Don’t get carried away lengthening kids’ time in school

Thursday, January 17, 2013
Text Size: A | A

Don’t get carried away lengthening kids’ time in school

Re Gov. Cuomo’s and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s proposals for lengthening the school day, and school year [Jan. 12]. How would they like someone to tell them that their job will now be extended 300 hours a year?

What are they thinking? These are children we are talking about, our children. Don’t we get any say in this monumental decision that will affect our kids, as well as our families?

As a mother of four boys, with a background in education, I speak from experience when I say that children need time just to be children. They shouldn’t have every waking moment regimented. They are not miniature adults, nor are they computers to be programmed.

This proposal would be an infringement on our family time.

Also, children can only absorb so much in a day. They cannot be expected to keep pace with an adult schedule that even exhausts us! Have so many in the education system forgotten what it’s like to be a kid? How long can they expect to keep a 6-year-old’s nose in a book? Should children be coming home when it’s near dark, with little time to play before dinner, homework and bed?

Some parents may like this idea because they would not have to pay for a babysitter. But the schools were never meant to replace the home for the main job of raising kids, which belongs to the parents! I believe that schools could do more to get parents and extended families to participate in their children’s education. Studies show that the best way for a child to learn is not so much what is “taught,” but what is “caught.” That’s why parental involvement is so important.

For those unfortunate enough not to have the backing they need from home, extra help can be supplemented in after-school programs. My son stays after when he needs extra help, and that is fine; but staying extra time should not be mandatory.

As far as summer vacation goes, voluntary enrichment classes are great, but many children use the extended vacation time to go camping, visit relatives, get valuable work experience, take family vacations and find other interests. How can they be expected to concentrate in a stifling hot classroom during July and August?

In the school district I live in, most of the kids do well and have no problem on their test scores. I know that many people would agree with me when I say that too much emphasis is being put on those tests, and not enough on our children’s overall development and well-being.

I haven’t even mentioned how much this would all cost, but I shake my head at the thought.

Janet Mueller


Second Amendment be damned, ban all guns

In my opinion, there is no entity more directly responsible for the tragic shootings at the Newton, Conn., elementary school than the National Rifle Association.

The key element in this tragedy, as it was in the tragedies at Virginia Tech, Columbine, etc. was, and is, the easy access in our society to assault weapons and semiautomatic weapons of all sorts — especially handguns; access the NRA has lobbied in favor of for decades. These weapons have no purpose other than the destruction of human life, and there is no justification for any private citizen to own them.

As to the ridiculous invoking of the Second Amendment as justification for citizens owning these weapons, I view this amendment as anachronistic in our present society. Citizens should have the right to own non-semiautomatic rifles for hunting, but ownership of all other weapons, including handguns, should be prohibited by a revision of the Second Amendment.

Do gun proponents really believe that the only thing that stands between us and the takeover of our society by a despotic government is our right to own Bushmaster assault weapons? That notion is utterly and totally absurd.

So what should be done? The only effective way to dramatically reduce killings such as occurred in the Newton elementary school is to outlaw not just future sales of semiautomatic weapons, handguns, etc., but their very possession. That would require the government to initiate a mandatory buyback of these weapons and [impose] truly stiff penalties for those who did not comply.

As noted in the Jan. 6 Viewpoint by Steve Keller, Australia had the political will to do just that after a mass killing in 1996. Since then, Australia has had no mass killings and firearm homicides dropped 59 percent. It works!

Can we do that here? Sadly, I fear not. The NRA is too powerful and too pernicious. Still, we should do everything we can do regarding gun control.

John Vohr


Weaver’s message the right one on abortion

Daniel Weaver’s Jan. 13 opinion, “Decision for a lifetime,” was a poignant look at one life saved. He shared a personal story of how he stepped in to give his sister the support she needed to not abort her baby.

Years later, he met his niece, her husband, children and adoptive parents; an extended family that would not have existed had Mr. Weaver’s sister gone through with the abortion.

Juxtapose that with the front-page article, “Change in abortion law under scrutiny,” where Tracey Brooks, president and CEO of Family Planning Advocates, is quoted as saying she is “thrilled” with the news that women can now seek abortions past 24 weeks’ gestation, paving the way for unfettered “late-term” abortions.

Please, learn from Mr. Weaver’s personal story. If you are pregnant and don’t know where to turn, call your county Birthright. If you know of a family member or friend who is distraught over an unplanned pregnancy and is contemplating abortion, step up and offer your help and support in whatever way you can.

Give the mother hope and the baby a chance at life.

Angela Caraher


The writer is the pastoral associate for Intergenerational Faith Formation at Our Lady of Fatima.

Transfer guards from existing jobs to schools

In media coverage of the “meaningful conversation” our lawmakers have had about Newtown, Conn., I have heard the phrases, “protect our children,” and “if it would save just one life...” I have also heard the ridicule of the NRA’s suggestion that we put armed guards in every school.

May I offer the following idea, since I haven’t heard it in the conversation: Take every armed guard from every courthouse and legislative chamber in the country and move them to as many elementary schools as we can, and don’t publicize where they are.

