to do with the teachers. I’m not sure where you were actually going with parroting the percentages of students who opted out, because you mention three of them and then never actually complete your thought process. However, you are right that students are pawns, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch are holding the sacrificial swords.

Standardized testing is flawed because there is no such thing as a standardized student.

Sean Mearns


Categories: Letters to the Editor

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