For their own health, send kids out to play
I feel very strongly that there is not enough being done to bring our children up to live a good, healthy life. Even with warm temperatures, the only time you see the children is getting on the school bus in the morning, then getting off the bus when they come home.
This shut-in society is robbing kids of social development and contributing to obesity. Our children are not used to one-on-one social interaction. Teenagers and young children today are addicted to smartphones, similar digital devices, videos and computer games — technology that was in its infancy when most of their parents were growing up. The draw of these goes even beyond being glued to the TV and the Internet.
Due to the fact that there are more working mothers, plus the worry about safety, the children are not developing immune systems playing outside.
If this matter is not addressed soon, I feel that our children will be facing big problems later.
Walter “Neal” Brazell
AIDS letter writer is living in dark ages
When reading the letters page, I am often amused by the cartoonish, stone-age opinions of the rather appropriately named Fred Barney.
Today [May 7], however, he dares to insult some of those who died during the AIDS epidemic (“What they have died from are the consequences of their choice to ignore traditional religious views on the proper use of human sexuality … ”), as if being gay were simply a choice, or perhaps — if he understands that it is not — that gay people should deny themselves of sexual intercourse.
Lucky for him, the Bible does not condemn the ignorant to the death he is so quick to condemn others to.
McFarland, Young, Ryan in Mohanasen
This letter is in response to Dom Cafarelli’s May 7 letter. As president of the Mohonasen Board of Education, he is correct in recognizing the serious issues facing public schools, but he misses the mark in his interpretation of the response of hundreds of families at Mohonasen. Although the letter is titled, “Set politics aside and solve education crisis,” the tone of the letter certainly seems political.
He implies that teachers, influenced by the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) union, are using students as pawns in a game of politics. This is false, as well as preposterous. School board members pledge to advocate for students, yet when bullied and force-fed the damaging educational agenda of the governor, Mr. Cafarelli mistakenly claims that teachers “mobilize” parents to push a political agenda. Parents at Mohonasen did not opt-out of state tests to “please teachers.”
Parents have the right under the 14th Amendment to choose what is best for their children. Hundreds of thousands of parents across the United States and New York are refusing state tests because parents understand that teachers’ working conditions are the students’ learning environment. That environment has been ravaged by the inept policies of corrupt politicians, and the public has had enough. Nothing is more democratic or speaks more clearly than the approximately 700 families opting their children out of the “flawed and excessive educational testing” referenced by Mr. Cafarelli.
Mr. Cafarelli states that all stakeholders must join to work on solutions and the need to establish an environment free of fear, stress and frustration. For these very reasons, the Mohonasen Teachers’ Association is endorsing Chad McFarland, Pamela Young and Pat Ryan as candidates for the Board of Education. All three possess the skills, talents and passion necessary to foster a climate of collaboration and are committed to being a mouthpiece for the parents, teachers and most importantly our students.
Put agendas and politics aside and support positive change. Vote for Chad McFarland, Pamela Young and Pat Ryan on Tuesday, May 19.
Maria S. Pacheco
Constantine wore uniform with honor
A short while ago, I was at the funeral home in Schenectady where Tom Constantine was being waked. I greeted his wife, Ruth, and his kids. I saw him laid out in his trademark tie and that silver 1950s ID bracelet his wife gave him decades ago.
The staph infection that overwhelmed him certainly took its toll. Tall and handsome state troopers stood watch in the uniform he wore with such distinction.
I thought of my favorite Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, who died himself a few weeks ago. He wrote a memorable poem called, “Efter Någons Död” or in English, “After a Death,” soon after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
It ends thus:
Samurajen ser obetydlig ut
bredvid sin rustning av svarta drakfjäll.
(The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.)
Here is Tranströmer reading it with Robert Bly’s English translation www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/after-death.
The writer is an attorney and director of The Constantine Institute, which promotes professional, legal and ethical standards in law enforcement.
Freddie Gray’s death a call to take action
People will say that recent events involving police and their questionable use of power against minorities has a long, tangled history in our country. Many books have been written on this subject. My brief letter to the editor is meant to simply add to our national conversation.
My heart is broken. I hang my head in sorrow. No human being, no animal, no creature should ever have to endure the treatment that some Baltimore policemen gave Freddie Gray. Now I ask with my soul in pain, are we as a nation sufficiently upset to sustain a national demand for change?
Nationally, our police force system is infected with racism, and this disease should be seen as a serious emergency. If all we do is whine and wring our hands in frustration, then we will be guilty — guilty of supporting with our tax money nothing less than unions of militarized gangs. Collectively, they are doing society’s “dirty work.” Certainly they are not a civilized professional force trained and equipped to protect everyone — black, white and polka-dot — from criminals.
I admit my trust in the police I see has been undermined. It is hard to trust members of this profession after all I’ve seen and read about what happened in Baltimore.
Now is the time to decide: Do we want to make determined actions of correction/reform, or do we procrastinate with all our hosts of commissions until another crisis distracts us? After all, we’ve lived with this racism, and some would say we’ve had a symbiotic relationship with it, for hundreds of years.
What I think the Baltimore event shows us is that the police system in our nation is hemorrhaging and in some places it is broken. Unfortunately, Freddie Gray had to die before we Americans understand now the full magnitude of the disease.
As the French people say: “We are all Freddie Grays.”
Margaret M. Watrous
Cuomo’s inaction on oil trains inexcusable
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s actions may seem confusing, unless you remember he may become a presidential candidate.
He banned hydrofracking, appeasing the environmentalists. However, he has taken limited action against Bakken crude oil trains, appeasing the oil industry. The consummate politician.
If he doesn’t win the party nomination, he would still have an excellent chance at becoming a cabinet member. If so, where does that leave the thousands of New Yorkers in the half-mile blast zone of the railways? In the same position as our mayors and legislators asking for his assistance: left behind.
Local problems fade away when there are national aspirations. This is a mistake. These trains pose a danger to everyone living or working near a railroad.
“Suggestions” to the American Petroleum Institute and rail inspections are token gestures. If the Bakken crude oil trains become a political issue, he, too, would be left behind. His record of waiting for Congress to act is both laughable and dangerous.
Only a court battle can stop disaster. Past political victories will mean nothing if his inaction results in an explosive derailment. Each train raises the odds, but the governor only dreams of Washington’s possibilities.
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