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Only an educated citizenry can overcome our challenges

In school districts across the United States, curriculum and instruction is driven by heavy testing and assessment in the areas of reading and math, which result in the neglect of other crucial academic areas such as social studies. It's discouraging to see the lack of knowledge our children have in the core areas of social studies, including history, geography, economics and government.

We've all seen the late night talk show hosts show a random person on the street the photo of a world leader or historic figure, only to have the person unable to identify the individual in the photo. To some this is funny, however it points back to the sad reality that we are entering society with little knowledge of the past or world events that shape our future. Strict state mandates prevent most teachers from focusing on areas such as geography and economics and students continue to progress to the next level of their education unable to identify India on a map, or describe basic supply and demand economics.

As a country, we face economic hardships as well as continual unrest with hostile nations abroad. The only way to face these challenges is through an educated society. Educators and policymakers must create and implement with fidelity a comprehensive curriculum that fully educates students on the basic core areas of social studies starting in the primary grades.

As former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch puts it, education is the key to developing human capital. She adds that a democratic society cannot long sustain itself if its citizens are uninformed and indifferent about its history, its government and the workings of its economy.

Steve Metzger

Teacher, Orchard Park

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U.S. must protect itself from computer attacks

The recent reported major loss of sensitive data from a defense industry computer network is especially alarming since it has been going on for several years (per prior reports). The July 15 Associated Press article refers to Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn's statement that intrusions have compromised some of the most sensitive systems (for example, surveillance and satellite communications).

I recall the Defense Department bought computers from China (years ago IBM sold their PC business to a certain Chinese company), and being knowledgeable about computers, I believed this put us in jeopardy. Also, John Wheeler III, former Pentagon official, developed a cyberattack plan but said more had to be done (he was the key person in getting the Vietnam War Memorial wall erected).

Why are we so vulnerable and why can't we ask MIT (or whomever, considering all the advanced knowledge we have) to develop these critical protections we need. Are the right people on the job?

Vic Kessinger

North Tonawanda

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Area's supposed leaders only serve themselves

I found the News editorial questioning the lack of leadership regarding the Peace Bridge interesting, particularly because the answer was on a preceding page. The example being Chris Collins' arrogant and self-serving attitude at a Fourth of July parade. Self-serving, visionless "leaders" are the standard here.

Why does any politician have any place in a parade meant for those who provided true service, let alone first place? While we are on the subject of self-serving, you may recall that as soon as the new bridge plans were announced, tolls were increased in order to "pay for the new bridge."

With tolls now at $3, and no new bridge, do we get a refund, or at least a toll reduction? Fat chance "authority" is the operative word in their name.

Bob Tortorici

Orchard Park

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Buffalo was too slow in recognizing new law

The same-sex marriage bill that was recently signed into law has galvanized many people. Reactions on both sides have been fevered. As a gay man, I am thrilled at the thought of being able to "legalize" my relationship of more than 20 years.

Being long-time citizens and taxpayers of the City of Buffalo, we were looking forward to getting our license in City Hall and getting married there, as well. This is our home, after all. Trying to get information out of City Hall was a nightmare. People on the phone had been able to provide no information and actually sounded annoyed at the questions. At that time, the city was not making any accommodation to extend hours for issuing licenses on July 24 (the day it becomes legal), nor make any changes to its schedule. Since then, Buffalo has decided to open its doors on Sundays for marriage licenses. But that doesn't change what happened.

After reaching a breaking point, we decided to try the City of Niagara Falls. What a great experience. The people within the clerk's office could not have been more helpful. We were able to schedule an appointment to get our license on July 24. Furthermore, we were able to arrange for a private ceremony, outdoors, in view of the falls.

I am happy to hand over the licensing and fees associated with the marriage ceremony to Niagara Falls. An attitude adjustment is most certainly required in the City of Buffalo's clerk's office. At approximately $160 per marriage, it's a lot of money to let slip through the fingers of a city in financially strapped times; not to mention the monies that will be spent post-ceremony for the celebrations.

So, in conclusion, cheers and thanks to Niagara Falls, USA, and to our "City of Good Neighbors," get with the program.

Mark A. Moretti

Buffalo

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Washington politicians are acting like clowns

Is anyone else out there getting tired of watching the "D.C. Circus"?

On one side, we'll call them the happy-faced clowns. We have "no cuts to benefits" like Social Security or Medicare. On the other side are the sad-faced clowns who cry, "no tax increases" or canceling of tax-cuts or closing loopholes.

How about this? Divide the total dollar amount of deficit reduction that is required in half and have the happy clowns come up with that amount of tax increases or "revenue increases."

Then the sad clowns get to do the same with cutting benefits or "spending cuts." This way it's a wash, neither side declares victory. Go home happy you didn't lose, or if you'll sleep better at night, claim the other side didn't win.

Since they will surely fight over who picks first because the latter would be viewed as canceling out the first, let them play rock, paper, scissors to see who goes first. Sounds fair and should be something they could grasp.

Now, I am smart enough to know that both sides are waiting for the other side to blink first. But guys, I'm not sure if clowns blink! And I for one am not watching any more circuses until clowns learn to play nice!

Philip T. Pac

Bliss