ADVERTISEMENT

Multifaceted approach ?needed on school reform

The executive director of the New York State School Boards Association is correct we do elect the school boards. He is also correct about the statistics regarding degrees and experience of the members.

However, the elections of school boards are typically not at the time of our general elections, which does not encourage broad voter participation and best serves highest participation by special interest groups. The information upon which the boards generally act is prepared by interested parties: administrators and teachers.

Advanced degrees and broad professional experience do not automatically bestow upon the holders of the degrees wisdom and unbiased, disinterested judgment.

Our educational system is in crisis across America and in New York. We do not lead the world in scholastic achievement. The United States continues to slip in comparison to the world's leaders. Sadly, we also spend the most money per pupil around the globe for less than diminishing returns. We are actually losing ground.

Reform requires cessation of the incessant self-congratulatory messages we receive from current educational leadership. The solution is multifaceted including, but not limited to, responsible and sustainable financial planning; ability to remove ineffective teachers (our leadership has us believe all teachers are dedicated and perform well); and return to disciplined "reading, writing and arithmetic" by skilled, reinvigorated, educational professionals.

Many of us don't question the degrees and experience, but the results and our current path are not what we expect, and are not what our children and grandchildren deserve.

David Schiller

Williamsville

***

Anti-Obama sign?is way out of line

I went to my New World Dictionary and I found the word renege (to back out) but I definitely did not find "reniged." Either the elderly fellow in Aurora can't spell (a possibility) or he is just being plain mean. He is probably not breaking any laws other than typical town signage rules that even my church got into trouble over in Amherst a few years ago.

I admit I did not vote for George W. Bush, but I was in awe of Air Force One when he flew over my house once and I stood outside to watch it. I never put up signs "Bush vs. America" like the ones I saw with the name Obama instead. Right-wing talk radio and Fox News apparently will never give President Obama an inch, and I think signage such as reported on in The News is out of line.

Robert W. Snyder

Clarence Center

***

Efforts to restrict voting? attack our core principles

Throughout its history, the United States has expanded access to the vote, opting on several occasions to include a class of citizens previously denied this right. It is unfortunate that a recent letter advocates reversing that trend. The writer suggests disenfranchising the entire citizenry of Washington, D.C., along with any voter who does not achieve an unspecified mastery in civics.

To me, this is an affront to our system of representative democracy, in which all who are subject to the nation's laws have the right to participate in the selection of the individuals who make those laws. (Current exceptions include non-citizens, minors and the incarcerated; let's not add to this list). That's a chief reason why the recent Republican effort to limit voter participation is so offensive: It's not just a dirty political ploy; it's also an attack on the principle of government for, of, and by the people.

Chris Willett

Buffalo

***

It's sad to see Buffalo lose? antique bicycle collection

It should not happen, but on Saturday, the first of three auctions will take place of Clary and Carl Burgwardts' antique bicycle collection, and Buffalo will lose another segment of its remarkable history.

In 1900, Buffalo had 336 businesses employing thousands who were selling, repairing or outfitting bicycles. Bicyclists lobbied for paved roads, which resulted in more paved roads here than in any other city in the world. Two million ordinaires were sold by 1897, or one for every 30 people. In 1871, the Taylor Bros. of Orchard Park made the ordinaire or velocipede boneshaker with unequal size wheels, but by 1885, the wheels were of equal size, as we know the bike today.

Our Erie Canal Harbor would be a perfect location for a museum of the Burgwardts' collection. I hope that some person or corporation will come forward to prevent further diminution of our amazing heritage.

Penn R. Watson Sr.

East Aurora

***

Let cars park in street? when there is no snow

This missive is addressed to the-powers-that-be who run West Seneca. I understand that my humble township is involved in many issues, however, I fail to understand its enforcement of the dreaded parking ban, in effect from Nov. 15 through March 15.

Back when West Seneca was first incorporated into a township, many homes were built a la '60s style, with one- or one-and-a-half car garages, ranch homes and single-car driveways. Mom was a homemaker and Dad worked at his day job. One-car families with X amount of children. These families grew up and moved out, making way for second- and third-generation families to move in.

This is a lovely area, with wonderful management but extremely high taxes. Those of us who moved in during the second or third homeowner change did much to our houses. We expanded, we remodeled, we made our quality of life better in a nice community. However, not all of us expanded our driveways. For that digression, we will always be trapped in oh, how I hate to use this term a policed society from 1 a.m. until 7 a.m.

My husband and I are the second owners of the home that we love. We've been here since 1985. We fall into the above category. No place for the third car to go for the parking hiatus. The third car is here because of the return of our daughter with her two children.

My question is this: Why is the parking ban enforced when there is no snow? The whole point of it was to make sure the streets were clear for plowing. No snow. No plowing. Two years running now, tickets run rampant. At $15 per infraction, this is big money for the town. Maybe it's time to look elsewhere.

Julie Czosek

West Seneca