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Where is the outrage over school funding disparity in Schenectady?

Sunday, December 23, 2012
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Where is the outrage over school funding disparity in Schenectady?

As a new resident of Schenectady with grandchildren in the public school system, I have been reading with great interest all of the articles regarding the schools in this city. I think that the coverage given by the paper has been a wonderful way to stay informed.

On Dec. 11 I attended the winter concert at Paige Elementary and heard Superintendent Laurence Spring talk about the inequity of funding given school systems throughout the state. Schenectady is receiving just 54 percent of the state aid that it should be receiving by law!

Schenectady has the dubious distinction of having the 13th-highest concentration of childhood poverty in the state. Clearly our children would not only benefit from our schools receiving their fair share of funding, but there is a very real possibility that they would actually thrive.

It seems that Superintendent Spring is doing all that is possible to draw attention to this issue. According to all the articles I have read, including your Dec. 13 one, “Spring: Too many black kids getting mental health label,” he is shining a bright light in every corner of our school system.

I would like to help him by applying as much pressure as possible regarding this disproportion in funding. It is appalling that our children, who are already facing terrible adversity, must suffer more by not receiving the best education possible because of spending cuts, programs barely operating on a shoestring and programs not available at all because the money just isn’t there.

I can certainly write a letter to our governor and will, as I am sure other parents and grandparents will. However, how much more amplified would our voices be if article after article regarding this issue appeared in our local paper?

Schenectady, one of the poorest districts in the state, is among 22 districts being funded below 54 percent. Only 3 percent of all districts are being funded at this level. Meanwhile, 138 districts are funded at 100 percent or more. More than $120 million is being overpaid to districts.

Imagine the results if every Schenectady resident expressed outrage over this issue.

Mary Lou Russo

Schenectady

What are civilians doing with assault weapons?

I have been tearfully watching the reports of the children and adults killed in Newtown, Conn. It has been reported that one of the weapons was a 9mm Glock.

Before all NRA members protest, my son is a hunting guide in Montana and has responsibly used guns since he was a teenager. He never once considered a 9mm as the weapon of choice for hunting or protection. As a matter of fact, he gave up using guns for any other quarry than birds because it was too easy. He has bagged elk and deer with a bow.

Some prudent restrictions need to be made with respect to the types of weapons available to the public at large. I am 73 and have never known or heard of even one person who protected his or her family using a Glock or an Uzi. I have heard of law enforcement personnel who have been killed and injured by these weapons, but not one person who was protected by their use.

The reasons the "right to bear arms" is in the Constitution is not because Jefferson, Washington and Franklin thought everyone ought to have access to all available munitions. Most Americans of that time had emigrated from European societies, where only the aristocrats could legally own guns. Hunting was not allowed by the average person because all wildlife was the property of the king or the local lord. Men could be, and were, hanged for the crime of feeding their families.

The early settlers of America provided for their families by hunting with firearms, which also provided some protection in a harsh environment. Assurance that they would always be allowed to do that was a serious concern. There were no Price Choppers or Hannafords at the time.

A second reason for including this "right" was there was no standing army; most men were members of their local militia and needed rifles for that purpose.

In spite of the NRA's indefensible contention that all restrictions and regulations are unconstitutional, it has become more and more obvious that some brake needs to be applied to a runaway bus! Even under our current laws, one needs to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. One should have to apply for and have a compelling reason to own a weapon such as a 9mm or an Uzi.

Such ownership and use could be restricted to gun clubs, which would own and be 100 percent responsible for the security of such weapons. Loss of these would subject the owner/operator to severe financial penalties, including loss of personal property even if the organization is incorporated. Robbery would not serve as a defense.

No matter how many crocodile tears are shed by gun owners, unless and until they help by standing at the forefront of stringent and potent steps taken to limit access to these weapons of mass destruction (armed with a bow and arrow, would so many kids have been killed?) they are aiding and abetting the slaughter of children and law enforcement officers.

No one can stop lightning, and every loose nut will not be tightened, but let’s resolve to reduce the probability that another deranged person or persons will have the means to wreak havoc on our children.

Frank Elfland

Charlton

Region lucky to have so many good newspapers

We here in the Capital Region are blessed with a wonderful assortment of great newspapers.

I have traveled a bit and am so surprised to find many very large cities with only one paper available. And quite frankly, their personality, quality and content don’t hold a candle to those of this area.

Yes, we have a constitutional right to freedom of the press, but that is only valuable if something is published. Yes, the newspapers are struggling against the Internet, but let me say the social media on the Web is completely inferior when it comes to local news and events.

Sure, the Web media have the big stories, and sometimes they are the same as I read in the paper. But there is something special, to the point of magical, to be your own editor and peruse the papers every day.

Thank you so much, Gazette, Times Union, Record and Saratogian, you’re a treasure!

Andrew M. Kopach

Rotterdam

Reilly set good example for all state legislators

We wish to publicly thank [soon-to-be retired] Assemblyman Bob Reilly for his extraordinary service to the citizens of New York state.

As an assemblyman, he has donated all his salary to many charities, while also taking the time and trouble to keep his constituents regularly informed via the cable access TV channel. He worked hard at his job. Though we read about some legislators on the take or abusing their office, Mr. Reilly’s tenure has been above reproach.

For example, House Speaker John Boehner is presently working with President Obama on [the country’s] financial future. While he was on the floor of the House, Mr. Boehner passed out tobacco company cash to some of his Republican friends. That was unprincipled behavior and he should have resigned his seat. Instead, he is the leader for the House Republicans. Not every legislator can forgo his salary, but at least they should not abuse or disgrace their office.

We extend our thanks and best wishes to Bob Reilly and applaud him for his generosity, honesty and sterling performance while in the Assembly.

Mary Jane Valachovic

Bill Valachovic

Niskayuna

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comments

December 23, 2012
8:42 a.m.
albright1 says...

Frank, I realize you know very little if anything about the subject you are writing about, but do you know what an Uzi is? It is an automatic firearm. American citizens are not allowed to own them. Do you know what a 9mm is? It is a standard pistol caliber highly appropriate for self-defense. In most states, you must have a permit to own a 9mm pistol. How about a 45ACP or a 38? Are those ok? Or is it just 9mm and Uzi's. Millions of American's use weapons to defend themselves every year.

December 23, 2012
2:03 p.m.
ThePhilistine says...

Agreed Frank has no idea what hes talking about. Most people who say "assault weapon" are also in the same boat as Frank.

December 24, 2012
8:48 p.m.
wmarincic says...

Government figures from the National Survey of Criminal Victimization suggest 100,000 uses a year of guns in self-defense against crime, the vast majority of these uses being the display of weapons to deter or dissuade. And those numbers are considered very low.

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