Sch’dy pre-K needs sustained volunteer reading program
Re the April 6 editorial, Who will read to, with, Schenectady kids?: Significantly, it neither mentioned nor hinted at the need to deal with the large, mostly underfunded pre-K population in Schenectady.
With or without a volunteer reading program for children already enrolled in district schools, there will be a continuing need to promote reading among the pre-K kids destined to enter the district schools principally at the kindergarten level.
Unless that need is met, massively, there can be little hope that the district will be able to deal with the reading problem. Currently 6,000 students in all grades, nearly two-thirds of the district’s students, are reading below grade level; over time, many of them will likely fall further below grade level in a wide array of courses requiring them to be skilled readers. It’s not unrealistic to expect the number of such students to increase yearly.
Passing through adolescence and adulthood, those without a strong foundation in the written language will find themselves denied the joys and benefits of advanced formal education, wide career opportunities and broad cultural engagement.
It’s time to mount a continuing, massive, year-in, year-out volunteer reading program centered on the city’s 4-year-olds, with key roles played by parents, religious and other social organizations, educational institutions, and the business and arts sectors.
The writer is a professor emeritus of political science at the University at Albany.
Fracking, tar sands no way to go fossil-free
Ten years ago, we embarked on a $4 trillion war, destroying Iraq for its oil.
A March 23 letter [“No good reason to oppose Keystone Pipeline plan”] pushed Keystone XL tar sands exploitation. On March 31 an Opinion piece [“Fracking hardly the only source of river sediment”] again promoted hydrofracking. What do these have in common? They all push severe fossil-fuel extraction that permanently destroys lives, land, water and our very climate.
We are addicts who will do anything for one more fix. We are hitting bottom. Let’s admit our problem, our mistakes, and move down the road to recovery.
An independent Stanford study (Mark Jacobson, et al.) just documented how New York could become fossil-fuel free in 20 years, with a net gain from our investments.
We need to take the next step. We can do it. We have to do it. We need to do it ourselves. We need to push our politicians. And we need to redesign, divest from and/or decommission any pathological corporations that stand in our way.
Let’s be fossil fools no more. Let’s use less. Lets use clean, safe, peaceful renewables.
Omit private money in politics if public is used
The April 4 editorial [“Fair elections mean publicly financed”] shows the Gazette is again behind the times.
Please pay attention! Our governments, on every level, have been spending billions of dollars on campaign financing for decades.
The biggest sums are dished out by the federal government in several ways. Let’s start with Ben Bernanke, head of the Fed and the guy who gives financial institutions (yup, the ones we bailed out) unprecedented amounts in virtually interest-free loans. They loan that money to businesses and individuals and pocket the profit, except for the billions they — the businesses and the millionaires who run them — give to politicians in both parties.
Consider, also, how our representatives secure funding for selected businesses (Solara, General Motors) or educational institutions. The businesses and both management and labor (through the unions) also pour huge amounts into campaigns for public office. The teachers unions are among the biggest contributors to many campaigns.
On the local level, our towns and counties approve special benefits, and incentives, for businesses. These businesses return the favor by donating to the political campaigns of local officials. All this is recorded in the reports of the respective political campaigns, and no one seems to care. Then (heaven help us), when a politicians takes, or pays, a bribe and forgets to call it a campaign contribution, the Gazette acts like Henney Penny and the sky is falling.
All the matching fund concept will do is double the money the politicians get from the public. If public money is given to a campaign, it should be the only money the campaigns could use for a political campaign — no private donations allowed.
Can you imagine how pleasant watching the TV or sorting the mail might be next fall if businesses or individuals who accept (directly or indirectly) public money were prohibited from making donations to political campaigns?
Baseball coverage favors Yanks; Mets merit more
We’re only a week or so into the baseball season, and it is already painfully obvious that your paper’s “team of choice” for coverage once again is that insufferable team from the Bronx.
Yankees, Yankees, Yankees. Is that all you can think of? Every day there is a front-page story with quotes from New York players and that “genius” of a manager, plus the mandatory poster-sized color photo of “Fatbathia” or some other Yankee clown.
In case you forgot, there is another team in New York that deserves your attention. They wear blue and orange and reside in Queens. Myself, I’ve been cheering for the Mets for so long that I’ve lost my voice. Yet, the Gazette chooses to stick them inside somewhere, often with a bare score headline over their two-paragraph story.
Would it be too much to ask for something approaching balanced coverage for the New York baseball teams? As it is, your definite bias is showing. I’m sure I speak for many fellow Yankee-haters when I tell you, enough with the Yankees, already! Let’s have some equality in your baseball coverage.
Let’s go, Mets!
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