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Whatever became of Cuomo’s pledge to put state’s students first?

Thursday, January 9, 2014
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Whatever became of Cuomo’s pledge to put state’s students first?

The state of public education under the Cuomo administration is eerily akin to those “where are they now” TV shows.

One year ago, a headline in the Albany media proclaimed, “Cuomo touts school changes!” The article featured ideas from the Governor’s Commission on Education, a group of high-ranking business and education leaders and even some New York state legislators (http://www.governor.ny.gov/puttingstudentsfirst/bios) who were charged by the governor to set the agenda for education reform. However, a visit to the group’s website (http://www.governor.ny.gov/puttingstudentsfirst) leads one to believe that this group has gone the way of those long-ago TV stars.

In short, they are nowhere to be found. It makes one wonder what happened to the group and to the public dollars devoted to their work.

Additionally, the governor, in his State of the State speech in 2012, appointed himself the chief lobbyist for New York students, according to him the only group in education who do not employ lobbyists. It appears the governor has either lost interest in that position or is the quietest lobbyist in history.

In addition to his disappearing act in this area, the governor has had nothing to say about the teacher evaluation system he personally crafted, and he has been conspicuously absent from the fire storm surrounding implementation of the common core standards. Again, millions of public dollars have been devoted to these items. Where are they now?

It is time to stop hiding out and to admit that many mistakes have been made in the name of improving education. The common core implementation, teacher evaluation, funding for public education and related topics need to be moved to the front burner, and now. New York state still does not provide universal pre-kindergarten or full-day kindergarten programs in all schools.

If I were the lobbyist for New York students, I think I would start there. If we don’t, in about 13 years, we will be asking of this year’s pre-K class, “Where are they now?”

John Metallo

Slingerlands

The writer is a former school superintendant.

Letter writer reads too much into Constitution

Re Jan. 5 letter, “Don’t yield to Catholics on contraceptive care”: Frank Elfland attacks the Catholic Church on contraceptives by abusing the Constitution.

He says, “Restrictions on behavior is in no way the same thing as restrictions on religious philosophy.” What? Here’s a liberal who has decided the Constitution only allows you to think what you want (more specifically what he wants), but not do what you want.

Just to help those other misguided left-wingers, the Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It does not give you a right; it preserves your right.

It does not say nativity scenes must be banned. It does not say the word “God” must be eliminated from schools. It says Congress shall make no law. Period.

The words “free exercise” have meaning here as well. Elfland seems to think this clear, concise statement gives him and the government the right to regulate religion, from banning religious artifacts to the actual practice of religion.

Contrary to his bloviation and the Constitution, he and Obama are trying to impose their (law) philosophy on the church. The church is simply trying to protect its right to practice what it believes.

The last time I checked, the church was not taking prisoners. If anyone is illogical, it’s Elfland and the people that think like him.

Dave Dankanich

Rexford

Don’t give lawbreakers public pensions

Sara Foss’ Jan. 6 column [“Bad behavior is status quo for legislators”] hit a sour note for me.

How many times have we seen a legislator or someone on the taxpayer-funded payroll hastily resign the day before they are thrown out of office or convicted of some crime — but file for and get a taxpayer-funded pension? Worse, those pensions are protected from asset seizures regardless of the outcome of the malfeasance or crime.

It is high time that provision is changed to something akin to what they do in the military: pensions and services based on honorable discharge of duties. Taxpayer-funded pensions should be earned, just like the taxpayer-funded military pensions; so making good conduct (honorable discharge) [a requisite] for getting a taxpayer-funded pension is in order.

Now what the legislators do after getting their honorable discharge is up to them, but we should certainly put some teeth into reasons for legislators to behave.

Andrew M. Kopach

Rotterdam

Obamacare forces practice of amoral behavior

President Obama’s contraception, abortifacient mandate — an unlawful and unjust mandate — shows a government using power to promote amoral behavior.

Why have our political leaders denied the basic unchangeable rules of right and wrong?

Our Founding Fathers wrote a Constitution for a strictly limited government, specifically designed to deny human beings in government the authority to violate the rights of citizens or impose inordinate controls on their lives. Great minds such as Socrates or Plato, continually repeated in regard to morals that it is better to suffer injustice than to commit injustice.

It would be a grave injustice to force citizens to go against their moral beliefs.

Joanne Clough

Guilderland

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