Buffalo School District has excellent teachers
The News coverage of the protest outside of the Buffalo Teachers Federation last week did not mention the fact that No Child Left Behind is the law of the land. Passed by Congress, the law requires that every state in our country have substantive teaching certification rules in place as soon as NCLB was enacted.
New York State has the most stringent and difficult to achieve/acquire licensing requirements in place. Perhaps, instead of protesting in front of BTF headquarters, Samuel Radford III would better serve his parent community by studying the provisions of the law and realizing that some of the most rigorously trained and dedicated teachers are already working in the Buffalo Public Schools.
If he feels that others would be better coaches, they should attend college and graduate school, obtain the necessary bachelor's and master's degrees, complete their supervised student teaching semester and take the mandated New York State certification exams. If those folks start now, and work continuously, we can have another conversation in six or seven years. You see, it takes more than a protest march to become a master teacher. A thoughtful reading of the NCLB law would be a good place to start.
Madonna Priore, B.A., Ms.Ed.
Bashing city teachers won't solve anything
I don't know Samuel Radford III. He doesn't know me. I have been a Buffalo teacher for more than 25 years. I don't have the cosmetic rider on my insurance. I have never had the cosmetic rider. Most of my friends don't have it either. I really am tired of Radford telling the world I am a terrible teacher because I am having cosmetic surgery -- not happening, buddy! I go to work an hour early every day. I leave work at least an hour after the children leave every day. I have been without a contract for more than eight years. This will impact my family's financial stability for the rest of my life.
Radford and the other teacher bashers need to know it is tough enough working in the city without their added pressure. Bright new teachers graduate from college every day. Do you really think they will want to teach in Buffalo so they can be told they are greedy and selfish? I don't think so, and unfortunately neither will they.
Lynn M. Diagostino
Town of Tonawanda
It's time for Radford to focus on the parents
I am curious as to why Samuel Radford III, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council, does not spend more of his efforts directed toward the people most responsible for the largest problem facing the Buffalo Public Schools. Radford tends to blame most school problems on the teachers, but even he should recognize that it is the parents, not the teachers, who determine whether their children attend school or not. All the money in the world will not make a difference in the after-school programs if the students we are most concerned about are not in attendance.
Attendance records traced back to elementary school can predict a student's academic success and the probability of that student graduating or dropping out. I suggest that Radford direct his efforts and his influence toward the group that he represents -- the parents. What possible excuse can thousands of parents have, every day, for not sending their children to school? Perhaps that is the problem his group should tackle.
Retired Buffalo school counselor
Close failing schools, move students elsewhere
Lately we have heard belly-aching about Buffalo's failing schools. Throwing good money at bad will not solve the problem. Buffalo schools are one school district. If one school is failing, close it and move students to another school in the district. Each school is like a small store. If it can't produce, close it. This will put less strain on the state coffers. I'm sure this will ruffle a few feathers, but let's face it, folks, the well is running dry. In suburban school districts, we pay school taxes until we die, even with no school-age children in the household. So let's stop bleeding the taxpayer, and live within our means.
Thomas J. Leone
Perhaps parents need to fight fire with fire
Based on the facts about the No Child Left Behind law presented in Amy Friedman's Another Voice, is it not possible for parents to file some type of class-action suit against the school system and the Buffalo Teachers Federation that would force both organizations to fulfill their obligations under the law? Our "sue-happy" culture troubles me, but sometimes there is no alternative. As I recall, it was necessary for the courts to oversee the desegregation of the city schools many years ago. The BTF is quick to use the power of the courts; perhaps parents need to take a page from their playbook.
Ultimately, parents are responsible to get their kids to school, but building motivation to overcome all the negative factors, in school and out, is not easy to do, especially if one is not yet convinced that education is crucial to success in life. Having a positive, stimulating environment would certainly help create motivation and, perhaps, even begin the process of collaborative effort between school and home, which benefits all involved.
