Letters to the Editor

To know him was to love him

To the editor:

I just read in the Recorder about Dutch Howlan's admission to the hall of fame. I have a question: Why did it take so long? From the time I first met him in the 1930s, to the time he passed away, he was a contributor in the largest sense of the word. When St. Mary's was located on Forbes Street they played their home games at Theodore Roosevelt Junior High. I never saw him give less than 100 percent. As a coach he raised the bar so high you couldn't possibly make it, but in attempting to, you exceeded your prior efforts. Everybody tried to win for him because you didn't want to disappoint him. If you played for him, and you had troubles away from the game, a sit-down with Dutch usually cured your problems. Even now, when his name is injected into a conversation, you will never find anything negative.

Now that he's settled in upstairs, I'm sure he met another SMI man, Bernie Welch. I hope when they get together, and my judgment day comes, they will put in a good word for me. God knows that I'll need all the help that I can get.

To know this man was to love him.

James J. Sheridan, Amsterdam

The best care anywhere

To the editor:

Who says bigger is better. People seem to think they need to go to larger hospitals to get better care. Not true. The care I received at St. Mary's Healthcare was outstanding. I would like to thank Sharon Perfetti in outpatient registration, the nurses in the outpatient department and the operating room staff for the kindness and care they showed during my surgery.

Last, but not least, God bless Dr. Ron Marsh for his skilled hands. I hope that Amsterdam realizes how fortunate we are to have Dr. Marsh.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

Helen Abbattisti, Amsterdam

Students equipped to succeed

To the editor:

The state Education Department is warning parents and teachers that the scores on this year's state assessments in grades 3-8 English language arts and math could be dramatically lower than last year. That's because the 2013 tests reflect the tougher learning standards of common core. SED is basing its forecast on test results seen in other states, such as Kentucky where scores dropped 46 percent from the previous year.

It's understandable that we feel disappointed when we see lower scores, but it should be expected because of the higher educational goals built into common core learning standards.

On the other hand, maybe we should appreciate this as a wake-up call for our students' sake. They are the ones that must build a life on the educational framework we provide in our schools. Common core was designed to strengthen the framework and position our kids for a brighter future.

State Education Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz pointed out that evidence of fewer students meeting or exceeding grade-level common core expectations is "necessary if we are to be transparent and honest about what our students know and can do as they progress toward college and career readiness."

That is the crux of the matter. We are conditioned to view lower scores as failure. We don't like to think that we are less than OK in any way, including education. In fact, our rapidly progressing world will not slow down for an education system that lags behind, and our kids pay the price.

So welcome common core into the mix. The initiative, being implemented in 44 states, is a starting point to ensure that our students graduate equipped to succeed on whatever path they choose, whether it is college, vocational training, the military or a job.

This will be challenging, because the learning standards are higher and emphasize critical thinking and communication skills beyond simple memorization of facts. However, this is what our kids need to succeed in the world beyond high school.

This will be hard, because all change is hard, and requires everyone -- teachers, students, parents, principals -- to get past a very natural fear of change to embrace a new model. But the results will be measured in success stories from our graduates.

This may be exasperating, because right off the bat, lower test scores this year will shine a light on where we are not OK, not yet. But that's not a bad thing. It establishes a baseline for improvement and offers an opportunity to thoroughly prepare students for their future, the ultimate goal of education.

Patrick Michel, Johnstown

The writer is HFM BOCES district superintendent.

Constantly under renovation

To the editor:

Much is being said and written, especially in the mainstream media, about where they hope the Catholic Church goes under the guidance of Pope Francis, and the church's present faults and past failings.

First it's erroneous to assume that "the church" is a direct synonym for "the hierarchy," "the bishops," and "the Vatican." The church is not an institution. It is composed of entirely sinful people. But Catholics are also human beings, and are not more prone to evil than the general population. There is no option of escaping grave sin in this world; you meet it everywhere, including the mirror. That's why we have the penitential rite in every Mass and the sacrament of confession. You can't avoid the fact of human fallenness and the church was never promised that human sin would not afflict her or her members. That's because no mere mortal (no, not even the pope) constitutes the soul of the church. The soul of the church is the Holy Spirit.

The Catholic faith does not stand or fall with the moral quality of our bishops. It stands on Jesus Christ, and this is where we place our faith, as he is gracious to knuckleheads and sinners.

Judging the church on the actions of a dwindling small population of abusive priests and stupid bishops is like evaluating all the apostles just by the behavior of Judas. The Catholic church was founded after all, on Peter, who Catholic theologian G.K. Chesterton described as "a shuffler, a coward, and a snob -- in a word, a man." We have to remember that this is the man for whom the cardinals voted a successor. We are a communion of sinners before we become a communion of saints, and the church is like "This Old House," perpetually under renovation, and a mess. But, thankfully, God is merciful.

Deborah A. Humphreys, Amsterdam

Saying yes to NOEP

To the editor:

Did you know there is a free and confidential service in New York state that is helping people in communities like ours put food on the table and bring much needed money to local businesses? It's called the Nutrition Outreach and Education Program (NOEP) and last year it helped bring in over $84 million local communities across the state.

NOEP provides individuals, couples and families with a free prescreening to find out if they might be eligible for SNAP, the new name for the food stamp program, and helps them through the application process. SNAP is an entitlement program, like Social Security, so the more households that apply for SNAP and use their benefits, the more revenue for our local businesses. This extra money means more jobs at local grocery stores, farmers' markets buying more produce from local farms, and more products purchased from local businesses.

NOEP is helping to make sure that the our local grocers and businesses are getting all the money they can to keep the local people here working and all of New York's farmers in business. Help spread the word about NOEP throughout New York.

For more information about NOEP or a confidential prescreening to find out if you may be eligible for SNAP, contact the Legal Aid Society at 842-9466.

Carmen Cintron, Amsterdam