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Cuomo’s dad learned paying teachers more won’t work

Sunday, January 20, 2013
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Cuomo’s dad learned paying teachers more won’t work

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his Jan. 9 State of the State address, said that excellent teachers should be paid more (up to $15,000 per year) and that they should be used to mentor new teachers. No argument here! Excellence should always be rewarded, encouraged and used as a model for others in the field.

But I have news for the self-appointed advocate for New York state’s schoolchildren: It will not work! He should know because [his father], Gov. Mario Cuomo, tried this in 1986, and the program went down in flames.

As reported in The New York Times on April 9, 1991, “Gov. Mario M. Cuomo is pressing to eliminate a program he helped enact five years ago to bolster the quality and prestige of teachers by supplementing their salaries.

“The program, known as ‘Excellence in Teaching,’ provided state funds to supplement salary levels, especially for starting teachers, above those negotiated in regular collective bargaining.

“It was proposed by Mr. Cuomo in 1986, an election year, and approved by the state Legislature with the strong backing of the teachers’ unions. The program was opposed by local school boards that wanted authority over whether to spend the state aid on teachers’ salaries or pencils or computers.

“Last year, Excellence in Teaching funneled $162 million into teacher salaries. But with the state facing a $6 billion budget gap, the governor has proposed cutting it, and legislative aides say the Legislature may not be able to save it.”

That’s right, Cuomo II is proposing a program similar to the one that failed Cuomo I only one generation ago. New York spent $162 million for teacher salaries and it did not improve a thing, and now he wants to do it again? The funny thing is that Cuomo II and his followers think it will work this time because he is proposing it. Well, it ain’t gonna happen.

We need to stop throwing money at education where it is not needed. Teacher improvement is not about money and it is not about “bar exams” and it is not about trying to embarrass teachers with test scores printed in the local media.

Teachers can tell you what they need to improve and they will do it for free. Maybe the governor and his supporters should visit a few schools and ask about teacher improvement — and stop telling them what they need.

John Metallo

Slingerlands

The writer is a retired teacher and administrator.

Stop treating students as if they’re all the same

In your Jan. 14 article, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that American students have fallen behind the rest of the world. We don’t need a longer school day or more teacher training. We need to go back to the way it used to be.

I’m a retired teacher, and when I started our students were tracked by ability. If these students are all truly equal, then tell me why when companies have a job opening, they interview their applicants in order to select the best one?

If they’re all equal, why not just hire the first one in? Also, why do teams have tryouts and make cuts? Where’s the equality there? You mean we can realize students differ athletically, but not [academically]?

Students elsewhere take the same curriculum but they’re tested at age 12, and those who fail are done with their education. The remaining students are tested again at 14 to determine their future training, and once again at 18, to determine which colleges they will be allowed to enroll in. I realize we can’t do that here, ergo the tracking process.

Also, if a student’s behavior affected his fellow students, he or she was suspended. Suspension was a call home, and not the process it is today. We have psychologists who have continually given students a reason not to perform. Without going into detail, just call your school psychologist and ask him or her how a 504 classification forgives someone’s behavior.

Once we realize that education is a privilege, and not a right, everything will take care of itself.

Pete Pidgeon

Scotia

Guns are OK, but they must be ‘well-regulated’

The Second Amendment clearly states the need for a well-regulated militia. There is history that a right to bear arms comes from a duty to bear arms, to protect our government and country in times of need. Along with this duty or right is the need to be well-regulated.

We have elevated the last part of the amendment and ignored the first part. We should require all Americans who bear arms to register with the militia and be regulated, as the amendment clearly states.

Thank you, New York state Legislature and Gov. Cuomo, for some common sense regulation, and shame on opportunistic legislators who are more interested in scoring political points than protecting children and constituents.

Vincent Pelliccia

Saratoga Springs

Don’t repeat mistake made with Prohibition

Do we too soon forget the lessons of the past?

Just before the Volstead Act was enacted in 1919, there was a run on all alcohol products. Stores were cleaned out of legal alcohol before Prohibition arrived. Back then, the lack of solid popular consensus resulted in vast criminal organizations being formed.

The results were the widespread disregard of the law. This generated rampant corruption of politicians and police forces. Demon rum just had to be eliminated! Alcohol was pure evil!

Alcohol today is perfectly legal and taxed. But, believe you me, even now it is pure evil when misused. God, what a mess the quick fix of Prohibition produced!

A similar, little-known and under-reported problem is happening right now in Canada, where plain, honest Canadian citizens are disregarding firearms laws. Police and politicians are looking the other way because it is just too hard to enforce. What are the police to do? Arrest a large percentage of the population? (This is also certainly happening in other countries, Britain, Australia and just about anyplace else where Draconian firearms laws are introduced.)

I think making honest citizens into lawbreakers would create a mess similar to the mess that was created in the 1920s and 1930s. I pray not.

Leonard Muller

Greenfield Center

Not all MVP’s rate hikes were modest last year

Your Jan. 12 editorial [“New York gets a handle on health care costs”] regarding last year’s health care costs, has me somewhat confused.

You stated the rate hike requests by insurers were trimmed from 12.4 percent to 7.5 percent, and small group plans were scaled back from the requested 15.7 percent to an average of 9.5 percent.

My wife and I each have an MVP Medicare Advantage Plan, which we obtained in 2011. At the time, our premiums were $114.40 each per month. In 2012, that premium increased to $138.40 each, and in 2013 increased again to $192 each.

According to my calculations, our increases were 21 percent for 2012 and 39 percent for 2013. This is quite a difference from the percentages in the editorial.

Peter Marcucia

Amsterdam

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comments

January 20, 2013
8:04 a.m.
gina99 says...

Peter Marucia-President Obama's health care "reform" according to him will lower rates and provide more coverage. And you can keep the same provider if your employer didn't drop your coverage. The problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people's money.

January 20, 2013
3:45 p.m.
ronzo says...

Peter Marcucia: Maybe it would help if you shopped around. My wife and I have to purchase an individual health plan because we do not have one provided to us by an employer or government. However, our monthly premium in 2013 for the same health plan we had in 2012 was lowered $103 per month - about an 8% reduction. Plus our per person deductible for this year was reduced by $2000, to $4000 per person for the year. Last year the per person deductible was $6000 per person for the year. The health plan's representative told me this rate reduction was due to the preliminary affects of the Affordable Care Act. Must be that they've figured out a way to keep their profits and still reduce the cost to their clients, because it would surprise me if they are selling at a loss. So the ACA is so far working for people like me.

January 21, 2013
12:14 p.m.
albright1 says...

Ronzo, you should provide more details about your plan. I would guess that you are the only couple in NYS whose rates were reduced for an identical prior year plan. It is more likely that your benefits have been dramatically reduced or you were were being overcharged in the previous year.

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