Lora Lee Downer
Springville provides great quality of life
First, I would like to say that the Springville Center for the Arts is a shining star for this village and a true asset of which all should be proud and partake. However, I must take issue with Colin Dabkowski's negative view of the village. Springville offers many reasons to live here, and the quality of life for its hard-working residents is very good. We have a great school system with excellent teachers, and a hospital and other medical facilities staffed with highly qualified doctors and nurses. The Springville youth organization (SYI) and its sports programs are admired by many other communities thanks to its board and parents. The Boys and Girls Club is completing its new facility, again thanks to its board and many parents. Our fire company is second to none, and Springville is a safe place, thanks to our police force and the Sheriff's Department. We have a community pool and spray park, two beautiful village parks, tennis courts, free concerts in the park on Thursdays and the Pop Warner museum, all downtown.
As for Main Street, Dabkowski is far from the facts. From Academy Street to Elk, we have a healthy mix of shops, salons and restaurants. The Joyland Theater is still operating proudly, as well as hardware, jewelry and furniture stores, gift shops, a music store, a meat shop, antiques and, yes, an art gallery. Not everyone may agree with all the uses, but all serve a purpose.
Springville has done very well considering the times and will continue thanks to the people who are willing to put their own money and hard work into this downtown and fight the good fight.
If arts are important then don't cut classes
A recent Gusto article has touted the boom of the arts in Springville and the changing perceptions of the quality of the artist in such a small rural town. An essential part of changing perceptions needs to be found in the education we are willing to provide our youth. This year's budget in the Springville School District has illustrated where the School Board places value; these "funner" classes, as one board member put it, are clearly not of high value: 2.5 positions out of 6 in the K-12 Art Department will be cut with the proposed budget for next year (36 total staff members will be let go if the budget passes). If the arts are of such value to this community, and are responsible for reinvigorating an area, why is this lifeline being cut before it has the chance to flourish? When the art courses are cut, who will continue the important work being done?
We shouldn't have to keep having the discussion of the value of the arts in education. We know that the arts improve students' self-esteem, level of engagement in school, independence and critical thinking. Arts integration decreases the performance gap between poor communities and others, 14 percent in math and 26 percent in reading. When artists move in to downtrodden areas, they slowly come alive again, as businesses soon follow (Look at SoHo in New York City). We can see this in Springville. The town has done well, but needs to start with the most basic level, the one that will ensure in the future, someone will care about the work being done, and take it as their calling to continue it. If a school district teaches that the arts are superfluous in school, why should students think differently for their community?
Opponents will fight wind turbines with facts
The facts regarding the wind turbines, whether they are offshore or land based, are well documented. The opposition that defeated the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project will bring scientists, engineers, economists and avian experts to defeat another attempt to place wind turbines in either Lake Erie or Lake Ontario.
The claim of 20 jobs per megawatt, with a potential installed capacity of 143,000 megawatts, would mean 2,860,000 new jobs! That is 10 times the population of Buffalo. Statistics like these may sound nice to the casual observer, but the facts based on years of data will show a different result. The opposition is ready.
Roy T. Lindberg
Barring contraception defies common sense
The April 5 letter titled "Don't force the church to violate its teachings" needs some clarification. The writer, with the statement "This 'sensible social policy' encourages immoral behavior," implies any sexual activity other than for the purpose of procreation is sinful. Gee, this sure adds up to a lot of sinners, i.e., couples who aren't able to conceive, older couples past the ability to conceive, gays, lesbians and all those people who enjoy sexual intimacy simply for the pleasure of it. Oh, my!
All of this is sheer nonsense against basic human nature. But I know the program Catholics and other conservative religions promote that is the worst sin in the history of humankind. That is this unmoving pressure to prevent worldwide family planning programs and freely available birth control. It results in thousands of children dying per day due to the unavailability of sufficient food and medical care. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
David F. Baker