Yes, include special ed kids in regular classes, but for right reasons
As a longtime advocate for students with disabilities, and one of the early leaders in this country for including them in regular education classrooms, I was heartened to read [the Dec. 3 article] “District to Revise Special Ed Program.”
Having said that, I must express the hope that all of the necessary support students need to be successful in an inclusive environment be provided, that moving students from special education to regular education is not done to save money.
For example, Superintendent Laurence Spring mentioned that many students have come to rely on one-on-one aides. While that may be true, one has to look at why this is so. In my experience, I have found that these aides are assigned because of significant acting out by students and that without that support, the student would have to remain in a smaller environmen. Having this type of student is a regular classroom can be very disruptive.
I have often advocated that these students be provided much more in-depth emphasis by way of counseling by a social worker or psychologist, taking the focus off teaching subjects for a time, with more focus on the reasons why the student has the emotional problems that he or she exhibits.
I also am hopeful that a look will be taken at students who are sent out of the district — i.e. students with severe physical problems. These students are more often overlooked for including because most people feel that they need highly structured settings, where the concentration is on physical and speech therapy.
In my opinion, and that of many professionals in the field, these are the students who need inclusive settings more than anyone else. These students need to be surrounded by other students who are speaking normally as good role models, rather than only being with other students who are non-verbal. Whatever else they need, for example physical or occupational therapies, can be provided in a regular public school.
I have always said that there is nothing really special about special education that cannot be provided in a public school.
Marilyn R. Wessels
Local drivers still speeding, killing
I returned to the area today [Dec. 6] after a long absence and picked up a Gazette for a trip down memory lane.
Sadly, I found the front two sections dominated by tragic stories: two separate cases of young people in speeding vehicles killing other young people.
It’s been eight years since Josh Paniccia killed my old co-worker [GE scientist] David Ryan in the same manner [July 1, 2004 Gazette]. Nothing has changed.
This was hardly the nostalgia I was looking for.
In his Dec. 4 letter [“Why learn and work hard when you’ll still receive?”], Alan Buzanowski concludes that low test scores in Schenectady schools are the result of an Obama administration policy of redistributing wealth from those at the top to those at the bottom.
His position is that children as young as 5 years old have learned from their parents that success in school is not important, because, should you fail to succeed, President Obama, through his wealth distribution plan, will put all of us on the same footing.
It requires so many inaccuracies and false assumptions to reach this conclusion, that it is a challenge to know which to refute first. I would start by saying that this straight-line, cause-and-effect relationship between supposed income redistribution and low test scores, does not exist.
Mr. Buzanowski makes no mention of the childhood poverty rate, recently reported to be at around 50 percent in Schenectady. It seems very likely that wealth, or the lack of it, is a factor when it comes to test scores. And it is also clear that poverty predates any Obama policy regarding wealth redistribution.
To say that the issues at play here are complex falls woefully short of any realistic characterization. Considering this complexity, Mr. Buzanowski’s simplistic, black-and-white analysis does not provide us with even a starting point toward understanding and resolution.
‘Policy’ is reason Obama won and Romney lost
I keep reading different reasons why Romney lost the election — from the media’s coverage, Hurricane Sandy, voter turnout, gifts to the lower and middle classes, or [New Jersey] Gov. Christie.
Romney lost in the primaries when people learned that the policy of the GOP was going so far to the right. Jon Huntsman withdrew because he believed in global warming, evolution and that the Earth was billions of years old. He could not get GOP support.
How can a sitting president with an unemployment rate of 7.9 [percent] not only win, but win the Electoral College vote, 332-206? One word — “policy.”
He [Romney] lost the women’s vote because he would overturn Roe vs. Wade with Supreme Court nominations, would stop funding Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions, and would repeal Obamacare.
He lost the black vote for all the above reasons, plus the Republicans’ attempt to restrict the right to vote with new registration requirements. He also wanted to reduce or eliminate the safety nets for people living in poverty. That $10,000 bet he wanted to make [during the primary debates] was over half a year’s salary for someone working for minimum wages, or the 47 percent that didn’t pay taxes.
He lost the Hispanic vote for his idea that the illegal Hispanics would self-deport if they couldn’t get jobs. He was also against the Dream Act.
He lost because he said [the] auto industry should go bankrupt. He lost because he wanted to do away with the Environmental Protection Agency and government restrictions on Wall Street, and give the wealthy more tax relief.
He lost because he wanted to privatize Social Security, make Medicare a vocher program, eliminate the Department of Education and privative FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency].
The GOP policies would take us back to the ’50s. Romney lost because his policies would hurt the poor and middle class while only helping the top 2 percent. He lost because of GOP “policies.”
John P. Baim
Movies with smoking should be rated ‘R’
This holiday season will bring many new movies to theaters, and teens and tweens on holiday recess from school will fill the seats. Over 30 new movies are expected to open between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.
You may think the film ratings are intended to protect your children from content and images that are not age-appropriate, but those ratings fail to protect your children from seeing their favorite celebrities smoking, even in G-rated movies. Portrayals of smoking in movies promote rebellion, independence, sexiness, wealth, power and celebration. Rarely do movies depict the realities of smoking — characters suffering from smoke-related diseases and the effects of secondhand smoke.
A new study by the Legacy Foundation found that youth-rated movies (G, PG, PG-13) featured more smoking than the year before. According to the same study, youth-rated movies accounted for 68 percent of all tobacco impressions delivered to theater audiences in 2011. All this on-screen smoking strongly influences our children to start.
The bottom line is that action needs to be taken now! We must protect our children from influences that cause smoking. Contact the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) at ContactUs@mpaa.org and tell them movies with smoking require an R rating or contact your local Reality Check chapter at www.realitycheckofny.com.
The writer is the program coordinator for Reality Check of Catholic Charities of Fulton & Montgomery Counties.
Pictures of mangled cars serve a purpose
I could certainly sympathize with Carol Ramundo’s Dec. 7 letter in the Gazette about survivors of car accidents not wanting to see a picture of the mangled cars that took their loved ones.
However, I disagree with her comment that these pictures do not prevent more [of] such accidents from happening. When I was younger, I had to take a driver safety class because I was driving Norfolk, Va., city cars. They showed us a movie with many serious and fatal accidents and it made a lasting impression on me to drive safely.
Pictures are worth a thousand words. How many have not started or given up smoking as a result of pictures of smokers’ lungs, or the lifestyle they could eventually have?
Meanwhile, my praises to the students in the Shenendehowa school system who organized by themselves a service that over 10,000 students attended for the students who recently died.
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