Yes, include special ed kids in regular classes, but for right reasons

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
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Yes, include special ed kids in regular classes, but for right reasons

As a longtime advocate for students with disabilities, and one of the early leaders in this country for including them in regular education classrooms, I was heartened to read [the Dec. 3 article] “District to Revise Special Ed Program.”

Having said that, I must express the hope that all of the necessary support students need to be successful in an inclusive environment be provided, that moving students from special education to regular education is not done to save money.

For example, Superintendent Laurence Spring mentioned that many students have come to rely on one-on-one aides. While that may be true, one has to look at why this is so. In my experience, I have found that these aides are assigned because of significant acting out by students and that without that support, the student would have to remain in a smaller environmen. Having this type of student is a regular classroom can be very disruptive.

I have often advocated that these students be provided much more in-depth emphasis by way of counseling by a social worker or psychologist, taking the focus off teaching subjects for a time, with more focus on the reasons why the student has the emotional problems that he or she exhibits.

I also am hopeful that a look will be taken at students who are sent out of the district — i.e. students with severe physical problems. These students are more often overlooked for including because most people feel that they need highly structured settings, where the concentration is on physical and speech therapy.

In my opinion, and that of many professionals in the field, these are the students who need inclusive settings more than anyone else. These students need to be surrounded by other students who are speaking normally as good role models, rather than only being with other students who are non-verbal. Whatever else they need, for example physical or occupational therapies, can be provided in a regular public school.

I have always said that there is nothing really special about special education that cannot be provided in a public school.

Marilyn R. Wessels


Local drivers still speeding, killing

I returned to the area today [Dec. 6] after a long absence and picked up a Gazette for a trip down memory lane.

Sadly, I found the front two sections dominated by tragic stories: two separate cases of young people in speeding vehicles killing other young people.

It’s been eight years since Josh Paniccia killed my old co-worker [GE scientist] David Ryan in the same manner [July 1, 2004 Gazette]. Nothing has changed.

This was hardly the nostalgia I was looking for.

Mark McKenzie

Shaftsbury, Vt.

In his Dec. 4 letter [“Why learn and work hard when you’ll still receive?”], Alan Buzanowski concludes that low test scores in Schenectady schools are the result of an Obama administration policy of redistributing wealth from those at the top to those at the bottom.

His position is that children as young as 5 years old have learned from their parents that success in school is not important, because, should you fail to succeed, President Obama, through his wealth distribution plan, will put all of us on the same footing.

It requires so many inaccuracies and false assumptions to reach this conclusion, that it is a challenge to know which to refute first. I would start by saying that this straight-line, cause-and-effect relationship between supposed income redistribution and low test scores, does not exist.

Mr. Buzanowski makes no mention of the childhood poverty rate, recently reported to be at around 50 percent in Schenectady. It seems very likely that wealth, or the lack of it, is a factor when it comes to test scores. And it is also clear that poverty predates any Obama policy regarding wealth redistribution.

To say that the issues at play here are complex falls woefully short of any realistic characterization. Considering this complexity, Mr. Buzanowski’s simplistic, black-and-white analysis does not provide us with even a starting point toward understanding and resolution.

Rich Leon


‘Policy’ is reason Obama won and Romney lost

I keep reading different reasons why Romney lost the election — from the media’s coverage, Hurricane Sandy, voter turnout, gifts to the lower and middle classes, or [New Jersey] Gov. Christie.

Romney lost in the primaries when people learned that the policy of the GOP was going so far to the right. Jon Huntsman withdrew because he believed in global warming, evolution and that the Earth was billions of years old. He could not get GOP support.

How can a sitting president with an unemployment rate of 7.9 [percent] not only win, but win the Electoral College vote, 332-206? One word — “policy.”

He [Romney] lost the women’s vote because he would overturn Roe vs. Wade with Supreme Court nominations, would stop funding Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions, and would repeal Obamacare.

He lost the black vote for all the above reasons, plus the Republicans’ attempt to restrict the right to vote with new registration requirements. He also wanted to reduce or eliminate the safety nets for people living in poverty. That $10,000 bet he wanted to make [during the primary debates] was over half a year’s salary for someone working for minimum wages, or the 47 percent that didn’t pay taxes.

He lost the Hispanic vote for his idea that the illegal Hispanics would self-deport if they couldn’t get jobs. He was also against the Dream Act.

