Teacher evaluation is not an easy task

In the article, "Evaluations of teachers, risk of fund loss collide," the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the city indicated that some "tweaking" would correct their grant application. The article also mentioned that there exists a philosophical rift as well as opposition to the concept of linking teacher performance with student achievement.

Performance evaluation is not, by any means, an easy task. It requires that performance expectations are clear and accepted; it should run parallel to the values and norms (culture) of the organization; it should extend beyond behavioral observations and focus on measurable outcomes; it should exist as the link to rewards; and it should be fair and objective.

New York State has provided workshops and training for the design and implementation of performance evaluation systems that are based in student achievement. It would be fair to assume that Buffalo participated in these workshops and training. It is also fair to assume that performance evaluation is an HR activity lacking in municipal government and in public education. In both government and in public education, behavioral observations have trumped employee outcomes and seniority has overshadowed employee contributions and competence.

Is it any wonder that trying to create a process that ill fits the system's culture and current cornerstones of the employment relationship is a tall task that may require far more than simple "tweaking"?

Joseph F. Salamone



Time to disband Occupy Buffalo

During my trips into Buffalo, I have gone through Niagara Square in order to see how many of the Occupy Buffalo protesters are left and to witness how far the property has degenerated. On Jan. 15, I saw absolutely no one in the square, just the same worn-out, empty tents and weary protest signs stuck into the ground. This struck me as such a terrible waste and a complete double-standard because everyone knows this charade of a protest would have been dismantled long ago had it been affiliated with the tea party.

Now these self-righteous people who have to be the center of attention don't even see fit to wave the very signs they scrawled. Isn't this Occupy movement supposed to actually occupy something? Also, when someone makes a sign and plants it in the ground, it is usually called advertising, and to do so would normally cost the advertiser a fee of some sort, but not when Occupy Buffalo is concerned. Our mayor has been content to subsidize this nonsense, allowing property we all pay for with our taxes be used as a socialist platform.

Ray Wozniak



New leader needed for Greenway panel

Gov. Andrew Cuomo needs to focus his attention on the plight of the Niagara River Greenway Commission. Chairman Robert K. Kresse, who was appointed by Gov. George Pataki, is now two and a half years beyond his term's expiration.

Kresse's weak and indecisive leadership, evidenced in a failure to set goals or provide meaningful direction, sends mixed signals to the commission, resulting in the approval of projects that clearly do not fulfill the goals and objectives of the Niagara River Greenway plan. Conversely, he has opposed projects that clearly reflect the vision.

Funding for the Greenway's system of parks, trails and public access points along the length of the Niagara River needs to be spent wisely. In addition to the goals and objectives contained in the Greenway plan and underlying state legislation, the commission must develop a strategy to achieve these goals. An effective leader would work with commission members on the strategy and consequently measure performance based on that strategy, incorporating input from elected leaders and the public. This has not been happening. Cuomo should select a new chairman who has the vision, the will and the ability to do so.

On Aug. 8, 2011, Denise Jewell Gee of The News pointed out that there is a disconnect between the vision laid out in the Greenway plan and the power of the Greenway Standing Committees to spend money on projects. Even though the commission has no legal control over how Greenway funds are spent, it is nevertheless obligated to protect and advance the elements of the Greenway plan. The commission has been in existence since 2005 and, except for developing the plan, has done little to create an effective strategy that would achieve the plan's goals. Millions of dollars have been frittered away on projects that might have some merit, but do very little to create the continuous system of park, trails and access points linking communities along the river. To get back on track, we need a leader who will implement the plan as intended.

Dorothy Westhafer

Grand Island


Freedom of choice is worth celebrating

Sunday marks the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision that confirmed the constitutional right of women to choose to have a safe and legal abortion. Before Roe, thousands of women died in this country every year from dangerous "back-alley" abortions. They suffered painful, protracted deaths from hemorrhage, peritonitis and blood infection. Each of these women was someone's sister, daughter, niece or mother.

Thanks to that humane and enlightened court decision, women now reserve to themselves the decision to bring a child into the world. The 13-year-old who is a mere child herself, the college student years from attainment of her degree, the woman on the verge of professional advancement in her career, and the woman who has completed her family no longer need live in fear of an unwanted pregnancy that has the potential to turn their lives upside-down.

By this time next year, the federal government should establish a new holiday, Freedom of Choice Day, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Our accomplishments and hard-won victories on behalf of women and their families, in the best tradition of American struggles for justice and equality that emerged victorious in the face of sometimes violent opposition, should be honored by a national day of recognition and reflection.

James Hufnagel



Navy SEALs merit recognition in Time

What a joke! Time magazine chose "the protester" as its person of the year. What a terrible choice. The real persons should be the Navy SEALs. They accomplished what all Americans were hoping for. The protesters just want a free handout without earning it. Big business may not be perfect, but it sure keeps a lot of people working -- who want to work.

Tony Calandra