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How can any teacher teach an empty seat?

The New York State Education Department penalizes schools if their students do not show up to take the exams. The standard is 95 percent. If a school does not have 95 percent of its students take the exam, the school's scores that are used to judge the school are deemed unacceptable.

This year, the Buffalo Public School District has instituted measures aimed at improving student attendance. The district has classified each student based on his attendance rate into four categories: satisfactory, at-risk, chronic or severe. According to the district's classification, a student has satisfactory attendance if he has an attendance rate of 95 percent or higher. If the attendance rate is between 90 percent and 94 percent, the student is considered at-risk. Attendance rates between 80 percent and 89 percent are considered chronic, and students whose attendance rate is less than 80 percent are classified as severe.

If the State Education Department and the Buffalo School District want accountability, knowing that attendance counts in learning, why are they blaming teachers for the state not giving the money to the district? Every persistently lowest-achieving high school in Buffalo has a severe attendance rate below 80 percent, according to the latest report cards available through the Education Department website. How can a teacher teach an empty seat?

Jorge Koury

Lancaster

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Judge teachers only on students in class

The teachers of the Buffalo Public Schools have made the right decision. They should not be evaluated on students they are unable to teach because they are not in class. Anyone using the most rudimentary logic should conclude that one must be judged on teaching those pupils who are available to be taught. Judging teachers on absent students is like judging a quarterback on pass completions to receivers who are not in the game.

The problem lies with parents who do not ensure that their children attend school, to an administration that allocates too little resource on attendance teachers/personnel and to New York State bureaucracy. Any blame for lost funding should be directed to the proper sources -- not teachers.

George J. Cotroneo

Buffalo

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Changes needed in state and federal policies

To accept a cash flow into fallow institutions suffering from lack of purpose, incentive and productivity at the cost of immoral compromise is a travesty.

The editor chastises instructors for failure to accept evaluation statistics based on absenteeism! What difference if "it only accounts for 20 percent" of figures that will likely affect their own advancement, job security and motivation? Change in federal and state policies need include all participants in the educational process; parents and students.

Skewed statistics have masked real outcomes in performance as is evident in lower qualitative regulation across the board. The infusion of $9 million heralded as bait for change is simplistic at best. We need to add to support of institutions that proudly offer vocational preparation in conjunction with educational basics to provide a fair shake beyond a college expectation. Invest in tech training so that instructors can learn to utilize equipment that often lays dormant in a classroom corner. School and community programs for students without parental guidance need a contemporary plan for stimulating interest. These things can happen from within the structure of current programs were it not for obsessive concern with test scores. Essentially, there are problems visible at the root inhibiting growth, that are mired by a financial justification clause.

Suzann P. Denny

Buffalo

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Proposal would throw money down the drain

My brain was having a hard time grasping what my eyes were reading. I had thought that this stupidity had been laid to rest long ago. Now it rears its ugly head again! Spending at least $465 million to put a cover over 1.2 miles of the Kensington Expressway has got to be the biggest farce in Buffalo's history. Think of how many new houses could be built with that money.

I am old enough, at 73, to remember what that area once looked like because I lived close by. Those lines of trees were majestic; now they're but a sad, distant memory. But even if this ridiculous covering is built, any trees put in would take half a century to come close to what this area once was (if ever). This is nothing more than throwing money down the drain, something that the local politicians are so great at doing.

Think about this, you citizens of Buffalo. Do you want to see your hard-earned money being misused to such a drastic extent? I sure do not! Let's face the facts -- all taxpayers will be helping to pay for this absurdity. Rise up, all of you, and tell your elected officials that enough is enough!

Jim Germann

Tonawanda

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We cannot afford ridiculous project

Who doesn't love a park -- especially with tall, shady trees? Who doesn't hate the Kensington Expressway -- especially in the winter? Who thinks Antoine Thompson was just looking out for the citizens of Buffalo during his tenure as our state senator from Buffalo when he ponied up $2 million of our hard-earned dollars for an environmental impact study to "pave over" the top of the Kensington with green space and let the traffic flow underneath it? Why shouldn't we go after a "free" $465 million handout from our federal government (read: your pocketbook)?

