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By Frank HerstekThe State Education Department’s Charter School Office seems to be playing a game of “Gotcha!” with local charter schools. It expects charter schools to perform at a certain level, but it has not defined that level or how schools should get there. Charter schools are trying to hit a moving target. When they miss the moving target, the Education Department c…

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It is possible, we suppose, to overstate the significance of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance at Carnegie Hall Wednesday night. Other orchestras have performed there – Albany’s and Baltimore’s also played this week – and it’s not even the BPO’s first stop on the famed stage on 57th Street. Doesn’t matter. This was very cool.Anyone who has attended a BPO con…

By Jim ManeyIf it hasn’t happened in your home already, expect the topic of gambling in this state to become a household topic across many New York homes very shortly. It’s no secret that Albany is interested in a constitutional amendment that would legalize casino expansion throughout the state. If this passes our Legislature, the future of casinos in New York comes down …

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As ugly and divisive as it was, the Buffalo School Board elections were only prelude. What follows may make the campaign seem mild by comparison, but it could also point the way toward improved performance by both the district and its students. That critical work has to happen.The work has begun many times before, of course, but it has never come close to delivering the so…

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The escalation of warfare in the Middle East is, if not predictable, at least hardly surprising. With it, the United States seems certain to be drawn deeper into the rebellion in Syria. President Obama should proceed cautiously yet firmly toward arming the rebels.The stakes rose globally over the weekend with air strikes by Israel inside Syria, reportedly aimed at disrupti…

By Lana D. Benatovich and Gary D. QuennevilleThe National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York (NFJC) is a human relations organization dedicated to overcoming racism, bias and discrimination by building understanding, respect and trust in our community. Founded as a chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the NFJC has worked for more than…

By Bill PhillipsThe Board of Regents’ recent decisions to close Community Charter School and propose Enterprise Charter School receive one more year to get it right give cause for both encouragement and concern.We’re encouraged by Albany’s drive to raise standards for all schools and hold charters accountable for academics. Seeing that Community was one of Buffalo’s worst-…

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The Peace Bridge has become a war zone. Paging Henry Kissinger …The sniping among members of the Peace Bridge Authority is fierce and unusual, and seems to have been instigated by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s insistence that there be real progress in rebuilding the U.S. plaza. We share that goal and presume that the authority does, as well.Beyond that, it’s hard to tell what is …

By Peter J. PittsMedicine is getting cheaper. That may come as a surprise amid handwringing about the spiraling cost of health care, but two new studies show that the amount of money Americans spend on prescription drugs went down in 2012 for the first time in decades.The reason for this welcome development is an influx of generic medications. The research behind a new dru…

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Western New Yorkers have become all too familiar with the horror of animal abuse over the past year. One dog was set on fire, another mercilessly beaten – kicked, apparently – and left to die, its jaw broken.While these crimes are shocking, they are only the ones the public knows about. Dog fights are common here. So are cock fights. People involved in animal cruelty are l…

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We have endured decades of talk about moving the Williamsville toll barrier on the Thruway to a spot east of the heavily traveled commuter corridor. The Thruway Authority promised years ago to move the toll barrier and has spent millions of dollars studying a new location. Now, however, Thruway officials have spun the discussion into the need to create a toll plaza of the …