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Don't blame administrators for students' bad behavior

A recent News article regarding the high rates of student suspensions in the Buffalo schools was really alarming. Some parents, grandparents and even community activists took administrators to task for levying discipline for "minor infractions." Examples cited were students who were tardy, using cellphones and roaming the halls. I find it incredulous that once again, misguided people are blaming teachers and administrators for their own kids' bad behavior.

Schools are places where we send our kids to learn. These same kids who regularly break the rules also make it more difficult for those who are attempting to get a quality education. If the suspension of troublemakers leads to them ultimately dropping out, that would be unfortunate. However, it's better to have them gone if their absence creates an atmosphere where others may actually learn.

Even more disturbing to me was the insinuation that race was involved in suspensions. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a white guy from the suburbs. However, I am confident that the district's policies regarding cellphones, roaming the halls and tardiness apply to all races.

M. Scott Chismar

Lake View

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Winter concert was a grand performance

It was indeed my honor to be invited to the annual winter concert at Hillery Park Elementary School in Buffalo. I was treated to an excellent performance by the Hillery Park Huskies Concert Band, the Elementary Chorus, the Hillery Park Wind Ensemble and the Middle School Chorus. The two choral groups each included a song sung in Latin, apparently not a dead language at Hillery Park.

The work put into this concert by both the teachers and the students was clearly evident. With so many bad comments about teachers and students surfacing in the news lately, it was a pleasure to see this grand performance. I applaud the fine, dedicated teachers who put this concert together and the students who found time for both schoolwork and membership in band and/or chorus. Bravo!

Andrea J. Mudd

Cheektowaga

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Remembering family dog who enriched lives

I grew up on a dairy farm that my parents owned near Salamanca. About 50 years ago, during the coldest and snowiest days that we could ever remember, a stray dog came around to our place. It was a half-starved collie with a belly swollen with a litter of puppies due at any time. Some heartless coward had dropped her off, with no concern for her future.

My father was not a sentimental man, but nevertheless took pity on the dog. We fed her and when her time was due, put a heating lamp out in the shed where she could give birth to her puppies. She gave birth to a litter of eight or nine. But she was so emaciated that Dad couldn't imagine how she could nurse all of the puppies without putting her own life in peril; nor could we afford to raise and keep that many dogs. So he put down all but one of the pups.

The collie grew in strength and, because of her gentle manners, was named Lady. She became a wonderful cow dog and very attached to my father. One of my favorite memories of her was of tugging on Dad's pant legs in the morning, eager to accompany him out to our pasture to round up the cows for milking. Dad was heart-broken several years later when she died in a farm accident.

Whenever I read about the problems of the SPCA in Niagara County and all the passions its operation has aroused, I think of Lady and how she enriched our lives. I just wish the passion could be directed toward improving its service and away from fixing blame for past actions. Let Barbara Carr investigate the sins of the past and if any were due to deliberate cruelty and not just bureaucratic ineptness, then let the laws of our land punish the guilty. Otherwise, let's move on to a better future.

Robert Scharf

Kenmore

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Mayor has no plan to resurrect Buffalo

The Buffalo Niagara Region received great news from the governor during his State of the State message -- $1 billion to help revive Buffalo's economy. You would expect that the mayor of Buffalo would want to tell everyone about his grand economic plans that he has been working on for the past six years. No, not this mayor. He refuses interview requests from the major newspaper in the area.

His spokesman implies that the administration has this covered, stating: "What do you think Brendan [Mehaffy] and the Office of Strategic Planning do?" Excellent question! I would hope they would be developing plans to proactively reverse the decline of the city. I would hope the action items would include steps to make the city less reliant on state and federal handouts and become self-sustaining. But as they say, actions speak louder than words.

The fact that the mayor and his administration would rather remain hidden away in their ivory tower instead of sharing their plans for resurrecting this city leads me to believe that this mayor has no plan! He has no vision for greatness. He has no desire to make this city prosperous. Why? Because he and his colleagues are not capable of doing so. They are career politicians who have never spent a day in the real world having to earn a living. All they know is how to accept handouts and squander opportunities.

Michael P. Ryan

East Aurora

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Save handicapped spots for those truly in need

I have been in many cities in my lifetime. One thing I believe Western New York has more of than any city I have ever witnessed is handicapped parking spaces. Which is wonderful! Thank goodness they are available for those with disabilities to be able to use as needed.

But as I have witnessed, we also have a record number of people using those spaces who are healthy and just too lazy to walk an extra 10 or 20 paces to park like the rest of us.

I have a 93-year-old mother-in-law, and to this day she tells me not to use that space for her. The next time you are out shopping or dining out, sit and watch the handicapped area and see who parks there.

My favorite is at the casinos. A car pulls up and the violator parks, lights a cigarette and runs into the casino. How these people live with themselves puzzles me. Oh yes, I get it, they don't care! The next time you see such abuse, call these drivers out, call a cop, but do something. By doing this you will be helping the real handicapped people.

Christopher M. Swan Sr.

Hamburg