Look on the bright side and grasp the potential, Buffalo. Perhaps all that luxurious new green space will be planted in fruit trees and your children can gather apples for their lunch boxes. Maybe the pastoral areas can be fenced where cattle will graze to help offset the 24 percent increase in the cost of beef. How about tranquil pools of yummy fish to stock your freezer? Oh, they could also use those pools to grow that blue-green algae our president wants to magically morph into fuel to heat your home and propel your vehicle.

What do these well-meaning civic committees with their hands in our pockets not understand about a nation going broke? Turn on your TV and see Greece burning and the dollar struggling. See China refusing to take our phone calls when we beg for another loan. Observe as our senators vote down the Keystone Pipeline so we can continue to depend on our "friends" at OPEC. Watch Obamacare bring us to our knees fiscally while simultaneously robbing us of the freedom to be responsible for ourselves.

Another park is way down the list of what we need and can afford. Say no to these folks before they casually help themselves to what's left in our children's piggy banks.

Lauren Millard

Clarence

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Put all three projects at former Aud site

I was excited to hear the news that the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. had received three proposals from operators wanting to locate a children's experience center at the former Memorial Auditorium site. My excitement was tempered somewhat upon further reading that the agency was to consider giving the green light in mid-April to develop a master plan to only one of the proposals.

All three proposals -- Explore and More, Great Lakes Experience and the Buffalo Fire Museum -- seem like great ideas for a major family-themed attraction to be built on the now vacant, shovel-ready property. My question is, why just pick one? There surely must be some way to incorporate all three proposals into a high-quality, major family destination that would not only attract local families but also become a must-see destination for tourists planning a trip to the Niagara Falls region.

One would think that a source of funding would be easier to obtain if we choose to find a way to umbrella all three proposals into one museum complex. Furthermore, other regional heritage-based exhibits could be incorporated into the complex in the future if the overall dynamic of the museum consisted of a broader theme. The complex could also be built in stages, which would fit into the "lighter, quicker, cheaper" concept that is now favored as the way to develop our waterfront. It seems to me that this kind of low-risk, high-reward attraction would be a welcome addition to our waterfront and far exceed the expectations of the now disastrous Bass Pro fiasco that was proposed for this site in the first place.

Charles J. Maley

West Seneca

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Buffalo Fire Museum would be perfect here

I was encouraged to see the front-page article in the March 10 News regarding waterfront development.

If I may cast my humble vote for one of the three proposals for a museum at the former Memorial Auditorium site, it would certainly be for the Buffalo Fire Museum. I have toured the current museum several times and I am always astonished at the information that is presented. It is very interesting and also very kid-friendly! What little boy or girl doesn't get a thrill out of firefighters and firetrucks?

The current museum is packed with local history as it relates to firefighting, and a new larger museum would easily capture not only the attention of a child but of the adult who brought the child.

Visitors would get an education on the history of the Buffalo Fire Department and Buffalo itself. What a perfect fit! My vote is for the Buffalo Fire Museum.

Andrea J. Mudd

Cheektowaga

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Some don't understand how insurance works

I'm so tired of hearing about how people on the right don't want to pay for someone's sex life! Do they not understand how insurance works? Everybody pays so everybody can get. You pay a premium every month for health insurance or every six months for car insurance. If I'm not sick or not in a car accident, I don't get money back (although some auto insurance now does this). In fact, my premium may even go up a few dollars upon renewal. Does that mean I'm paying for someone else's accidents? The money goes into a pool for everyone.

It's like taxes; we pay them, but we don't get to say what we want them used for. I don't want my taxes used to go to war. Do I get to withhold my contributions then? No. I don't have children. Do I then not have to pay school taxes? No. As for paying for birth control, whether it's used to prevent pregnancy or a hormonal issue or even a skin condition, it's a prescription given by a doctor to a patient who has this as a work benefit or a rider on the insurance that she pays for. It shouldn't be questioned or threatened by the right, the left, the pharmacist or any politician. Ever!

Grace Tomasulo

Buffalo