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Buffalo students helped paint McKinley mural

The July 28 News featured the photo, "New Vista on Olmsted: McKinley High School mural." While it is wonderful to see the beautification of our city, especially from the talents of nationally recognized muralist Augustina Droze, one important aspect of this project was overlooked.

Eleven students from the Buffalo Public Schools participated in the painting of the mural. They were afforded the opportunity to learn from Droze and to help her carry out her vision of the McKinley mural project. The Buffalo Public Schools Foundation was proud to provide a grant to fund a teacher to work with Droze to oversee the project and assist in educating our students in the art of murals and its process.

Research shows that visual arts classes boost student achievement, reduce discipline problems and increase the odds that students will go on to graduate from college. The arts have a broad range of indirect benefits. Students who study the arts are taught to see better, to envision, to persist, to be playful and learn from mistakes, to make critical judgments and justify such judgments. Students learn that the limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition. Art teaches one to learn to say what cannot be said.

Projects such as this extend much further than the eye can see. Although the arts do not easily lend themselves to quantifiable measurements in today's high-stakes testing environment, they clearly provide fundamental skills that make for stronger students. Congratulations to all involved in this project.

Liz Zulawski

Executive Director

Buffalo Public Schools Foundation

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Hosting exchange students is a wonderful experience

Kudos to Kay Patterson for highlighting the benefits of hosting international exchange students -- and to The Buffalo News for prominently featuring her piece on the eve of the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Her family's experience with a Japanese student in the 1960s became a lifelong friendship, building powerful bridges between former adversarial nations. My children and I experienced this in the 1990s when I host-parented two wonderful students from Germany, also our enemy just decades before. Although hosting can be a significant responsibility, I would encourage those who are able to open their homes and hearts to young people from other countries.

Sharon Green

Buffalo

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Serious debt reduction won't fix ailing economy

Congress and state legislatures reverberate with strident voices calling for the reduction of government spending. "Living within our means" is a praiseworthy principle, but in the face of 9.1 percent unemployment it also has adverse consequences. Reduction of government spending reduces aggregate demand and that, in turn, increases unemployment. The blizzard of pink slips currently descending upon the unluckier federal and state employees illustrates the consequences of cutting government spending.

Increases in consumer spending and private investment would reduce the unemployment-boosting effect of reduced government spending, but at the moment U.S. consumers endeavor to save more while many companies sit on large piles of cash. Uncertainty about the course of the economy breeds excessive caution, and our elected representatives in Washington are very good at constructing uncertainties.

Aggregate demand can be stimulated by tax reduction. However, in the short run, lower taxes bring less revenue to the Treasury. In 2011, some 57 percent of federal revenue goes into entitlement spending, 62 percent if one adds interest payments on the public debt. These are contractual obligations that must be met unless Congress changes the respective laws. Until that happens, tax reduction will necessitate additional borrowing.

Without net additional government spending, the unemployment rate is not likely to fall radically. The government should stimulate labor-intensive industries. Unfortunately the bulk of our labor-intensive manufacturing industries have moved to China and other far-away places. But the government can play a major role in boosting infrastructure investment. Serious debt reduction had better wait until the economy gains greater strength and Congress musters the courage to fix the legislation that governs expenditures on the various entitlement programs.

George J. Neimanis

Professor of economics, emeritus

Niagara University

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Paul's message appeals to all kinds of people

As much of the mainstream media has largely ignored Rep. Ron Paul's candidacy for president of the United States, I was happy to see that The News covered his appearance in East Aurora on Aug. 5.

That being said, I was taken aback that the author of this piece made it a point to mention "the all-white crowd [that] seemed to thrive on Paul's message." I am not sure why the racial makeup of the crowd is of any significance. It is 2011. I would like to think that, by now, people no longer see skin color as a factor that divides us as American citizens.

The tea party has increasingly been labeled as a racially motivated movement, and it is this kind of statement that advances this utterly false contention. Furthermore, I can assure readers that Paul was not speaking to an all-white crowd. I am Asian and attended the event.

Kathryn DeLong

President, University at Buffalo

College Republicans

Clarence

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Far too many drivers fail to use turn signals

Our cars are equipped with turn signals in order to make other drivers aware of our intentions to turn right or left or to change lanes. It doesn't do much good if the signal is turned on at the same time we begin that turn.

How frustrating it is to be behind a car, waiting at a red light, and, as the light turns green, the driver signals for a left turn. Or you're at a stop sign, waiting for the oncoming car to pass, and as it makes a right turn into your street, the turn signal comes on.

Please, use those turn signals well in advance of moves. They surely won't wear out the longer you use them. Show the same courtesy to other drivers that you would hope to receive from them.

Anne Koberstein

Tonawanda

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Pass new amendment for Congress members

Regarding the national debt: President Obama has said, "Everything is on the table." As an entree, I would like to suggest a new amendment: "The president and members of Congress cannot exempt themselves from any law that they enact." Hint, hint: health care!

Kathryn Morgan

Orchard Park