Test-driven education ?produces wrong results

The July 18 News article about persistently low-achieving schools failed to mention that 50 percent of the International School students come from non-English speaking homes. Despite the spin by State Education Commissioner John King Jr. and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, the test results statewide and in Buffalo reveal the bankruptcy of New York's test-driven educational policy, rather than a performance deficiency by public school teachers or students.

Over the last 10 years, hundreds of millions of dollars, endless hours of test preparation and much anguish has produced very little educationally. Money has been wasted on consultants writing reports and grant applications that result in very little going into classrooms or to enrich the experiences of poor children.

Let's get back to the teaching of subjects, not teaching to the tests. Let's support teachers in classrooms. There are many creative alternatives to the counterproductive, seriously flawed, so-called accountability model that New York State has pursued for the last 10 years.

Adeline Levine



Romney cannot deny ?involvement with Bain

In February 1999, Mitt Romney became head of the USA Olympics. In order to do so, we hear that he gave up day-to-day administration of Bain Capital. However, he did not resign from Bain at that time but, at best, took a leave of absence from the everyday management of the corporation. He was still, according to the Security and Exchange Commission, "… the sole shareholder, sole director, chief executive officer and president of Bain Capital, and thus is the controlling person of Bain Capital."

I have not seen many comments on a very important question. To what extent would a sole shareholder and director of a corporation allow the day-to-day management to drastically change direction while he is temporarily involved elsewhere? Whether or not Romney was involved with the everyday management of Bain Capital, he definitely approved of its policies from 1999 to 2001. This is true regardless of how much Romney tries to deny it.

Erwin Segal



Scientists must address? carps' back-door entry

Over the past two to three weeks, I have read Buffalo News articles highlighting the concern over the carp from the Mississippi River invading the Great Lakes and changing the Great Lakes ecosystem forever. A number of programs have been proposed, but none of these addresses the back-door entry via pet goldfish into rivers, ponds, marshes, swamps and lakes.

Goldfish were selected in China for their brilliant red color from carp many centuries ago. Carp are voracious eaters and some have suggested that they will eat anything that fits in their mouths. Goldfish have spread worldwide and can crossbreed with wild carp.

Many families, at one time or another, have owned pet goldfish that they released into nearby ponds, swamps or rivers when the goldfish got too big or the owners were no longer interested in them. This summer, I was standing on a bridge at the Great Baehre Swamp in Getzville watching some goldfish. I wondered how they got into the pond. Then I saw a troubling (as a collection of goldfish are called) collectively swim from above and below the pond water toward a school of other unknown (to me) fish, surrounding their prey and eating them. I saw this repeated on several occasions and was lucky to photograph it.

On a separate visit to the pond, I met another person and recounted what I had seen. She told me that her family had owned a goldfish and released it into the pond when it got too large.

There are now numerous goldfish that feed on native species and may eventually overtake them. This is the back-door entry of an invasive species mediated by humans. Closure of this back door requires education of all of us of the dangers of introducing invasive species into the wild and its impact on the delicate balance of the environment. Measures to keep the Mississippi River carp need to take this back-door entrance into account.

Jamson S. Lwebuga-Mukasa, M.D.



Liberals should be proud? of what they've achieved

I'm tired of reading what conservatives are whining about. Conservatives gave the rich every tax cut and every perk they could think of. They allowed Wall Street banks to sell bogus debt securities that sparked a world recession and left the incoming president wrestling with a trillion-dollar debt and a dead economy. A conservative court opened the floodgates of corporate money that threatens democracy itself.

I'm a liberal. Here's an honorable list of what liberals have done: the GI Bill, the space program, environmental laws, Endangered Species Act, the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Family and Medical Leave Act, Earned Income Tax Credit, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Americans With Disabilities Act.

Unemployment insurance, food stamps/WIC, Freedom of Information Act, allowing citizens to view their own credit records, women's right to control their own reproduction, the Civil Rights Movement, the Voting Rights Act, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, labor laws, food safety laws, Clean Water Act, Workplace Safety Laws, Lobbying Disclosure Act, public broadcasting and the Affordable Care Act. The list goes on and on.

Liberals have made mistakes, sure, but they have great reasons to be proud. To me, the words "liberal" and "progressive" spell progress.

Bob Catalano



Case exposes flaws? in our justice system

The recent "Killer goes free" headline in The News prompts this letter. The justice system, which appears to be plagued by dumb and dumber, was completely outsmarted by a convicted drug-taking killer. Maybe there wasn't enough money in this case for any of the lawyers to pay close attention to it.

The prosecutor guaranteed the killer to go free. He asked for the lesser charge. The judge abetted by allowing the lesser charge. The defense attorneys, esteemed as local lore alleges, fought the move that ultimately freed their client and point to malpractice in that they allowed their client to sit in jail for 17 months until he found the legal oversight.

Maybe the defense and prosecutor should have changed hats to coincide with their actions. The absurdity of this case demonstrates they all looked for the easy way out.

The ridiculous could move to the sublime if Tomaski sues his defense attorneys and wins for malpractice. Color me jaded and angry.

Thomas Pieczynski

Orchard Park