He lost because he said [the] auto industry should go bankrupt. He lost because he wanted to do away with the Environmental Protection Agency and government restrictions on Wall Street, and give the wealthy more tax relief.

He lost because he wanted to privatize Social Security, make Medicare a vocher program, eliminate the Department of Education and privative FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency].

The GOP policies would take us back to the ’50s. Romney lost because his policies would hurt the poor and middle class while only helping the top 2 percent. He lost because of GOP “policies.”

John P. Baim


Movies with smoking should be rated ‘R’

This holiday season will bring many new movies to theaters, and teens and tweens on holiday recess from school will fill the seats. Over 30 new movies are expected to open between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.

You may think the film ratings are intended to protect your children from content and images that are not age-appropriate, but those ratings fail to protect your children from seeing their favorite celebrities smoking, even in G-rated movies. Portrayals of smoking in movies promote rebellion, independence, sexiness, wealth, power and celebration. Rarely do movies depict the realities of smoking — characters suffering from smoke-related diseases and the effects of secondhand smoke.

A new study by the Legacy Foundation found that youth-rated movies (G, PG, PG-13) featured more smoking than the year before. According to the same study, youth-rated movies accounted for 68 percent of all tobacco impressions delivered to theater audiences in 2011. All this on-screen smoking strongly influences our children to start.

The bottom line is that action needs to be taken now! We must protect our children from influences that cause smoking. Contact the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) at and tell them movies with smoking require an R rating or contact your local Reality Check chapter at

Sarah Kraemer


The writer is the program coordinator for Reality Check of Catholic Charities of Fulton & Montgomery Counties.

Pictures of mangled cars serve a purpose

I could certainly sympathize with Carol Ramundo’s Dec. 7 letter in the Gazette about survivors of car accidents not wanting to see a picture of the mangled cars that took their loved ones.

However, I disagree with her comment that these pictures do not prevent more [of] such accidents from happening. When I was younger, I had to take a driver safety class because I was driving Norfolk, Va., city cars. They showed us a movie with many serious and fatal accidents and it made a lasting impression on me to drive safely.

Pictures are worth a thousand words. How many have not started or given up smoking as a result of pictures of smokers’ lungs, or the lifestyle they could eventually have?

Meanwhile, my praises to the students in the Shenendehowa school system who organized by themselves a service that over 10,000 students attended for the students who recently died.

Geraldine Havasy


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December 11, 2012
7:33 a.m.
wmarincic says...

John P. Baim
All lies, Obama let the auto industry file bankruptsy and the only difference is that he gave the union their pensions and screwed everyone else, just look at Delphi. What don't you understand about illegal aliens, 75% of all rapes and murders in California are caused by illegals. Illegal means Illegal...I would rather have a private investment, it has not hurt the people that have had pensions for the last 75 years, if I had 30% of my income being invested I would have about 3 million by retirement, that is a whole lot better than $1400 a month. I don't understand what is wrong with showing an ID to vote, everyone needs to show an ID for dozens of things per year, why not to vote. Planned parenthood is an abortion clinic period and if they are such a great organization then they will survive on private donations. As far as the Supreme Court goes, first noone has retired. secondly look how the Obamacare vote went, from what I know they are supposed to vote constitutionally. Are you saying they dont?

December 11, 2012
8:30 a.m.
gina99 says...

John Baim- What policies did Obama implement? His health care plan was crafted by Congress. Maybe you mean Obama's undeclared war in Libya? His failure to address illegal aliens? Obama won because he gave out more benefits. Romney could not overcome his Mormonism. Simple and plain. Despite the fact that 10 million less voted for Obama Romney could not fire up the Republican base. Only 52% today approve of the job Obama is doing.

December 11, 2012
9:27 a.m.
buzzy says...

Mr. Leon apparently in your ideologue blindness you failed to see that my letter puts the onus on success to begin at home. My reference to the recently completed campaign season has to do with what creates the attitude of lack of responsibility. The ingrained for generations belief that you cant better yourself but you will always get what you need. That your poverty, or whatever holds you back so just sit back and "receive". I will stick by my statement that poverty is NOT an excuse for not being successful . Successful defined as being self sufficient and a productive member of society

December 11, 2012
1:52 p.m.
bostonredsoxfan says...

wmarincic- You have cited that 75% statistic regarding rapes and murders in California more than once, however you have not provided a source. I have looked extensively, and can't find that number cited anywhere else. Where did that number come from. Additionally, does it refer only to convictions, or does it include indictments and warrants issued? Does it include only those crimes that are reported? Are unsolved crimes factored in? Some context, which might be provided by the original source, would be helpful.

