‘Dedicated’ driver who crashed should be held accountable

Monday, October 8, 2012
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‘Dedicated’ driver who crashed should be held accountable

You ran a brief story in the Sept. 26 Gazette [“Pre-school crash doesn’t deter teen”] about a young driver who had a one-car accident southbound on Route 50 in Glenville at approximately 8 a.m. the previous day.

Fortunately, the driver was not injured nor was anyone else. He admitted to inattention at the wheel as the cause. He was not ticketed by Glenville police, as there was no evidence of cellphone use, texting, or substance abuse. Shortly afterward another person picked him up and drove him to his class at Schenectady County Community College. The article’s author described the driver as “dedicated,” apparently for his perseverance at getting to class.

I drove past the site shortly after the accident. The car was mangled in the ditch, having hit a power pole with enough force to break it clean off in the middle, leaving the wires to hold the pole above the car. A flatbed truck was waiting to remove the car. At least four National Grid trucks were onsite waiting to replace the pole and re-hang the wires. Two Glenville police cruisers were onsite. Traffic was reduced to one lane at a time around the accident. Returning home after the noon hour, I found traffic was still backed up all the way down to Thomas Corners while National Grid completed their work.

So our “dedicated” student went to his class leaving behind the deployment of considerable municipal and corporate assets and an hours-long traffic snarl on the main route through Glenville. Good for him, I guess. But it seems to me there should be some accountability here even if he broke no laws. Anybody else share that view?

Phil Arony


Tobacco industry targets poor as ‘replacements’

It seems that it is only common sense to assume that low-income smokers in New York state are paying a higher percentage of their income on cigarettes. The tobacco industry is well aware that the best place to find replacement smokers is in geographic areas where income and educational levels are lower and does all it can to perpetuate the cycle of tobacco use.

Take a drive through Schenectady County to see for yourself. An overwhelming majority of the licensed tobacco retailers in the county are located in the city of Schenectady — not in nearby Niskayuna, Scotia or Glenville. Marketing in the form of displays is prominently positioned by the cash registers in stores and pharmacies located less than a mile away from Schenectady city schools, where children buy their afterschool drinks and snacks.

We know that 90 percent of all smokers begin before their 18th birthday. Wouldn’t the best way to ensure that people do not spend a disproportionate amount of their income on cigarettes — and in turn, New York state on tobacco-related illnesses — be to do all we can so that they will never start?

Laura Waterhouse


Music teacher should teach music, not morals

Many in the Rotterdam community may not know the name Sean Lowery, the director of the Schalmont High School Band and Wind Ensemble. However, those who do know him either adore him or despise him for his controversial way of running a rehearsal.

For those who do not know, Sean insists nearly every class on either reading from a book on “moral lessons” or speaking his mind about his feelings on a particular subject and relating it to how we must live moral lives.

He believes his job above teaching music is to inspire his children to act with integrity. He is wrong. His job is to educate students musically by demanding a high expectation of practice and participation. How is this supposed to happen when between 10 and 20 minutes out of a 40-minute class are lost on “moral lessons?”

Music teachers in the Schalmont school district complain about the music program being cut, while Sean is only spending half of his class working on actual music!

Perhaps the reason why the music program is being cut is the fact that they are not improving. To top this all off, Sean Lowery is one of the highest-paid teachers in the district, making nearly $96,000 — $96,000 to voice his opinion to his students instead of teaching music.

Ultimately, Sean Lowery is making too much money and not fulfilling his job requirements as the high school band director, and the school district needs to do something about this.

Hayden LaBelle


The writer is a 2012 Schalmont graduate.

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October 8, 2012
6:52 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Hayden LaBelle,

To you it may be just an opinion, to someone else it might be the words that change a path. I'm sorry that you are probably 18 years old and forced to listen to someone speak about morals, I'm sure at your age you know it all. I must thank you for you're letter though it gave me hope that their were still teachers that had moral values in a public school.

October 8, 2012
7:40 a.m.
rjk1915 says...

I'm not 18 years old, I'm 97, but I agree with LaBelle.

October 8, 2012
7:47 a.m.
newyorker65 says...

To Hayden LaBelle... very nice letter pointing out some inadequacies in the public school system. As wmarincic pointed out, there is hope that there are still teachers who have moral values... however, it is absolutely NOT up to teachers to force their viewpoints, be it good moral values, or anything else, onto their students. Their sole purpose is to TEACH, nothing more, nothing less. If time is wasted teachers pontificating their point of view on ANY subject other than the one they are paid to teach, their director and/or superintendent need to be made aware of the problem. Shame on Shalmont for overlooking this important issue. Good for you Hayden to point out one of the many problems in our public school system. No wonder it doesn't work anymore!

October 8, 2012
10:32 a.m.
seawitch1313 says...

Laura Waterhouse...
Your letter might make a better point if you were an informed source. There are 3 smoke shops in Glenville, 1 in Niskayuna, and a few in Rotterdam, Thats not counting the # of stores, in affluent/other neighborhoods that carry a large inventory of smoking materials. Smoking is NOT just targeted or restricted to the poor. You and everyone else refuse to accept it, but kids are going to try/smoke something unfortunately. I am a smoker for many years and yes, I wish I hadnt started.

October 8, 2012
7:48 p.m.
robbump says...

To Hayden LaBelle...

oh, the things I would not know today if each of my teachers had stuck to "just his subject".

I'm a 60+ y/o student (again!) taking courses at SCCC. Even though I'm often twice the age of my teachers, I still address or refer to each as "Mr.", "Mrs", "Ms", or "Professor", and never by first name, as you did when writing about Mr. Sean Lowery. Somewhere some of my teachers must have gone "off-subject" and discussed morals, or manners, instead of math, science, or English. I don't WANT teachers to "work-to-rule"! Each person we meet have experiences and opinions we can learn from, whether we agree with their position or not.

It'srefer to as "a well rounded education".

October 9, 2012
5:36 p.m.
dandarling32103 says...

@robbump well put

@hayden - We live in a day where everyone has to be careful of what's said or else they might offend everyone. Well, as long as Sean Lowery is not preaching from a specific set of religious perspectives, he should not be causing great offense. That being said, you and everyone else who rebukes this type of teaching is overly sensitive. I don't know why you would be upset at his sharing anecdotes and other positive messages like teamwork, being a better person, hard work ethic. Where is he wrong there? I have had to sit through social studies classes which are a completely subjective summation of the history of nations and of the world. I have had to sit through science class, each with their own take on creation and evolution. That is more preaching and offensive to me. When I get papers marked poorly because I didn't just regurgitate what the teacher said and I had an opposing view, that is wrong and that is what a school needs to address. They didn't with me.. My main point ultimately is that music, especially group music, is about cooperation and working as a unit, it's about putting in hard work, and it's about giving everything you have to a greater goal so that others may benefit from listening to a concert. The performers also receive their own benefit and improved skills from regular concerts. So teaching simply about notes on a page... useless without the other stuff. Music is inspired to people when they compose it and therefore the people recreating that music should be inspired and try to emulate that inspiration. You have missed the point of music altogether. And I'm guessing there's something personal here too.

October 11, 2012
2:04 p.m.
robbump says...

"dandarling32103" - you brought up good points too. I re-read Mr. LaBelle's letter and didn't see where Mr. Lowery was advocating any given religion - if he was, I would have agreed with the writer.

Mr. LaBelle is old enough to vote, and could have attended board of education meetings all along. Will he present his views to the board?

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