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Letters to the editor

Saturday, February 15, 2014 - Updated: 4:09 AM

The days at Mount Loretto

To the editor:

As promised, I would like to share with you the most joyful 17 years I spent in the labor force at a unit which no longer exists -- Mount Loretto Nursing Home.

The glue that held Mount Loretto together were Sr. Patricia Ann Corbett, Sr. Damien and the department heads: Kathy Williams, Wanda Tolpa, Paula Haussfauter, the nursing staff, Sally K. and two people who are no longer with us -- Florence Hartman and Diane Dunbar.

What impressed me most of all was that once you went to work there you were on a first-name basis with everyone. And, when I went there, most of the help were there anywhere from five to 25 years. I stayed not for the monetary gain, but for the good feeling once you worked from Monday to Friday you knew you had achieved comfort for the residents. All of the people who were in authority set the bar so high you could not attain it. But in trying, you exceeded your own expectations. Everybody seemed to pull together.

And then there were the coffee breaks. You would have 30 to 40 people sitting at 10 different tables discussing 10 different topics and never agreeing on anything. When you could not decide who was right we all headed to the laundry. There was a man in the laundry who I have known for 25 years. He would solve your problems not by supposition or his opinion, but by cold hard facts. His word was accepted by everyone. He knew the rudiments of every book published since Guttenberg translated the Bible.

Things that not everyone knew like "does a snake have ears?" "Does a water buffalo have bad breath?" "Does a chicken have lips?" What really knocked my socks off was when everyone wanted to know what the main ingredient in commercial perfume was -- it was called ambergris. It is the vomit of a beluga whale -- look it up. This mans name is Thomas Andrzejewski. Tommy's wife came to visit me during my recent hospital stay. She is retired and volunteers. He has a sister who I am very pleased to call my friend -- we call her "Ace."

I'm getting very tired and there is quite a bit more about Mount Loretto and people like Ann Bush whom I'll hit you with next Saturday -- Lord willing.

James J. Sheridan, Amsterdam

The education governor

To the editor:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the self-proclaimed leader of education in New York state, is at it again. On Monday, the commissioner of education and board of regents chancellor announced that a committee of regents would forward a plan to deal with among other things the total mishandling of the rollout of the Common Core standards and related testing that, among other things, would affect teacher evaluation, to be voted on at a Board of Regents meeting that was held on Tuesday. That plan was immediately scrapped when the Governor/Head NY State Education Lobbyist/Teacher Evaluation Expert, told the commissioner and chancellor that he did not like it, because he wants to get those teachers who are doing a bad job and fire them with his self-devised teacher evaluation plan which links student performance on high stakes tests directly to teacher ratings. So much for checks and balances, huh? State Ed comes up with a plan. The Gov whines. State Ed drops the plan. At least we have established that the State Education Department might not be needed in that we can run education right out of the governor's office.

After advocating the "death penalty" for underperforming schools, in a system which is too expensive and underperforming, New York's education governor set out to fix the schools with his world class teacher evaluation system, which by the way makes no sense to anyone familiar with it and is also totally stalled at this point, because school districts which are fighting for their financial lives cannot afford the staffing to properly conduct Cuomo's misguided evaluations anyway.

Ironically, the good news is that teachers are doing just fine according to the first round of Cuomo evaluation. On Oct. 22, John King, the New York State commissioner of education, proudly announced that there are only a handful of ineffective teachers in all of New York state (the results did not include New York City). As a matter of fact the number of ineffective people leading our state's classrooms is about 1 percent. This is fantastic news; however, it was also very costly news in that the Cuomo teacher evaluation plan has already cost the state and local school districts tens of millions of dollars while generating no removals of ineffective teachers, no staff development programs and no improvements to instruction.

According to the State Education Department press release, results, based on data submitted by school districts and BOCES as of the Oct. 18 deadline, found that 91.5 percent of teachers are rated highly effective (49.7 percent) or effective (41.8 percent); 4.4 percent are rated developing; and 1 percent are rated ineffective. Those results are fabulous with nearly 92 percent of the state's teachers coming out at the very top where they belong. I worked in New York state public schools for 40 years. It does not surprise me that our teachers in New York state are outstanding.

This begs the questions of:

Why did Cuomo slam on the brakes when the Board of Regents created a plan to examine Common Core implementation?

Why is he still touting a failed teacher evaluation plan?

Why is he trying to micromanage education from his office?

Those questions should be answered by the governor.

Mr. Cuomo, please stop taking pop shots and tell us what you are thinking.

John Metallo, Slingerlands

Now, on with the show

To the editor:

Joe the Pro, Joe the Pro, Joe the Pro, Joe the Pro, Joe the Pro, Joe the Pro, Joe the Pro. Heard enough? I have. Now, can we please get on with the real show at City Hall? That is the real reason why all you elected officials are there, just in case, you forgot.

Peter M. DeMasi Sr., Amsterdam

A pork barrel shaped like a school

To the editor:

New York lost a historic record breaking number of people under 2013 -- over 100,000 left our state. The highest number of people fleeing any state in history. That is probably 30,000 households gone.

It was not the excellent educational system that scared them off. New York does rank high on elementary school education but at a cost of 50 percent more than its closest rivals. (NY approx. $16,500/student vs. $11,000/student). So to reach the same level of quality we New York taxpayers pay 50 percent more. While the national average of one year of elementary school costs approx. $11,000 per student New York costs $16,500. While the average cost in New York is $16,500 the cost of an elementary student in Northville is $20,000 per student according to the newest school budget. This is beyond scandal and is nothing but an outrage. Do we in Northville have to pay nearly twice the national average to educate our students? If it takes one hour to teach something in Blacksburg, Va., must it take two hours in Northville? Do we have extremely non-gifted students or non-gifted teachers? I don't think so but what we have is small-town cronyism on steroids. What we have is a huge pork barrel in the shape of a school.

How fast would the board of education pay out $20,000 to every parent whose student chooses to study at home? I'm guessing they would laugh at the very suggestion. Parents of three school age children would get $60,000 per year to teach in their home -- and it's perfectly reasonable according to our school board.

Being a teacher or principal is grand and noble but the educational requirements are not all that demanding so we are not talking samurai swords here rather table knives -- but nice ones. Do we need so many administrators and staff to achieve what others do for half the taxes or is this simply a socialistic "create fake jobs and stimulate the local economy" by taxing the stuffings out of everybody and paying inflated wages to these state workers?

Surely in many small communities across the state school administrators and staff are the pseudo elite that keep the local economies going but at the cost of real jobs by private business people. Undoing this will be a mini-Soviet Union collapse and indeed painful but school taxes must be reeled in by up to 50 percent to make our community attractive to families and businesses.

I'm not leaving Northville or New York until my guy in the sky says so. We who choose to stay must via our democratic rights regain control of the school budget, sideline the school board cronies and like other states reach educational goals for half the money.

Mark Collins, Northville


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