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People should be outraged, but for different reasons

The front-page article in the Oct. 20 News describes a visit by New York State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. With 13 of Buffalo's 68 public schools designated "persistently low achieving," King is angry that turnaround plans have not been submitted for seven of them. "People," he says, "ought to be outraged. People out to be camping out in parks over the performance of their schools." I agree that people ought to be outraged, but for different reasons.

People ought to be outraged because the State Department of Education has known for years that there are flaws in the standardized tests.

People ought to be outraged because King, according to the report, came to Buffalo on Oct. 19 with Regent Robert Bennett "to meet with leaders in the business and philanthropic community."

People ought to be outraged because there is no mention of consultations with teachers, teacher's aides, principals or parents. There is no mention of making even flyby VIP visits to some of the PLA schools, let alone actually spending some time in a few to gain some understanding of the challenges in low-income schools for educators and students.

People ought to be outraged because of the persistent inequitable funding of public schools. They ought to be outraged that schools serving non-English speaking communities are punished because their students score lower on English tests. They ought to be outraged because the unreasonable demands of No Child Left Behind and now Race to the Top are undermining our public school systems.

Have King and Bennett ever heard of "reforms" that are so stupid and destructive that they should be resisted?

Adeline Levine

Buffalo

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Poloncarz will represent most citizens' interests

There is a unique feel to Mark Poloncarz's campaign for Erie County executive. Here is a candidate who has very little funds, garnered from both poor and middle-class workers, running against a candidate who has the vigorous financial backing of local millionaires. It is the classic American underdog battling against overwhelming odds for the underrepresented. Can such a battle have a happy ending in our modern-day, money-driven political campaigns?

One thing is for sure -- Chris Collins is not a shy opponent. He and his campaign spokesmen regularly claim that he, and he alone, knows how to create jobs, manage Erie County's funds properly and run its various departments efficiently and effectively. These claims can only succeed if voters don't know the inner workings of the Collins administration's use of funds; if they don't actually go to a county park and see the gross decay; if they don't drive around much and therefore conclude that the badly maintained roads they see are a rare exception. Campaign hyperbole works if you don't ask questions -- questions like: Where are all these jobs Collins has created?

Perhaps the best example of campaign tomfoolery is the accusation that Poloncarz will be "in the pocket" of his poor and middle-class supporters while Collins is above all possible influence. Here's a question: Why are all these millionaires so happy to donate to Collins? Poloncarz is the candidate who will work for and respect the vast majority of county citizens' interests.

Alphonse Kolodziejczak

Williamsville

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Let the league address tobacco use in baseball

Let me first say that I despise cigarette smoking. I believe that it stinks, is a ridiculously expensive habit and shaves years off of people's lives. I applaud the many steps taken in the past few decades to diminish smoking in public. It is hard to imagine as a kid that smoking in offices, airplanes, restaurants and arenas was once commonplace. I truly do hope the trend in a reduction of smokers continues for generations to come.

However, I am extremely troubled with the fact that members of the U.S. Senate are seeking to ban smokeless tobacco from Major League Baseball. It is an issue that should be most properly addressed during collective bargaining. With two wars that are bankrupting our nation, an unemployment rate that is dangerously high, a housing market that is stuck in the mud and a health care and literacy crisis that is a global embarrassment, it boggles my mind that the time-honored tradition of smokeless tobacco and baseball even registers as a blip on the screen of our nation's leaders. I think it is time for those who represent us to get their priorities in line.

M. Scott Chismar

Lake View

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Occupy movement comes as no surprise

There have been several articles about the Occupy Wall Street movement and many critical assessments of our government giving rise to a revolution of righteous indignation. No one should be surprised at this response.

Corruption, greed and power lust have invaded every institution with little or no accountability. We have lost our moral compass. We have become slaves to technology, some of which has replaced human relationships. We have allowed media venues to define and spin the truth, causing confusion among the masses. Humanitarianism is all but dead as the "me" generation plods blindly ahead in pursuit of happiness, buried in credit card debt. We have become a culture of death.

There is an undercurrent of "change" being sought by a long-suffering contingency that grows tired of the lies and seeks to uphold the traditions and promises of the founding fathers of this once great nation. Truth is incorruptible and the proponents of corruption and greed had better take note. The winds of change are blowing everywhere, and the cry of the people is, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

Dawn Curazzato

Williamsville

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Countless people share protesters' concerns

After having read the letter, "Liberals should protect babies lost to abortion," and knowing that it is not only liberals and Democrats who are pro-choice, I googled "pro-choice Republicans." The writer may want to do the same search, because there are obviously very many Republicans who also back this Occupy movement. I would posit that concern for the 99 percent of the people who worry about their bills, health care, etc., cannot be compared to the concerns of either the pro-life or pro-choice movements. The concerns of the 99 percent are based on an economic situation for people who are alive and involves social and ethical matters. The other two involve ethical and moral questions based on personal/subjective beliefs as to when life begins.

Elisse Marie Antczak

Depew