Farley should know: No school can do its job without adequate aid
Re Sen. Hugh Farley’s comments in Kathleen Moore’s Dec. 14 story on state aid received by the Schenectady school district: I would urge Sen. Farley to examine some facts.
As a now-retired school administrator, I worked with Sen. Farley over the past 35 years and found him to be a consistent friend and supporter of education. Pitting Schenectady against rural schools in his area, however, misses the heart of the matter. Problems in both areas are very real but different, with both coming down to limited availability of local resources.
The state ultimately has a constitutional responsibility to address this matter. Simply put, while lack of college prep classes may hinder students with college aspirations, such classes will be meaningless if students haven’t mastered reading skills necessary to succeed in them, or leave school before having the opportunity to sit in such classes.
While Sen. Farley may suggest that Schenectady schools themselves are responsible for the heavy tax burden imposed on city residents, Superintendent Laurence Spring is absolutely right in pointing to inequities in state support. These formulas, originally designed to especially assist communities like Schenectady, provide only 54 percent of what was originally designed, while other schools actually receive more than the formula amounts to which they are entitled.
The bottom line is that Schenectady must budget about $1,200 per pupil less than the rural schools with which Sen. Farley is justifiably concerned. The result from this lack of resources according to the 2012 State Report Card is that Schenectady graduates only 61 percent of its students while other schools in the senator’s district graduate 90 percent or more.
Of those who do graduate, 78 percent of Schenectady students earn a Regents diploma but only 14 percent earn the advanced Regents diploma preferred by colleges.
By contrast, as many as 95 percent of students graduating from schools in rural communities in Sen. Farley’s district receive a Regents diploma, with about 50 percent earning the more advanced degree.
The bottom line is this. Both rural and urban schools face fiscal challenges that prevent, or in the very near future, will prevent them from offering a constitutionally guaranteed “sound basic education.”
A recent study by the Columbia University-based Campaign for Educational Equity found that many schools similar to those in Sen. Farley’s district are now financially unable to offer a program required under Regents regulations in compliance with that constitutional guarantee.
If we care about our future, we, as parents, can bring these issues to the attention of the governor, but must also urge Sen. Farley to do likewise.
The writer is an executive administrator for the New York State PTA.
How much more gun carnage must we tolerate?
All should readily agree that the mass slaughters in Connecticut and elsewhere are intolerable and an embarrassment to a civilized society.
We need radical, not incremental change. I have a few suggestions:
1) There needs to be a clear distinction between firearms meant for hunting and assault weapons meant solely to kill people in large numbers.
2) Ammunition, not just weapons, needs to be controlled.
3) We should regulate possession, not just purchase or acquisition, of assault weapons and ammunition. In other words, if you are found in possession, you are subject to automatic stiff penalty, similar to illegal drugs.
4) Since there will always be unstable individuals in our midst, choose an antidote to the toxic profile. Apparently, public disgrace isn’t the answer, so try assured anonymity, i.e. 20-year-old male vs. the publicity of a name and photo in the media.
Certainly, all suggestions have problems; but it’s a place to start. We shouldn’t settle for less.
Consider that an air passenger tries to ignite a shoe bomb, and now all air passengers must remove their shoes, whereas many innocent victims have been shot in mass slayings and nothing changes.
People used to get publicity by jumping onto the field of play in televised sporting events. By simple agreement, the media no longer give them any coverage.
Every member of Congress should be inundated with a demand for change. The status quo is intolerable.
Thomas P. Herrmann
Turn Curry Road Plaza into baseball complex
Curry Road Plaza: I remember going to there when I was little kid, walking to Kmart, Price Chopper, Trustco, Hallmark, JJ Roman Villa, etc.
Now it’s nothing, and has been for many years! What I think should be done is donate it to Rotterdam Little League and build some ball fields for our youth! There’s plenty of land for three fields and a park. Plenty of green space for the seniors!
Build it, and they will come.