Teacher testing, core learning no panacea, but a reasonable start

Thursday, November 8, 2012
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Teacher testing, core learning no panacea, but a reasonable start

Kathryn Biel’s Nov. 4 Viewpoint [“Core Learning, teacher testing hurting kids and home life”] makes a case against teacher testing and higher expectations for our students. She describes unhappy children, children who must learn at a higher rate and parents who are forced to ask, “Can I let my children play?”

While I agree there are many problems with our educational system that are not addressed by the Common Core Learning Standards, or by the addition of testing for teacher evaluation, we should consider these steps in the right direction.

We should not be asking children how happy they are. Some children will not be up to the challenge, and the indicator of our success may be returning to the less-comfortable time when some children were held back because their home situations are distracting or their abilities are well below expectations. This will make neither those children nor their parents happier. It does reflect the reality that not every child is the same as every other.

There is plenty of evidence that our failings are deeply rooted: We are reinventing the English language because the majority cannot learn grammar; there is a common association between excelling at math or science and being unpopular; it is acceptable for organized sports and other unlikely careers to displace study time; it is acceptable to challenge a teacher who feels a child is misbehaving.

Until our society changes its attitude, no government program will effect real change.

Michael Treanor


Gov’t shouldn’t push contraceptives on teens

Contraceptives are offered free through the national health system in England, and they have the highest teen pregnancy rate in Europe.

Mounting evidence in several developed countries points to unplanned pregnancies increasing with higher access to contraceptives. On the other hand, policies that decrease access to contraception, and hence sexual activity, are likely to lower pregnancy rates in the long run.

The Department of Health and Human Services hopes to provide free contraceptives to the poor, but the poor have the highest contraceptive failure rates. For example, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, poor women 20 and under who use the pill have a 48.4 percent chance of getting pregnant in one year. The same girl using a condom has a 71.7 percent chance.

A study in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that with the use of hormonal contraceptives, condom use drops.

We are in the midst of a sexually transmitted disease epidemic, where one in four girls has a sexually transmitted disease or infection. It is well established that the pill increases a woman’s chance of getting an STI [sexually transmitted infection].

In 2005 the World Health Organization classified the combined estrogen-progestin birth control pill as the highest class of carcinogen. A congressional report released in July stated that abstinence programs are the “superior” approach to teen sex ed.

The government should stay out of the contraceptive business.

Joann Buff


Flawed flood buyback plan deserved to sink

I am glad the flood buyback proposal sank in Rotterdam [Oct. 11 Gazette]. The program would have hindered the redevelopment of Rotterdam Junction.

Town Board member Bob Godlewski tried to push the proposal through on the basis that 75 percent of the property’s purchase cost would be covered by the federal government (if certain requirements were met). But he failed to inform taxpayers that demolition costs would be paid by them — and that these properties would forever be off the tax rolls and could never be redeveloped again.

Rotterdam has seen unprecedented growth since Supervisor Harry Buffardi took over. At the board meetings I have attended, Mr. Godlewski, time and time again, tries to make it as unproductive as possible by interrupting and cutting off other board members.

What Rotterdam needs from Bob Godlewski is fewer proposals sought for political gain and more cooperation on the issues the town is facing.

Dan Garrow


No denying Mini Page message on warming

Within his brief Nov. 2 letter complaining about a Mini Page story on sugar maples that mentions global warming, Darrell Roeters manages to bring up a host of implications. Unfortunately, most of those implications are wrong.

First, Mr. Roeters suggests that referring to global warming must show a “political agenda.” But here in the 21st century, the only thing keeping climate change a “political” issue is that some politicians continue to deny its reality. And despite their hiding behind claims of “unsettled” science, there is in actual fact very broad agreement among scientists across this country, and throughout the world, that global warming is happening, is caused by humans, and has already started creating serious problems.

I agree with Mr. Roeters’ implication that it’s a harsh idea for children to face. But the sooner adults stop trying to dispute our impact on Earth’s climate in the face of over 50 years of consistent research and evidence — and start taking serious action to mitigate our impact — the more likely our children’s future will still include maple trees.

Daniel Hill


Four more years sliding toward mediocrity

It’s a sad day for America when 50 percent of the country votes to re-elect, in my view, the worst president since Jimmy Carter rather than giving Romney a chance to rebuild the greatest nation in the world.

Linda Knightes


Obama handled Libya attack poorly all around

How can it be that the Benghazi consulate scandal gets no coverage by the mainstream media? If it were not for Fox News, there would be almost no information on the circumstances surrounding the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans by al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.

The Obama administration is claiming they will find the guilty and bring them to justice. It has been seven weeks and little has been done. Post-9/11, the invasion of Afghanistan was accomplished in less than four weeks.

During the Benghazi fire fight, a couple of brave ex-SEALs repeatedly called for help, but no help was forthcoming, and they died from mortar fire eight hours after the consulate was first attacked.

For the longest time the administration claimed the attack resulted from spontaneous rage over an Internet video. Fox journalists have found out that the administration knew it was a terrorist attack within the first few hours from radio contact, e-mails and drone surveillance.

As with the Watergate scandal, post-election this incident will be fully investigated. But at least with Watergate, no one died.

