Chichester’s diatribe against teachers’ union was garbage
Normally I am very impressed with the quality and tone of the Viewpoint columns in The Sunday Gazette Opinion section. However, on Nov. 30 the Gazette printed one of the most ignorant, factually bankrupt pieces of journalistic garbage I’ve ever read, namely, “After years of no-plan spending, fat-cat teachers deserve cuts.” by Christopher Chichester.
Mr. Chichester formats his assault on the New York State United Teachers [NYSUT] in an open letter, stating proudly, “I am your reality check.” He then proceeds to spew a reckless diatribe of sophomoric, false, angry statements which are more delusional than realistic.
Now it’s your turn for a reality check, Mr. Chichester. Where are the “assistants to assistant principals, make-work teacher aides and patronage employees” you cite in your op-ed? It’s your fantasy — they simply do not exist. As for your statements that “Charter schools are your Apocalypse Now,” and parents are “flocking to charter schools throughout the Capital Region,” this is another flight of fancy. Have you even read a newspaper or watched the nightly news? Students are now “flocking” to Schenectady and Albany public schools, because the charter schools they had attended have folded.
You need to show me these “incompetent and criminal teachers” who are “nearly impossible to remove from the classroom.” Somehow I must have missed them completely during my 36 years of teaching in six schools and two school districts. Your description of NYSUT as “a job protection racket that celebrates mediocrity at the expense of high standards” simply confirms the depth of your ignorance. Do you have any facts whatsoever to back up this statement, or are facts optional in your version of “reality check?”
But, alas, there is more vitriol. Mr. Chichester asserts that NYSUT “represents adults, not children. Children are mere props.” This nonsense is akin to saying that the American Medical Association doesn’t care about the health of their patients, or the pilots’ union doesn’t care about the safety of their passengers. Looking out for the interests of your members and promoting the well-being of your clients are not mutually exclusive.
This reckless, hostile, unsubstantiated article would not pass muster in a middle school English class. To quote Chichester’s words, “you just got the truth handed to you. Deal with it.”
Tonko, Schumer should try to save Super Steel
The impending closure of the Super Steel plant [Dec. 2 Gazette] is a blow to our area which need not happen. Soon Congress will enact an economic stimulus package with focus on infrastructure improvements that could keep Super Steel active as a manufacturer.
In Oct. 29 testimony to Congress, Amtrak Chief Operating Officer William Crosbie said that 81 Amfleet coach cars are in storage, awaiting repair. Amtrak only has funds to fix 12 cars. Given the growing demand for intercity passenger rail travel, it would seem appropriate for Rep.-elect Tonko and Sen. Schumer to seek infrastructure funding for Super Steel to refurbish the stored Amtrak coach cars.
Restoration of these passenger cars would benefit the economy, the environment and the traveling public. I hope our elected officials fight for this needed federal funding.
Schuylerville residents should petition board
There has been a lot said about saving tax dollars by merging and even dissolving small governments. One particular article [Nov. 28] focused on the village of Schuylerville, where I live and own a home.
Our mayor [John Sherman] was quoted: “People mention some sort of merger all the time, but there hasn’t been a serious effort in years.” I think it’s time we made that effort, especially in these tough economic times.
The process is not easy. The first step involves a feasibility study, which is costly, but grant monies are available through the state Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness. Schuylerville’s board had a choice to move forward but chose not to. They voted to do nothing, so it’s a dead issue with them.
However, village residents can still make it happen by petitioning the board. If one-third or more of the registered voters sign a petition and present it to the board, by law, it must proceed with a study in a timely fashion.
The town of Saratoga can provide the services we now have. Think about it: “We are supporting two of everything” — planning, zoning, historians, public works crews, equipment, gas and maintenance, offices with clerks, deputy clerks, tax collectors and Web sites. Factor in insurance (liability, health, workers comp, retirement), with costs spiraling upward, and we’re weighed down with taxes.
Sewer, water and fire would become districts, and we would still have a voice in town government. We wouldn’t be in danger of losing our identity. We would still be Schuylervillians. Needless to say, I support dissolution and would be happy to sign a petition that moves us in that direction. It’s time for us to unify, simplify and save.
Implication that Bush didn’t read was unfair
Re Nov. 27 Chicago Sun Times guest editorial, “A reader in the White House”: The editorial asked, “Could you imagine anyone recommending with a straight face, that the current occupant of the Oval Office check out a little Thucydides? Or Dostoevsky?”
U.S. News and Work Report, on Aug. 17, 2006, published a sampling of books that President Bush had read so far that year: “Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar,” by Edvard Radzinsky; “American Prometheus,” by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin (a biography of Robert Oppenheimer, inventor of the atomic bomb); “Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero,” by David Maraniss (about the late Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder); “Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power,” by Richard Carwardine; “Lincoln’s Great Speech: The Second Inaugural,” by Ronald C. White Jr.; “Mao: The Unknown Story,” by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday; “Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women,” by Geraldine Brooks; “Polio: An American Story,” by David Oshinsky (discussing how polio affected the United States in the mid-20th century); “The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth,” by Leigh Montville; “The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History,” by John M. Barry; “Salt: A World History,” by Mark Kurlansky; and “The Stranger,” by Albert Camus.
Imagine if the president were “a man actually interested in ideas.”
Obama needs to stand back until Jan. 20
Regarding Mary Baker’s Dec. 1 opinion that it is a little early for anti-Obama cartoons, I ask her this: Isn’t it a little early for Mr. Obama to try to run this country? After all, she states that Obama has not even got into office yet. That is true. In fact, he will not take office for another month and a half (Jan. 20).
Believe it or not, people will find fault with Obama’s policies. He didn’t get 100 percent of the vote, so there’s some people out there that do disagree with him. Barack Obama promises “change” to help get this country back on track. Some of us don’t want to be part of his plan.
I ask this question, except for the attacks on 9/11, what was the problem in the country under the Bush administration, when the Republicans controlled Congress? The major problems we are facing as a country right now have been under a fully Democrat-controlled Congress.
If we need to wait for him to get into office before we “start picking on the guy,” then why doesn’t he just lie back for the next month-and-a-half and allow the country to run as it should — under the final days of the Bush administration?
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