Government programs that help the poor are not the problem

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
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Government programs that help the poor are not the problem

In his Dec. 4 letter, Adam Buzanowski attempted to create a causal link between poor parenting, low student test scores and government social programs.

After correctly identifying bad and non-existent parenting — not poor teachers — as the cause of student failure, he then revealed his real agenda, i.e., bashing government social programs.

He states that the “theme” from our recent election is that “. . . monetary success is bad, if you make over $250,000, you’re somehow evil.” Clearly, this is his fantasy — nobody said this, or anything even close.

He goes on to say that government will take care of you, there is “no need to work hard . . . no incentive to become educated.” What a shallow, narrow-minded view of essential government programs for our needy and disabled fellow citizens.

His suggestion that inner-city kids grow up aspiring to emulate their parents’ lifestyles, i.e. struggling on welfare, subsidies and food stamps, is utter nonsense. That is why they turn to drug dealing, addiction and robbery — their desperate attempt to escape from the poverty and hopelessness of the “hood.” His assumption that poor people are just lazy, and want a handout instead of a job, is simply false, as well as totally devoid of compassion or empathy.

Think about what would happen in our society without homeless shelters, food stamps, welfare assistance, and other government programs to help our less fortunate and disabled. Chaos, crime and drug addiction would skyrocket, our cities would become war zones.

Be careful what you wish for — and count your blessings. You may someday become one of “them.”

Vince Dacquisto


The writer is a retired public school teacher.

Op-ed writer was wrong to rap robotics education

L.D. Davidson’s Dec. 9 Viewpoint [“Letting business shape K-12 curriculum is terrible idea”] says sarcastically: “Likewise, it is wonderful that students in Amsterdam are building ‘robots’ that play basketball. It must be great fun, especially if it substitutes for class time better spent on reading, writing, math and learning to think clearly.”

Having mentored students in the same FIRST Robotics Competition in Amsterdam for nearly a decade now, I invite Mr. Davidson to visit with a FIRST team when the season begins next month — almost all meet outside school hours. I extend this invitation because I believe he is misinformed about the program and what results from a student’s participation in it.

When a student has read the competition manual to avoid creating an overweight, out-of-spec machine, written sponsors from the local hardware store on up to NASA (which sponsors 11 teams in New York this year) to pay for expenses, done the math to ensure the motors will hold the load and won’t blow every breaker on the robot, and learned to think clearly when troubleshooting a custom-built 120-pound machine (and its software) in 10 minutes before the next match, the result is not merely a student with specific vocational training. The result is a student prepared to work through tough problems in any business, including those that don’t exist yet.

This is why colleges and universities offer over $16 million in scholarships to graduates of the program, why names from George H.W. Bush to the founders of Google and YouTube have spoken at our championship event, and why companies as diverse as Xerox, Motorola, Bausch & Lomb, Lockheed Martin, L3 Communications, Con Edison, jcpenney, Time Warner Cable, and even the New York Yankees are supporting FIRST teams in the state of New York this year.

And yes, it is great fun.

William “Billfred” Leverette

Columbia, S.C.

In vintage outfits, they sang carols like angels

The folks in the Niskayuna area on Saturday [Dec. 8] were privileged to see and listen to an amazing group of carolers. We were leaving David’s Hair Salon [on Nott Street] when across the street I noticed a group of about 10 or 12, maybe college age, dressed in vintage clothing.

They were leaving the steps of a residence and looked as though they were walking through the streets of an Old World city in their remarkable clothing. Their endless smiles were wonderful to see.

As they got walking, I called out and said, “I bet you sound as beautiful as you look.” They then proceeded to cross the street and give us a special performance, singing “Joy to the World.” By now, those inside the salon were waving for them to come in — which they did — singing and sharing their beautiful God-given voices and energy. Their voices were amazing: the soprano with her angelic tones, the men with their deep vocals, and all those in between. They were all absolutely incredible. They seemed to enjoy providing the entertainment as much as we all were listening to and watching them.

We see pictures, large pictures, plastered on the cover and inside pages of half-naked people running through the streets of Albany drinking and partying, yet the entertainment provided by this group and others like them, very few are privileged to see.

I don’t know the name of the group —I wish I had asked. We should enjoy them while we can. The way things are going in today’s world, it may soon be against the law for groups like this to be wandering the streets singing of good will, peace to men and joyful Christmas carols.

God bless and Merry Christmas to them all.

Lorene Richardson


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 12, 2012
7:51 a.m.
gina99 says...

Vince Dacquisto- More taxes will solve everything? Really funny coming from a Niskayuna resident. Watch the traffic rush hours at the Rexford Bridge because of your "thinking".

December 12, 2012
10:44 a.m.
jpatrick says...

Lorene Richardson,

The Gazette covered the festivities on Union Street on Saturday and the next day published in our print edition photos of caroling students from Brown School, the Niskayuna chorus and a nice shot of a mother and her two little ones.

You can see all the photos in our photo gallery, which we posted on our website Saturday. I only wish we had an audio sample of some of the singing.

Here's the link:

Judy Patrick

December 12, 2012
7:06 p.m.
wmarincic says...

Vince Dacquisto

Here is something to think about, every single kid I know that his been home schooled or has gone to a private school is very well educated, yet those private school teachers make very little income, usually under $20,000 per year. That is probably less than half of the pension of a public school teachers, yet Schenectady has a 57% graduation rate. So it makes sense that if we want our kids to have a great education and actuallygraduate, we need to pay our public school teachers 75% less.

December 12, 2012
7:21 p.m.
dan says...

The problem is more complex than that. Those students who are have other options outside of private schools on average come from much richer families than the average inner-city kids. Also on average, richer families tend to have parents who did better in school (be it public or private). And as such, genetics says their kids would also do better in school. And that's why private schools often do better. If you took the actual students in private schools and public schools and swapped them, you'll find that the public schools far outshine the private schools.

December 13, 2012
7:42 a.m.
wmarincic says...

dan, my friends started homeschooling and then sent them to a privarte school were far from rich. Frank worked his butt off and watched his money. They drove one crappy car for years and saved for their kids education. Their son Frankie is in the U.S. Marines as an intelligence officer and their daughter is in SUNY studying English with a Political Science minor. The question is, why can teachers that make less than 20k per year do as good or better of a job of teaching as one that makes 80k with full benefits?

December 13, 2012
1:52 p.m.
dan says...

And I'm saying, they probably can't. Do you think their son and daughter would have dropped out if they went to public school and failed at life? They were probably bright young kids who would have done well at whatever school they went to. And I'm not sure where you're getting your numbers. A lot of private schools pay teachers more than public schools. The average public school teacher gets $53,000 and the average private school teacher gets $40,000... both with full benefits ( ).

December 14, 2012
7:33 a.m.
wmarincic says...

The numbers I get are the ones comming across my desk, granted I only see 3 or 4 private school teachers per year but none have been much more than 20k and that is a guy that had 15 years in. I had a teacher last night with 4 months teaching, she makes 44k per year. I see usually 5 or 6 public school teachers a month. My whole point I guess is the school system, I'm sure that none of the teachers want kids to fail but I feel their hands are tied. When I was a kid there was corporal punishment and teachers used it. I'm a supporter for school choice and getting rid of the unions.

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