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D'AMATO'S 'MAGICAL' SCHOOL DAYS ARE AN ILLUSION

In a recent "In the Debate," the ethically challenged Sen. Al D'Amato weighs in on education, suggesting renewable tenure and the firing of teachers not prestidigitating up the "magic" his father enjoyed as a boy.

This from the lickspittle of the rich who, along with his fellow lackeys -- politicians,Regents, school boards and administrators -- works to weaken and worsen the public schools.

Of course the rich want vouchers, inclusion of learning-disabled students, a 100 percent graduation rate, outcome-based education, non-traditional grading, no retention in grade and the keeping of violent pupils in school. These "progressive" items benefit their own children, who enjoy private schools, by degrading public schools.

"Magic?" In D'Amato's father's day, only 50 percent of students graduated from high school. Failure was allowed but not rewarded. The incapable or unwilling dropped out. The best remained. Today, 90 percent graduate -- but not because 40 percent more are capable and willing.

Those now failing to learn are not "held back." Over teachers' objections, they pass and pass until, arriving in some June as witless seniors, they graduate because administrators pressure teachers to pass them, though they've often failed to fulfill state requirements.

Predictable failures in the real world but with diplomas in hand, these ignoramuses then become the whips for politicians to flog teachers for their incompetence, and the public schools get more black eyes.

But "all Regents" will change things, D'Amato says. Ha! The state Education Department now scurries to water down exams so the uneducated will succeed. Pressure on teachers to lower standards continues.

D'Amato demands renewable tenure to purge incompetent teachers. What renewable tenure teacher would dare write this letter to a newspaper or say to an administrator, "This pupil did little work all year, is disruptive, has a filthy mouth and should not graduate," though the child is the daughter of the school board president?

Tenure provides that a teacher may be fired for cause: incompetence, moral turpitude and insubordination. Under renewable tenure, could a teacher be fired for failing to create "magic" or for trying to give poor kids an even break?

BRIAN F. WOOD Buffalo

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