Obama called on the SEALs and they got bin Laden. When the SEALs called Obama, they were ignored.

Bob Lindinger


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November 8, 2012
3:16 a.m.
janesjoys says...

Re: Linda Knightes - It's pretty difficult to accomplish anything when the main goal established by Republican Mitch McConnell, on inauguration day in 2009, was to ensure one term for President Obama, whatever the cost to the American people. However, our President did accomplish a lot. Let's hope that the obstructionist Republicans step up and change their ways and perhaps what you view as mediocrity will be replaced with actual bipartisan progress for this great country. Additionally, I am really pleased that all those billions of Republican dollars could not BUY this election!

November 8, 2012
3:21 a.m.
janesjoys says...

Re: Teen Contraception - The Alan Guttmacher Institute site also states "Without publicly funded family planning services, the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions occurring in the United States would be nearly two-thirds higher among women overall and among teens; the number of unintended pregnancies among poor women would nearly double.[13]" It also states that only 5% of unintended pregnancies occur in women who use contraception consistantly and correctly. Let's make sure that we supply eduction as well as contraception to our teens.

November 8, 2012
7:40 a.m.
wmarincic says...

It seems like all of those Billions of Liberal dollars DID buy the election. I hope those Republicans continue to follow the will of 50% of the country, that would be the 50% that work and pay taxes.

November 8, 2012
1:30 p.m.
J.D. says...

The correct stat is "cohabiting" youth have contraceptive failure rates that high.

November 8, 2012
1:32 p.m.
J.D. says...

janesjoys, it also states that 54% of unplanned pregnancies come from women using contraception. Marie Stopes (U.K. abortion provider) states that 21% of women experiencing unplanned pregnancies were using 2 or more forms of b.c. at the time they got pregnant.

November 8, 2012
1:34 p.m.
J.D. says...

Fact Sheet: Studies Show Greater Access to Contraception Does NOT Reduce Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion

Dr. David Paton, the head of the economics division of the Nottingham University Business School, is author of four major studies in this area and has found “no evidence” that “the provision of family planning reduces either underage conception or abortion rates.”

“The Economics of Family Planning and Underage Conceptions,”

Journal of Health Economics, 21.2 (March 2002): 207-225;

In one of his studies, Dr. Paton investigated the impact of family planning on teenage conceptions and abortions by testing data collected over a 14-year period from 16 regions in the U.K. The study “shows that greater access to family planning services in the United Kingdom fails to curb teen sex or abortion rates. The study also finds some evidence that greater access may actually increase underage pregnancy…”

“‟Family Planning‟ Fails to Reduce Teen Sex,” Human Events, April 8, 2002

K. Edgardh found that despite free abortions, free contraceptive counseling, low cost condoms and oral contraceptives, and over-the-counter emergency contraception (EC), Swedish teen abortion rates rose to 22.5 per thousand from 17 per thousand between 1995 and 2001.

Edgardh, K. et al. Adolescent Sexual Health in Sweden, Sex Trans Inf 78 (2002): 352-6,

available at

“Our results suggest that increasing access to contraception may actually increase long run pregnancy rates even though short run pregnancy rates fall. On the other hand, policies that decrease access to contraception, and hence sexual activity, are likely to lower pregnancy rates in the long run.”

Peter Arcidiacono et al., “Habit Persistence and Teen Sex: Could Increased Access

to Contraception have Unintended Consequences for Teen Pregnancies?”,

Plenty more where that came from:

November 8, 2012
1:38 p.m.
J.D. says...

Some abst. programs DO educate students about contraceptives,but they tell them the truth about them, and they do not promote them. Read the congressional report:

November 8, 2012
3:33 p.m.
gina99 says...

What about Obama's first 2 years JJ? He had super majorities in both houses. Right he pushed Obamacare not immigration reform, tax reform or anything else promised. Today we find out that Iran shot down a US drone in the Persian Gulf NOVEMBER 1st. Suppressed by a week by the Obama machine. When the truth finally comes out about Benghazi Obama would have trouble winning a town clerk job. In Watergate no one died.

November 8, 2012
5:20 p.m.
FrankLowe says...

Gina, everything you said is correct except your 5th sentence. Tuesday was evidence that Obama could be elected regardless of his actions. He has increased the national debt by 5 trillion dolars, unemployment is higher than when he took office, gas prices have doubled, the Soviet Union is once again saber rattling with nuclear attack subs sitting right off our coast, and on and on and on. He has proved himself to be by far the worst president ever. Yet, he was re elected. Unfortunately, with media cooperation, Benghazi will be a minor footnote. Most voters wouldn't even know what happened in Libya, or are aware of the ongoing cover up.
He couldn't run on his dismal record, so he, and his willing accomplices in the media demonized Romney, told lie after lie after lie, and the feeble minded masses believed it. His legacy will be food stamps, unemployment, destruction of the finest health care system on earth, unsustainable debt, and government intrusion and control of every part of our lives. And the next one like him who comes along will be elected because the takers now outnumber the makers. Those who choose not to work have been enabled by Obama and his like minded minions. These parasites will continue until they kill the host, us

November 8, 2012
9:59 p.m.
wmarincic says...

franklowe... Exactly right.

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