Ethnicity of teachers is irrelevant to learning

Rod Watson's recent column regarding the possibility of "parent evaluations" was interesting, but I must strongly disagree with an unsubstantiated statement that tried to connect student absenteeism with the possibility of the "disconnect" between mainly white middle-class teachers and the urban students they work with. I must emphatically state that there are no valid, proven, substantiated or reliable studies that stand up to the test of time showing what he is inferring and trying to say -- that minority teachers might prove more effective than the current staff working in the Buffalo Public Schools.

Good teachers are effective teachers and show positive academic achievement with their students regardless of whether they are white, black or any other ethnic makeup. Bad teachers are ineffective teachers and show poor academic achievement with their students regardless of whether they are white, black or any other ethnic makeup.

Magnifying this statement has been the unfortunate message sent out by a few board members over the past 30 years or so; specifically inferring that our urban students might have a better chance of succeeding if there were more minority teachers, administrators and a minority superintendent. This message is not only completely erroneous, but is inappropriate, unfair and has done irreparable damage to the morale and credibility of all staff members regardless of their ethnic background.

Larry Gustina



Community must fight to keep the mail center

The closing of the William Street mail processing center in Buffalo will be devastating to an area already struggling to keep its head above water. Aside from those 700 or so good-paying jobs lost or removed from the vicinity, the negative impact will also be felt by the small businesses in that neighborhood that rely on those workers to sustain.

Also, once it is closed there will be yet another in a series of large abandoned buildings in an already ghost-town neighborhood. This region, home to so many generous, compassionate and caring individuals, should not have to take another hit. Those postal workers have done a lot for our community, including the spearheading of an enormous annual food drive that provides food to thousands of local folks in need. They are homeowners and taxpayers who shop and spend here. As a community, the rest of us need to stand up for these workers. Let's, at least, not go down without a fight!

Polla Milligan



Many people will suffer if buses are eliminated

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is proposing, in addition to the fare increase of 25 cents per person, to charge those who ride "express" buses (with numbers 60 and higher) an additional surcharge of 50 cents per ride. This is an increase of 75 cents per ride, or nearly 45 percent for those people who ride these buses. Some of those buses, like the No. 65 and No. 67, are not true express buses. They service the suburbs, but also service a portion of the City of Buffalo. The proposed surcharge does not just apply to those who ride in the suburbs, but regardless of where a person gets on/off.

There is also a proposal to eliminate certain runs, including the No. 65. The statistics of the number of riders being used by the NFTA are a year old! The NFTA eliminated one run of this route in October 2010, leaving only one run in each direction per day. Now it is proposing to totally eliminate this route. An informal survey was conducted on this bus, and it was determined that most of the riders do not have a car available to them to use to get to/from work, which is the reason for using public transportation.

The NFTA has to realize that people's lives depend on the buses. The NFTA's slogan is "transit made easy," but this is not the case for those who ride the No. 65 bus. Transit made easy would be, first of all, not eliminating our route, and secondly, making the schedules (for all buses) more conducive to work schedules.

The department heads and commissioners of the NFTA do not ride the bus, therefore, they are not supporting their employer. I think it is high time that we make them accountable, primarily to the people who ride the buses: the people who help pay their salaries!

Norma Stading



Most barn cats are well-cared-for pets

I would like to respond to the suggestion in the March 7 My View column that feral cats and barn cats lead similar lives, wild and free-roaming. Responsible barn owners do not have feral cats. The cats that reside in well-maintained barns are immunized, neutered/spayed and kept free of fleas. They are fed every day. They do not have to search for food, although they may reduce the rodent population. Additionally, in my barn, my cats had heated beds and a heated water bowl in the winter.

When irresponsible people drop their kittens off at a barn, the barn owner is left to deal with the unwanted kittens and all of their problems. The kittens bring disease, fleas, eye infections and, of course, they are not neutered/spayed. The barn cat population is put at risk by strange cats. Older cats also fight with the resident population. Injuries and infections (and vet bills) result. Barn cats are not feral. They are pets, often exceedingly friendly, who happen to reside in the barn. Please do not assume that your discarded animals are welcome additions to the population.

Susan Braen



Civilized discourse is lacking in society

I am a Catholic (not one of the Rev. Leon Biernat's parishioners) who attended the town hall meeting in Lancaster. I felt ashamed to be a Catholic because of how Rep. Kathy Hochul was treated. The lack of respect shown to her was deplorable. I admire her for keeping her cool.

I am very disappointed in what I believe was an ambush. For the reverend to hand out multiple questions for people to throw at her without giving her any advance notice was a cowardly thing to do and was an act of intimidation and grandstanding. If he wanted thoughtful answers to all these questions, he should have contacted Hochul's office before the meeting and brought up his concerns. She then could have provided him with better answers.

I went to this meeting in hopes of getting some information on what Congress is doing to create jobs. I am also concerned about tax policy and the war. The questions on birth control took up more than three-quarters of the meeting!

If this is the way we treat people who want to serve our country, I can see why many don't want to seek office. When a decent compromise proposed by the president creates such hostility, I wonder if anything can ever get done again by our political leaders.

Joseph Pace