Categories: Letters to the Editor
Hillary can’t show single achievement
This is in regard to Gary P. Guido’s monthly anti-Republican diatribe on April 24 (“Republican hopefuls can’t match Hillary”) letting us all know that Hillary Clinton is his choice for president in the next election.
Besides attempting to discredit the Republicans in the running, he offers no reason to vote for Hillary except that she is, well, Hillary.
He says “Hillary is our champion.” Why? I’m not going to go over the myriad scandals, past and present, dogging her, though it seems every day brings a new allegation or possible misdeed to light.
Instead, I’m going to challenge anyone to come up with one accomplishment or piece of legislation that she can take credit for while serving as a New York state senator. Something that actually helped the people of our state. Just one. Good luck with that. Something besides just being a senator from New York.
Where are all the jobs she promised upstate? She has no accomplishments in this regard. Zero. None. All that New Yorkers were to her was a stepping stone for her resume and presidential aspirations. She couldn’t care less about us.
Now name just one accomplishment of Hillary’s as Secretary of State besides logging thousands of miles in air travel. Just one. Being a frequent flyer doesn’t count. When challenged with this question on a news program, the best a Hillary supporter could come up with was helping the country of Myanmar. Most folks don’t even know where that is (formally Burma).
In truth, her tenure was a disaster of foreign policy mistakes like the “Russian reset” and Benghazi. Again, zero accomplishments. None.
So I ask, why vote for her? Because she’s a woman? Before you call me sexist, I’ll declare a woman president is fine with me as long as it isn’t Hillary.
Marc A. Smalkin
State needs to listen to opt-out message
Bravo on your April 18 editorial, “After opt-out time to focus on solutions.” It is an indication that the press is finally getting what this is all about. It is not about teacher union pressure, but about a grassroots effort on behalf of fed-up parents who are exercising their right to choose what is best for their children.
Yes, the teachers’ union has been a factor, but they came late to the cause. Advocacy groups have been working for some time to get this “Great American Opt-Out,” as you called it, in motion. Not one of the parents that I know, who opted their children out, did so because of the teachers’ union. They did it because they see the detrimental effects of the testing on the educational system.
They see that the tests are flawed, developmentally inappropriate, and results are skewed to the extent that any scores produced are meaningless. They realize, that despite State Ed and the Regents proclaiming the benefits, in fact the tests do not produce any helpful information that does anything more than to rank and punish schools and teachers.
These same parents, in fact, are pleased with their local schools and their children’s teachers. Parents know their children and their abilities. They are well-informed by the schools on their child’s progress. They don’t need standardized testing to affirm anything. They are dismayed when test results indicate a previously achieving child has not scored satisfactorily on the tests.
All of this seems wrong to them, so they have spoken out in a meaningful way: opting out. Parents and teachers don’t deny the need for a form of testing that provides meaningful standardized information about students and constructive feedback to teachers. These tests do not do that.
I agree that it is time for State Ed, local educators and parents to sit down and work out some reasonable solution. Logical thinkers would have suggested that is where this process should have begun. It is now time for a national conversation and reconsideration of where education has been driven ever since No Child Left Behind. And if those conversations do occur, parents will have achieved their goal.
Threats of withholding funds should be put aside at all levels. Districts should not be penalized financially for the actions of concerned parents. Schools should not be punished with unwarranted labels. Hold off on evaluating teachers until after some solutions are worked out. Even if it takes a year or two, what’s the harm? Are public schools going to fall apart because the teachers will relax, thinking they won’t be accountable to state standards? Teachers I know don’t work that way.
The state acts like it can’t change what is in place. It says the evaluations of children, teachers and schools must occur as they stand or we won’t have valuable information. I say let there be a moratorium or an invalidation of all of this year’s results. They can hardly be reflective or representative of any true picture.
Over the years, Regents exams have been compromised, adjusted or deemed invalid for various reasons. The year I took the Physics Regents, 10 points were added to everyone’s score to compensate for the difficulty of the test. So it is not without precedent that the state can do whatever it wants to rectify this if it is willing.
But I fear the bullying will continue, despite the fact that it is clear that the results of the opting-out movement have had a serious impact on the validity of the standardized tests given this year.
History articles keep us grounded in reality
The April 12 Sunday edition of The Gazette carried a feature story about the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and its connection with the Capital Region, and in particular, Schenectady.
I found the story to be enlightening, historic and educational. Kudos to Bill Buell, the author of that fine piece. It was obvious that some serious research went into the creation of the story. I look forward to seeing more such pieces in The Gazette in months and years to come.
Also, I should mention that the retro pieces that Jeff Wilkin does from time to time are fascinating and nostalgic.
I am not suggesting that we should live in the past, but I think that remembering our past is important to keep our present and future generations grounded in reality.
We have a rich tradition in the Capital Region, and whenever The Gazette can shine a light on that, it’s always a good thing.
Albert P. Jurczynski
Niskayuna bus driver grateful to be back
Re April 22 article, “Niskayuna school district rehiring outsourced bus drivers”: I was pleased to receive a letter in April that asked me to return as a driver for the Niskayuna School District.
I strongly believe, as a parent and taxpayer, it is right for our district to regain control of staff who have direct daily contact with our children.
Niskayuna bus drivers are a vital workforce with many hours invested in training to safely transport public and nonpublic students alike. Our mandatory attendance at staff development meetings keeps us current on best-practice strategies. We observe custodial care protocol and must comply with the Dignity for All Students Act legislation.
Also importantly, we are expected to preserve the confidentiality of every student’s information (e.g. medical status, identified behavior support plans).
Additionally, we must adhere to the strict requirements necessary to maintain a New York state commercial driver’s license. A school bus driver’s CDL [commercial driver’s license] requires endorsements that certify us to not only operate certain classes of vehicles, but also to transport passengers.
We submit to random drug- and alcohol testing, yearly physicals, and ongoing written and practical examinations.
I thank everyone who believed in our value and ultimately facilitated our return. We take pride in practicing daily the excellence expected of a Niskayuna School District staff member.
Join me in welcoming back the Niskayuna bus drivers.
USMMA students share similarities
I enjoyed Michael Kelly’s article [“Coll a leading player on academy team as freshman”] in Your Clifton Park regarding Pat Coll and his accomplishments at Kings Point, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy [USMMA].
There were many similarities between my grandson, Patrick McGuinness, and Pat Coll. Both are freshmen, both participated in a varsity sport, (Patrick in cross-country), both have a brother who is graduating from West Point, (Thomas McGuinness, 2015), and both have a relative (Patrick’s grandfather and an uncle) who are USMMA grads.
Patrick is a 2014 Burnt Hills graduate and a star student at Kings Point.
Gerard F. Havasy