Assembly should pass parochial school tax credit
The March 23 editorial,“Tax credit threat to mainstream public schools,” does a disservice to readers for two reasons: 1) it makes a false statement, and 2) it fails to state a powerful counterargument.
First, the false statement, “It would also cost the state a bundle.” Tax credits would actually save New York taxpayers billions — here’s why.
New York state spends roughly $18,000 per student per year on public education, whereas the cost at a parochial school is about $5,000. If the state were to provide a tax credit for the full cost at a parochial school, the state would save $13,000 for every student that leaves the public system.
Let’s do the math. New York has 3.2 million k-12 students, of which 216,000 currently attend parochial schools. Raising parochial enrollment back to the level it was in 1960, moves 480,000 students out of the public system. The state saves $6.24 billion because of the students that move, and loses $1.08 billion in tax revenue because of those already enrolled in the parochial schools — net savings for the state, $5.16 billion. The state saves a bundle!
Second, the counterargument. Public education is a virtual monopoly. Almost one-quarter of students do not graduate high school. The United States places average or below in math, reading and science among the countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). No country spends more per student than the United States, and New York spends more than any state.
In 1960, 12 percent of all U.S. students were educated in parochial schools. SAT scores and graduation rates were higher than today, and the cost to educate a student in the public system was $471 per year. Parents had a viable and financially feasible choice as to where their children were educated. Competition for students kept school performance high and costs low. A tax credit would return that option to parents, in effect improving overall education efficacy.
The Senate has passed a bill providing such a credit, and the Assembly should pass it as well.
Guidelines for a casino in Schenectady
In response to Sara Foss’ March 16 column, a casino resort could be the right fit for downtown Schenectady if its site planning and architectural design reinforced existing downtown dining and entertainment businesses. That it not be an isolated casino entered via a parking garage but a pedestrian-friendly facility carefully integrated into the surrounding streetscape.
To do so, first I think it would be best for the Galesi Group in their proposal to actually separate the physical location of the casino from the hotel complex on their riverside ALCO site in favor of the site of the former Olender mattress store on State Street.
As for design, the casino, like Proctors, should have a grand entrance on the street opening into a shopping arcade. Above the first level you would have one or two gaming floors and at the top a penthouse bar and lounge. Onsite dining options would be limited to a buffet and lounge fare.
It could have a “Jazz Age” theme, with an Art Deco façade and perhaps interior design reminiscent of the expressionist sets of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film “Metropolis.” It would be like going back to the Roaring Twenties.
Like Proctors, it would be another anchor and catalyst for economic growth by generating heavy foot traffic pass the front doors of downtown properties. Easily accessible to the street, visitors could walk in and out, free to patronize the other neighboring night-life businesses. As part of a night out on the town, people could dine at a fine restaurant, see a Proctors show, and then end by spending a few hours at the casino.
Also a casino-resort proposal should, I believe, include funding for the construction of a new industrial heritage museum housing both the Edison Tech Center and the ALCO Historical and Technical Society, both of which, if given the same money and attention that miSci is now receiving, could become first-rate tourist attractions in their own right.
I still personally support the Saratoga Casino and Raceway getting table gaming. Yet, if another casino is to be built elsewhere in the Capital Region, I couldn’t think of a better spot than the Electric City, providing that, like Proctors, it was fully integrated into the existing urban fabric.
Benjamin J. Turon
Public dollars don’t mean fair elections
A March 26 letter was published that called upon Sen. Hugh Farley to back fair elections. Of course, everyone stands for “fair” elections. That’s like asking someone where do you stand on crime? We are against it.
The question to ask is, should the taxpayers fund political elections? Would you support taxpayer funding of elections if it cost the taxpayers $100 million?
What is more important — keeping a library open or allowing a political candidate the ability to send out mail or call your house advocating for a vote on Election Day? Fair elections are important. Most people will agree. No nexus exists between taxpayer-funded elections and fair elections. The bills are called fair elections because the sponsors named them that.
Should we taxpayers foot the bill for a political campaign when other much more important priorities need to be funded?
Local governments cannot make pension payments. Many roads and bridges are starting to become unsafe and are in desperate need of overhaul. Yet some in government want to spend money on political campaigns while laying off school teachers? Get real.
Next we should be asking Sen. Farley to stand against crime. I am sure he already is, but someone will introduce the crime prevention plan which calls for public funding of campaigns, making arguments that will lead to less political corruption. There is no correlation between public funding of campaigns and lowering levels of corruption.
Smaller donations sound great, and tougher enforcement sounds wonderful, but why should we pay for a political campaign at a time when school districts and local governments are cutting staff? New York City already has a system for public funding of campaigns. That system has not resulted in any of the “fair” results being yelled about by supporters of fair elections legislation. It is simply a matter of priorities.
S-G sports more than just basketball
There are two sides to Scotia-Glenville High School athletics: this year’s boys’ varsity basketball team’s great run — congratulations! — and the total neglect of another sport at that school.
I started my teaching career at Scotia-Glenville High School in 1962. In 1963, I started that school’s first-ever boys’ soccer program and became the team’s varsity coach. Over 40 boys came out for that first team.
This past fall, a group of players from that first team arranged a 50th year celebration held at half-time during the annual Thanksgiving weekend homecoming game held on the school’s varsity soccer field. The school was aware of this event since permission was granted to use the field and sound equipment was furnished by the school. I was presented with a very nice plaque by my former 1963 players.
No one from the school administration, athletic department or soccer coaches attended this event. We were all surprised and disappointed by this show of total lack of class.