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Faith in Tomorrow plan outlines a positive vision

I read with interest The News article, "Diocesan education faces harsh new realities." As the chairman of the board of trustees of St. Mary's High School in Lancaster and a participant in the diocesan planning process, I was disappointed with The News' negative portrayal of a very positive plan for the future of Catholic education in Western New York.

The Faith in Tomorrow plan outlines a positive vision that foresees a strengthened connection between our schools and the faith community. The plan calls for investing in facilities, technology upgrades and addressing issues of transportation and access. It envisions a system able to meet the majority of demonstrated financial need -- to ensure access to a quality, faith-based education for all -- and enhances the focus on the marketing of Catholic schools' academic success.

Just as the Catholic schools of today -- with small class sizes, modern technology and lay faculty and leadership are very different from the cramped buildings and women religious-led schools of yesteryear -- the Catholic schools of tomorrow will be different from today. What won't change is the role of the Catholic school as a center of the Catholic community and a haven in a secular world where faith, morals and values not only have a place, but are fostered.

Change is an inevitable part of progress and I hope that future articles can focus on the progress to come, as we reinvent our Catholic schools for a new generation, rather than focusing on the negative.

Nicholas Fiume

Lancaster

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Listen to students' views about ECC City Campus

This is in response to the editorial, "ECC should look to the city." I have been a professor in the Criminal Justice Department at Erie Community College North Campus for approximately 20 years. This issue has come up several times in the past and we addressed it with our criminal justice students, who number about 590 full-time students. Every time we surveyed the students, more than 90 percent told us they would not go to the City Campus.

Since we as a college service our students, maybe we should listen to them instead of listening to some politicians with different interests.

Richard T. Kurek

Middleport

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Blue-collar employees work hard for their pay

I am a 44-year-old male who did not attend college for various reasons. Throughout the years, I have furthered my education through various classes and research. However, with three kids and a full-time job, time is an issue.

Besides being a middle-class father and husband, I am a manufacturing plant worker. I have been working in this capacity for 21 years. I have suffered broken bones, concussions and needed minor surgeries resulting from my job. I have crawled home after a 12-hour shift wondering how I was going to do it again in 12 hours. I have jerked awake behind the wheel of my truck on the way home because I was so exhausted I fell asleep. I have worked in the winter with no heat and in the summer with no air conditioning in an airless, windowless plant. I worked mandatory 12-hour shifts on every weekend for 16 of these past 21 years, always keeping the same wage.

It has only been in the last few years that I have felt resentment toward my profession, coming mainly from white-collar America and the media. Like I have said, I did not go to college. However, I do respect the personal financial sacrifices made for those who did. With that said, I would like to make a few points clear. I deserve my wage. I work hard for it. My being in a union is not affecting your job opportunities. Blue-collar workers and unions are not responsible for the state of the economy. This is a deflection. You can blame the state of the economy, not only in New York but across the country, on corporate-backed politicians. Our jobs are on their way to China, India and Mexico. Unfair labor policy and corporate greed are selling out this country.

Mark Thomas

Niagara Falls

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Remove administrators failing Buffalo schools

OK, do I think Folasade Oladele deserves a year's compensation for finally leaving the Buffalo Public Schools? Let's see, she was hired after me for more than three times what I earned. She got raises while my salary was frozen by the control board for six years.

She professed that special education was nothing more than a deficiency in reading ability. Teachers being paid as special education teachers were forced to spend time teaching reading to students not identified as special education. She promoted the costly "language" program that wasted the time of our middle school students and teachers with phonics when they should have been learning reading comprehension.

Should she be given an amount of money that could be used to hire three teachers, just to do the right thing and leave? I think I have to agree with Carl Paladino on this one. Send her away with what she has already taken from Buffalo and take a good hard look at the rest of the exempt administrators. If they're not making the system work better and show improved results, then they're wasting our city's valuable and limited resources and should be shown the door.

Tom Hall

Hamburg

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Honest debate needed on government's duties

I rarely agree with Charles Krauthammer's opinions, but I could not agree more with his recommendation that we, as a nation, make the 2012 elections a choice "between two distinct visions of government." We, as local municipalities, as states, and as a nation, are confronted as never before with financial realities that will force changes upon us if we do not act in advance. Before we act, however, we should debate and decide what we want from our government.

It should be an honest debate, but I doubt that it will be. There is too much money at stake. And we all know that when there is money at stake, the "monied interests" will do everything they can to salvage, if not enhance, their current position. But this will never change, so we may as well have this debate now, when so much attention is focused on government and so much hangs in the balance.

We should start with the Constitution. What does it mean to "establish justice"? What does it mean to "insure domestic tranquility"? What does it mean to "provide for the common defense"? What does it mean to "promote the general welfare"? What does it mean to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity"? Those are the five components set out by the framers to "form a more perfect union." Let's decide what they mean and elect those who will support that collective vision.

Once we decide what we, as a nation, want from government, it is then just a matter of paying for it.

Joseph R. Riggie

Kenmore