December 11, 2012
7:55 p.m.
wmarincic says...

bostonredsoxfan I don't remember the exact source and fot the purpose of the statement I rounded it off. If you look at multiple sources it gives active warrants, and gang murders and those wanted for murder. But even if it is 10% it is way too many. Plus we have to look at the cost to the economy, even though illegals can not collect social services and SSI their American born kids do. It's a bad deal for America no matter how you look at it.

December 11, 2012
10:17 p.m.
bostonredsoxfan says...

wmarincic- I did see a variety of numbers referring to a variety of criteria. I agree that any is too many. However, in regard to who is helped and served, I am called as a Christian to look beyond human borders and remember that Christ is represented in the homeless, hungry, the sick, and the imprisoned.

December 11, 2012
10:54 p.m.
myshortpencil says...

I'd like to know how far you're willing to go, Sarah Kraemer. Does tobacco smoking get an R rating while pot smoking gets PG? What about drinking alcohol? Shouldn't that be R rated, along with bullying and showing fat people? Obesity now prematurely kills more USA citizens than smoking.

December 12, 2012
7:56 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Boston, I too am a Christian and it is a tough position but if we allow everyone from everywhere to suck off the teet of America then the teet will dry up and nobody will be fed. We are almost at the point now with 47% of the population not giving to keep the country afloat.

December 12, 2012
9:58 a.m.
SnowGrinch says...

Are we still repeating the lie that "47% of the population pay no taxes?"
According to the the Tax Policy Center, in 2011, 46.4 percent of American households paid no federal income tax.
The same data shows, that nearly two-thirds of households that paid no income tax DID PAY payroll taxes. And most people also pay some combination of state, local, sales, gas and property taxes.

So just who are those who pay no taxes?
Who are those who "suck off the teat of America"?
*In 2011, 78,000 tax filers with incomes between $211,000 and $533,000 paid no income taxes;
* 24,000 households with incomes of $533,000 to $2.2 million paid no income taxes,
* 3,000 tax filers with incomes above $2.2 million paid no income taxes.

Those "sucking the teat of America" are those with the most ability to pay!
Billionaire Leona Helmsley spoke for this group when she famously said:
"We Don't Pay Taxes. Only The Little People Pay Taxes..."

December 12, 2012
10:45 a.m.
seawitch1313 says...

Geraldine Havasy.....
While I am sure the picture of the vehicle was hard for the family and friends of the deceased to see, I have to agree with you. In my opinion, all individuals should see a video, or a victim of drunk/erratic driving before they are given their license.
I grew up in the 60/70's, when acid was the drug of choice next to marijuana. I was a Candy Striper at St.Clare's hospital, and happened upon a man who had taken acid, and jumped thru a picture window 2 stories up. He had more stitches than anyone I had ever seen before. That alone was enough to stop me from ever wanting to try acid or comparable. To this day I can still see him and what he looked like. My point being, teaching by example so to speak, does work, at least it did for me!

December 12, 2012
6:54 p.m.
wmarincic says...

We are talking Federal Snowgrinch and Obama's job czar jeff Inmelt is the CEO of GE who rake in Billions and pay no taxes. Obama's buddy the CEO of Google just transfered billions to an offshore account in Bermuda. Tell me again about those rich people!!!

December 14, 2012
8:51 a.m.


Once a student has been assessed able to function at 'grade level,' every attempt should be made to accommodate them in their neighborhood school. Functioning at grade level is what builds peers and role models. Witnessing someone earn a B, or a, C on the same test you just took goes further to foster inclusion than laws, and mandates ever will. Earning a grade, mastering a subject, is why they are in school. Give all kids the resources they need to get the most out of curriculum.

If, for whatever reason, someone can not succeed at grade/age level, then so be it. Address them at their level, and move on. This recognizes their individuality without subjecting them to ridicule, which can not be erased by laws or mandates.

Inclusion will never be achieved through laws, mandates, buildings, or, programs.

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