There would be no spending of money we don’t have, and maybe the “bad guys” would reconsider where and how they will commit their mass murders. This could work unless the “just one life” really just depends on whose life it is.

Gregory P. Hovak


Letters Policy

The Gazette wants your opinions on public issues.

There is no strict word limit, though letters under 200 words are preferred.

All letters are subject to editing for length, style and fairness, and we will run no more than one letter per month from the same writer.

Please include your signature, address and day phone for verification.

For information on how to send, see bottom of this page.

For more letters, visit our Web site:

Share story: print print email email facebook facebook reddit reddit


January 17, 2013
7:40 a.m.
wmarincic says...

John Vohr, I find you're letter offensive and I believe that we should ammend the 1st ammendment, the right to free speech. I feel that if you are not educated enough to know that the 2nd ammendment is to protect us and keep us free, then you should not have the freedom to write this letter. It sounds ridiculous doesn't it? Guess what? Take away the 2nd ammendment and the 1st ammendment and all of the other articles of the "Bill Of Rights" will soon follow. By then I expect that you will wish you had a gun.

January 17, 2013
8:55 a.m.
justapto says...

Banning assault rifles is logical. Otherwise; everyone should be able purchase m-60 machine guns, grenade launchers, mortars and all the ammunition that goes along with them.
If owning guns is reasoned because it prevents the government from taking over the citizenship; then the citizens should own competing weapons of size and destruction.
Your AR-15 won't match up against the weapons the military currently utilizes.
Think about it.
Criminals, mentally ill and pretend 'citizen militia' own these weapons for no use other than to kill innocent people. That and to go into the woods and shoot down small trees.
I am a combat veteran, own multiple hunting 'guns' but see no good use for civilians to 'Play Rambo'.

January 17, 2013
9:32 a.m.
cfield says...

These laws are terible. Aside from turing law-biding citizens into criminals they do nothing to fix a problem. I hate to say it but this is all a moot point. You live in NY. This should come as no suprise. Unless they went too far away from what the state can legally do or ignored the constitution it's done and over with. I don't care if it was debated for 2 years the vote would be the same. There are more people in NY that don't like guns than people that do..It's that simple. The representive form of governmet worked. People voted anti-gun people in. So you get anti-gun laws out. I think we should be happy they didn't tell us all we can have is a black powder musket since that was the rifle of the time. Feel free to vent but other than that the simple truth is we are outnumbered... Welcome to NY.

January 17, 2013
1:41 p.m.
bostonredsoxfan says...

wmarincic- There is significant historical evidence to suggest that the 2nd Amendment's primary purpose was not about keeping us free, but, instead, about keeping others enslaved. Keeping us safe could, perhaps, be seen as one of the reasons, but it was not safety from foreign enemies or a tyrannical government - it was safety from a slave revolt. You can read more here:

January 17, 2013
1:59 p.m.
biwemple says...

In probably less than 50 years from now, the military will likely be using a lot more directed energy weapons (lasers, EM rail-guns, etc)- basically the stuff of sci-fi movies today instead of small-arms. This technology was already starting to be developed & tested in the 80's at White Sands when I was in the Army then, so its only a matter of time. When this happens will citizens be clamoring that they should also possess these for self-defense and sporting purposes too? Seriously, where does it end?

Control your government at the ballot box instead of showing constant apathy and re-electing the same manipulative borderline sociopaths and do-nothings, then complaining that our system is so dysfunctional to its citizens. Do that and the Second Amendment will become about as necessary as the Third.

January 17, 2013
3:02 p.m.
janesjoys says...

biwemple - you got my vote!
bostonredsoxfan - I really appreciate your continued efforts, but truth is not what wmarincic wants.

January 17, 2013
7:04 p.m.
wmarincic says...

Certainly not you're wacked out kind of truth Jane. God forbid I become like you.

January 17, 2013
7:12 p.m.
wmarincic says...

Boston, I did not know that part of history and I tried to find the original 1st draft of the 2nd ammendment that replaced "Country" with "State". If you can find a link please share it with me.

January 17, 2013
8:13 p.m.
bostonredsoxfan says...

Here's one source:
You'll find the 2nd Amendment reference in the left column, toward the bottom.

January 18, 2013
7:46 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Thanks Boston for finding that.

January 18, 2013
9:02 a.m.
bostonredsoxfan says...

I also found this article interesting:

What becomes clear from digging around in all of the debate among the founders as they formed the constitution is that there is a great deal of ambiguity in regard to their intent, and that intent varied greatly among individuals. In short, their is nothing clear about the reasoning or intent behind the 2nd Amendment, no matter what anyone on either sides says.

January 18, 2013
12:27 p.m.
robbump says...

John Vohr - too many people are killed over religion by guns, swords, axes, and anything else that can be used to injure, maim or kill.

Maybe we can remove religious freedom from those pesky constitutional rights too? Anything else? </sarcasm>

Log-in to post a comment.

columnists & blogs

Log into

Forgot Password?