Let students start at 5
Let me echo the statements of Elena Quinn from Port Jervis: Four-year-olds are too young for kindergarten. Especially kindergarten as it is in 2012.
Several years ago I started questioning why New York state had a cutoff date of Dec. 1 when most states require kindergarten students to be 5 by Sept. 1 of the school year. On top of that, with New York State Standards and the push for No Child Left Behind, New York has pushed the curriculum down a year so children are expected to be reading by the end of their kindergarten year.
No more playing, socializing or nap time in kindergarten. It's all reading, writing and math. As a result, many children are not ready to meet those demands at their young ages. The situation is even worse for male students whose maturation generally lags a few months behind female students.
As a school psychologist, I was frequently called upon to evaluate students with weak motor skills, inappropriate social skills or poor academic-readiness skills. Many of the children were just too young or too immature to handle the academic expectations. Are we setting these kids up to fail? I say yes, especially for children whose ability is average or below. Those who are more intellectually capable often are able to compensate until their immature motor systems catch up. Please, please, verbalize your concerns for our youngest students. Let them be 5 before they start kindergarten.
Linda D. Nelson | Kenmore
Recognize speech teachers
I have been meaning to write this note for ages. I am so glad that you published Stephanie Verrico's article (NYSUT United, July/August 2011). I worked in the public schools for six years and enjoyed my time there. I am proud of being a teacher. However, I have always been disappointed in the low profile of speech teachers and in the stance that a bachelor's degree is a sufficient level of knowledge to be a speech-language pathologist in the public schools. Well, I had a bachelor's from a good school when I was in the public schools and I did not know enough at all to treat the children on my caseload with head injury, cleft palate and hearing impairments. And the children's difficulties are more complex now than ever. Our children deserve the highest qualified providers; and school speech teachers with master's degrees and Certifications of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association deserve recognition and pay for having obtained those high qualifications.
Deborah Insalaco | Buffalo State College
A surcharge to help programs
We all know that public schools in New York and, indeed, the entire U.S., are in great need of increased funding. Therefore, I propose a way to help raise financial relief for a significant segment of education. I truly believe those of us in favor of greater financial support for our schools will be able to overwhelm, in a debate, those who oppose my plan with ease. Our arguments have been identified in all the media for decades. It's very simple to point out that a 2.5 percent surtax be added to tickets to all professional sports, live and film theaters, concerts, etc., with 100 percent of the funds raised used for financial aid to these very same activities in the public secondary schools. If enough funds are raised to help elementary grades, then that's even better. As you know, these programs are being cut everywhere.
Joe Klein | Spring Valley
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