We owe more than we can pay
To the editor:
In my darkest moments, I pause to wonder why there isn't someone like Bob Going in the many small surrounding communities.
I know there are gold star mothers in places like Herkimer, Ilion and Frankfort and throughout the state and the country. These are people with broken hearts and long-time suffering who deserve some type of recognition outside of consigning May 31 and Nov. 11 to their memory. I do believe we are more in debt to them than we choose to acknowledge. There should be a federal allotment to allow for the research that Bob has done. It entails gas money, postage and man hours of research. Bob did this on his own. There isn't a large amount of monetary gain -- just the feeling that you have afforded these people, who are no longer with us, a sense of being.
I am very upset that these thousands of human beings, who are also our friends, families and neighbors, are being consigned to "collateral damage." We owe them much more than we can repay. Bob's books are well worth reading. He is "real big" in a realistic way when it comes to conveying pain that was involved in the loss of these people.
Bob presents a very striking figure. Of course, he is no Jim Sheridan, but then, who is? I patiently await a call from the Pulitzer people in St. Louis. I just hope that it doesn't come posthumously.
My wife Mary is a classic case of dedication. She taught in Head Start for 33 years and she had the privilege of meeting the following people: Rose Vidot, Barbara Faulds, Dawn Garti, Pat Carpenter, Phil Merritt, Maurice Farhart, Barry Douglas, Sherry Kline, Joan Teabout and one of the most beautiful women we have ever met, Gladys Paterak. When the 33 years were up she was left with a small pension and just a closet full of beautiful memories of some really beautiful people.
I am dedicating this to my private secretary, and I am pleased to announce that I'm only three weeks behind in her stipend.
Falling prey to addiction
To the editor:
Every day, our kids are exposed to a tremendous amount of tobacco marketing in convenience stores, gas stations, pharmacies and grocery stores. It is not an accident that tobacco products are displayed in the most visible location in stores -- directly behind the checkout counter. Exposure to tobacco marketing in stores is a primary cause of youth smoking so we need to take action to protect our kids.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the nation, and it costs New York taxpayers more than $8 billion annually in health care costs. Retail stores are the main channels of communication for the tobacco industry, and they spend more money to market their products than the junk food, soda and alcohol industries combined. Seventy-five percent of teens shop in convenience stores at least once per week, and research shows that exposure to tobacco marketing is a primary cause of youth smoking. Retailers located in minority communities tend to market cheaper cigarettes or provide more "buy-one, get-one" deals than those in more affluent, non-minority communities.
Research shows that kids who shop at stores with tobacco marketing two or more times a week are 64 percent more likely to start smoking than their peers who don't. Parents and community members don't realize that just by seeing these displays our kids are more likely to smoke and fall prey to a lifetime of tobacco addiction.
Each year 22,500 youth in New York state become new daily smokers and 31.6 million packs of cigarettes are bought or smoked by New York state. There is one licensed tobacco retailer for every 194 children in New York state. On average, these retailers provide 32 square feet behind the checkout counter for tobacco displays. Research also shows that retailers near schools have more products on display and more signs and tend to offer significantly lower cigarette prices than other stores in the community.
Concerned community members and parents can take action to protect our kids at TobaccoFreeNYS.org.
This is only the beginning
To the editor:
Led by Commissioner John King and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (don't forget him in this mess), the New York State Education Department has been touting the Common Core, standardized testing from grade 3 through high school, and a new teacher evaluation system as the way to improve New York state's failing schools (their words, not mine).
Teachers and parents have been pushing back for the first time in recent memory and now, the commissioner comes out and says, maybe we don't really need all of this testing.
This says a lot more than it appears to say at first blush. This speaks less about the feelings of the commissioner on testing and more about the fact that the plan that the state Education Department has bought into is built on sand or should I say federal dollars. Let's face it, if a leader decides this is the correct direction in which we should be moving, that leader should know every inch of the plan and be able to defend that plan to anyone. The leader would expect resistance to change. The leader would get out ahead of that resistance and explain to people what will be done to make the plan successful, and why it is necessary for the success of the organization. Obviously, that is not the case here. As a matter of fact, just recently Commissioner King told the media that he did not foresee the pushback that he is experiencing. Dropping the testing is not a sign of strength or planning. It is a sign of weakness. More weakness will come out as we move forward.
New York, like most other states, jumped on the Race to the Top bandwagon and chased a $700,000,000 federal grant that mandated common core, testing and other items in order to get the money. We raced for the dollars and had no real commitment or plan for our schools. Now we have a mess. Teachers and parents and student are suffering with something that makes no sense.
We just saw the first bricks fall off of the SED plan. The plan is built on sand, and it will eventually implode.
There will be more, because this is only the beginning of the push back from parents and teachers. It will get worse. The noise will get louder.