Readers Write: New Port schools superintendent favors opt-out

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Readers Write: New Port schools superintendent favors opt-out

As a Port resident, a graduate of the Harvard School of Education and a former high school teacher, I am proud of the achievements of Schreiber High School students. They have garnered top honors in the Intel, Westinghouse and Regeneron competitions.  A senior won a Merit scholarship a few weeks ago and Schreiber has set records for its numbers of Merit semi-finalists and finalists. Our AP offerings are extensive with acceptances into first-rate colleges impressive. 

How sad that with the appointment of Michael Hynes as superintendent of schools and with the election of school board candidates who are champions of the “opt out” movement, we may well find the glory days behind us. 

 

What was there in Hynes’s background that garnered such enthusiasm on the part of our school board?  Was it his pledge to “abolish the U.S. Department of Education and standardized testing?”  Was it his championship of meditation and yoga? His increase in the number of recess and playtime periods? While Hynes was Patchogue-Medford’s school chief, recess was doubled from 20 minutes to 40 minutes and play-time was reintroduced into the classroom.  Was he successful, and how does one measure success anyway in the absence of testing?

 Hynes’s tenure at the Shelter Island School District with total enrollment of 223 students provides little preparation for the Port Washington School District’s 5500 student body.  While he spent four years as superintendent of the Patchogue-Medford school system with a large student body, its high school placed  No. 465 in New York state, according to the latest U.S. News & World reports and No. 261 in the Niche assessment. Schreiber ranked No. 62 in U.S. News & World reports and No. 28 in Niche.

 

With the allure of Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, and Snap Chat, it becomes increasingly more difficult for students to find time to study or just to read for pleasure (a bygone pastime, it seems).  We look to our schools then to offer challenging courses.  We look to our schools to stimulate and engage young minds.   More recess?  I think not.  Better to have more history, literature and mathematics.

 

Outgoing superintendent Kathleen Moony noted that it was important to address the academic needs of students, but in your recent article, however, Hynes does not make reference to the world of academia, achievement or scholarship.

 

I am not an elitist.  I am proud that our school system has an excellent ESL program, a wonderful record of absorbing new Americans into our community, a vast network of social services and guidance programs. But we must never forget that we have an obligation to offer the finest education possible so that Port Washington’s next generation of scientists, physicians and economists won’t “opt out” of public education here in order to enroll in other communities or in private schools where state rankings are not considered dirty words and homework is viewed as a necessary adjunct to course material.

Judith Sloan

Port Washington

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