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Lots of opportunities provided by Girl Scouts

I am writing in response to the NeXt article titled, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," about Venture Scouting. It was a well-written article, except for the quote from the young lady who stated that "Girl Scouts doesn't count." As a 25-year member of Girl Scouts, I found this to be both offensive and incorrect.

Both of my daughters have been members of Venture Crew 93 and Girl Scouts throughout high school. My son is in Boy Scout Troop 93 and plans to join the Crew. I have served as a chaperone for the Crew and it offers excellent programs. My problem is not with Venture Scouts; it is with the implication that Girl Scouts has substandard programs.

I do not believe there are any opportunities found in either Boy Scouts or Ventures that you cannot find in Girl Scouts. There are programs for curling, canoeing, hiking, camping, travel opportunities, countless leadership opportunities and many more. The individual troops and girls choose the programs that they would like to participate in. Perhaps the young lady quoted did not know how to use the resources available to find a program that suited her.

I invite everyone to go to the Girl Scouts website (GSWNY.org) and check out the program guide. It is loaded with a wide variety of opportunities. You don't even need to be in a troop to participate in the activities.

Our middle and high school girls run most of our service unit programs. They are taught about promotion, bookkeeping, organization and implementation in order to be successful. They run camp programs, dances, bullying workshops, community service projects and much more. 2012 is the year of the girl as Girl Scouts celebrate its 100th anniversary. I challenge all girls to look for new and challenging experiences, step out of your box and have the time of your life!

Linda Zakrzewski

Clarence Girl Scout

Service Unit Manager

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Flap over contraception sidelines serious issues

Really! I assume that as a law student at Georgetown University, Sandra Fluke is capable of solving her contraception problem, clearly a private and personal matter, not fodder for a media circus.

Our elected officials, as well as the White House, can better serve their constituents by focusing on the economy, jobs, our huge national debt and escalating gas prices.

Elena Booth

Buffalo

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GOP is alienating many women voters

There should, no longer, be ambivalence on the part of women voters as to which party is humiliating them and which party is treating them as first-class citizens. Rush Limbaugh, the titular head of the GOP, has accused those on birth control of being "sluts" and said they should put videos online so that taxpayers could watch. Disgusting!

Ladies, how many "slaps in the face" are you willing to accept? Why is it always a "good ole boys club" deciding what's in your best interest? Why are Republican-controlled state legislatures and governors who, hypocritically, rail against government intrusion, forcing medically unnecessary ultrasounds on you by your coerced doctor, before you wish to legally terminate a pregnancy? Do these people think you're not smart enough to think for yourselves or has their party been so completely taken over by those who would force their religious beliefs on you and everyone else? The Blunt Amendment would deny medical coverage of anything, simply on the whim or "moral" belief of an employer. This would be the first step in dismantling the Affordable Care Act. Once women's health care is emasculated, they'll salivate at the notion of destroying Social Security and Medicare, all Democratic initiatives.

So ladies, protect your privacy and your civil rights. Don't permit intimidation or distortions of truth. Reasonable people will have to fight the good fight for women's health. Vote for the party that you perceive to be in your best interest. It should be obvious.

Leonard Gross

East Amherst

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Students must attend class in order to learn

As a teacher in Buffalo, I would give The News editorial, "All of the students matter," a poor grade. I take issue with its premise that "teacher evaluations shouldn't allow chronic absentees to be excluded."

If students are present in my classroom for considerable amount of instructional time, then it is fair to judge me on their performance. If they are not in school, how is it credible to tie my livelihood to their test scores? They have to be in school to learn.

It is commonplace to blame teachers for all the problems in education, but perhaps we should look at the parents who can't get their children into school, or the district, which is legally obligated to pursue students who are chronically absent.

The millions of dollars being withheld from Buffalo schools by New York State because our district promotes the idea that teacher evaluation should be based on students who attend school is unreasonable. Withholding millions from students punishes those students who attend school, teachers, the district and the community as a whole.

James Healy

Buffalo

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Birth control cartoon sends unkind message

I've been a fan of The News' editorial cartoons since the days of Bruce Shanks. The artists have maintained their cutting-edge humor and perspective right through Tom Toles and now Adam Zyglis. The March 7 Zyglis cartoon, however, is just too far out of line to dismiss without comment. The concept that a lack of birth control and self control is a major contributor to the welfare rolls is an idea that is devoid of common sense. When welfare recipients are blamed for their own misfortune, we treat their misfortune as their own fault. They should have been born someplace else or kept that job that the bankers canceled.

It seems that the myth of "welfare queens" and "disability chiselers" will never die, in spite of the statistics that show the exact opposite. Welfare and disability payments have steadily decreased over the past 20 years, but that doesn't get much notoriety when politicians want to preserve tax cuts for the wealthy by reducing humanitarian aid. Also unrecognized are the vast majority of unplanned babies that quickly grow into contributing adults through their own efforts and the help and sacrifices of their parents. Much room has to be made for the "unexpected" child who contributes "unexpectedly" great accomplishments.

The editorial cartoons are great lead-ins to the rest of The News' editorial offerings and can say much with few words. Restraint, however, must be used lest an oversimplification sends an unclear or unkind message.

George J. Denecke

Springville