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Positive changes will take effect in schools

As a Buffalo Public Schools teacher, I attended the meeting at the Merriweather Library on Jan. 18 because I am deeply concerned with the current state of our schools and also, I wanted to hear what community members and parents believe are the correct steps to take to begin to solve our problems. From what I have read in The News and heard elsewhere, I was prepared to take a verbal beating as a teacher in this district.

Well, to say I was wrong is an understatement. From the first speaker to the last, every comment held no room for the blame game. Instead, people spoke passionately about the issues at hand, suggested possible solutions to those issues and asked questions that will lead to serious conversations. Audience members elaborated on the need for providing more services to our neediest children, keeping students with non-violent offenses in school, educating our teachers and administrators on cultural sensitivity, and utilizing the wealth of resources within our community, such as retired school leaders, non-profit organizations and mentors.

With all of the time and effort that went into the contributions made to the panel, I have to believe that positive changes will take effect in the district. There can be no excuses for failure to implement suggestions that can lead to more success for the children of Buffalo. As the area billboards say, "When Buffalo succeeds, we all succeed." The reverse is true as well, and I am sure that the active citizenry at the meeting will not rest until we have achieved that goal.

Allison Dinsmore

Williamsville

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GM salaried retirees deserve pension 'top off'

Rep. Kathy Hochul recently wrote to General Motors Chairman and CEO Daniel Akerson and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner strongly urging them to take immediate action to give GM/Delphi salaried retirees the same resolution that was afforded to the hourly retirees represented by the UAW. The resolution was a "top off" of pensions that had been reduced during actions taken by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.

The resolution was a cold, calculated negotiation between GM, the UAW and the government, represented by President Obama's Automotive Task Force. The salaried retirees were not represented in these negotiations. The omission of the salaried retirees even prompted an unprecedented response from Ron Gettelfinger, then UAW president, who stated the salaried retirees should receive the same "top off" agreement.

Yes, the GM/Delphi salaried retirees continue to fight for the pensions that were earned and deserved. There has been tremendous bipartisan support in both the Senate and House of Representatives, but no resolution to date. Pleas to Obama, Geithner and the PBGC have fallen on deaf ears. The two-year fight for this loyal group continues, as does the suffering from the actions taken by the people above.

So, when you consider buying or leasing your next vehicle, remember the heartless action taken by GM that has disrupted the lives of a dedicated group of retirees who spent their working lives for this company. Furthermore, when voting for the next president in November, remember the disgusting actions taken by Obama's administration that disrupted the lives of 21,000 Americans who have had their American dream of retirement dashed.

John Greco

Lockport

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Energy consumption is altering our planet

Reading the article on the Jan. 15 science page, "Fears on climate change," sent chills through me. Scientists from both the University of Connecticut and Cornell advised that climate change will soon necessitate relocating some animals, especially birds, as wildlife will be competing for survival in a circumscribed geographical territory. "Survival of the fittest" ironically comes to mind; only in this case, it is we humans who are imperiling our animals.

This article is sadly the first I have read in which climate scientists have capitulated to the inevitability of global warming rather than to warn of the coming disaster and to suggest measures we can take to at least ameliorate it.

It seems that in our relentless avarice to consume energy, compounded by the dishonesty of those politicians, big oil corporations and, yes, even a few scientists who continue to insist that climate change is fiction, we are now inexorably on the road to leaving our children and grandchildren a planet that will be a shadow of its former glorious self.

Iris Skoog

Williamsville

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Parents, not schools, should teach about sex

Did you read the article, "Sexual education updated" in the Jan. 10 News? As a parent, how does this sound to you? Advocates for Youth is one of the groups involved with proposing recommendations to states and school districts to encourage age-appropriate discussions about sex, bullying and healthy relationships, starting with a foundation, even before second grade. By the end of second grade, these recommendations say students should use the correct body part names for male and female anatomy, and also understand that all living things reproduce. Also, by the end of fifth grade, they should know that sexual orientation is "the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender."

The things I listed bother me because I don't think Advocates for Youth has any business suggesting to any school system, let alone parents, how to raise or teach their children. If parents are doing their job, and they should be, there's no need to be butting into people's lives. Look up the article and use your own judgment.

My children are grown, but if I have grandchildren, I don't want them subjected to this unwanted interference.

Thomas McGowan

West Seneca

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Obama wrong to reject TransCanada pipeline

President Obama has declared a halt to the TransCanada pipeline proposed to transport oil from Canada to the Gulf states. This project, paid for by private capital, would create 20,000 immediate jobs and an estimated 300,000 jobs by 2015. Obama talks a good game about creating jobs but never does anything to create any jobs. The only job he is interested in is his own. Obama is playing to the liberal environmental group that has pressured him.

The president's action is a slap in the face to our ally Canada. The president loves to please countries that are our enemies, but ignore our allies. This pipeline was our opportunity to help us get more independent and less reliant on OPEC oil.

Canada has an option to eventually transport this oil to China. Rather than get our oil from an ally, Obama apparently likes dealing with our enemies.

John W. Orlowski

Amherst