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Everybody's Column /Letters from our readers

Charter school success spurs traditional school progress

In his Sept. 11 column, Murray Light suggests that public funding for charter schools be curtailed because it will threaten the stability of public schools. He fails to consider why charters were instituted in the first place. Charters were established as an alternative to the gross failure of the NEA-influenced public education system.

The charter school initiative, if anything, could be the single factor that could turn around entrenched public schools. The system needs to embrace the lesson and challenge of this competitive element to spearhead meaningful reform. If such reform does not occur, then Light's argument is flawed. Why should funds be diverted from a successful charter system to a failing status quo?

He also points to criticism that in some states profit-making companies manage charters. Might they be profitable because, given a choice, consumers will choose the school with a better track record at educating?

Finally, Light claims he supports limited charter schools but that "they not be permitted to proliferate." Why does he favor even a limited presence? Could it be he is hedging his bet in light of the growing success and numbers of charter schools across the country?

Martin E. Mutka

Buffalo

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Cost of living is high for New York residents

The proposed Erie County property tax increase is 25 percent for 2006, 24 percent for 2007; school taxes are up (varies from each community, mine is going up 4 percent); tolls in New York are up 33 percent; National Fuel says increases of about 20 percent are expected; gasoline is up an average of 20 percent over last year; electric is one of the highest in the nation; and this is among the highest-cost areas for cigarettes. (Thank goodness I don't smoke.)

Did anyone get a 20 percent raise to compensate? I got 0 percent, my wife got a 4 percent cost of living raise. I can't see how the average family can make it in this county, or this state.

Jeff Sonnenberg

Grand Island

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Bush finally admits at least one mistake

While the news from Iraq has been uniformly bad, and President Bush's poll numbers continue to sag, the news of a natural disaster came at a time when the administration clearly needed an event to show it was up to the task. Instead, Bush presided over the negligent planning and the delayed rescue and aid efforts. When interviewed on "Good Morning America," the only message Bush offered was the hope that people don't play politics with the unfortunate predicament he has found himself in.

It had been known for years that the breach of levees was a distinct possibility. Perhaps if FEMA had been headed by a person more aware than Michael Brown, who admittedly was lacking in disaster experience, there would have been a plan, instead of stunning incompetence.

Brown is succeeded by David Paulson, who has emergency management credentials earned as head of the U.S. Fire Administration, with 30 years experience in this field. And Bush surprised everyone by admitting he had made a mistake. This is a first, and long overdue.

Richard A. Kamprath

Town of Tonawanda

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Snowbirds are being treated unfairly

I am writing in response to the Sept. 14 letter, "Post office is right to charge snowbirds for forwarded mail." This seems to me to be the year to "get the snowbird." Not only is the post office going to charge an excessive fee to forward mail for six months, but the Town of Perry has decided that it is fair to charge me a yearly fee of $140 for garbage pickup even though I live here only six months.

Oh, I can hear the grumbles: If they can afford to go South for the winter, they can afford these extra expenses. A little of the green-eyed monster? Well, I want to go on record as saying I think the post office's sign-up fee of $10 is outrageous. The weekly fee of $10 for the service is twice what it should be. I wouldn't mind paying the price of the actual postage, but the post office is greedy. My income is fixed.

I have the best of both worlds right now. Summers in Western New York and winters in Florida. I don't know how long I can enjoy this. At times, I feel like I am being nickeled and dimed to death.

Karen Gordon

Perry

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Youth sports coverage should be increased

I recently visited a relative in Georgia. While I was there, I noticed that in their newspaper they had an entire section for youth sports. I know the South is big on sports but I was still amazed, because here in Buffalo The News normally won't print anything below the high school level. Unless of course a team's equipment gets stolen, there are signs of racial tensions and vandalism or someone gets shot.

But there are so many more wonderful things going on in youth sports that need to be covered. Like the friendship bond created between teammates from a different race, our youths learning the concept of teamwork/leadership, coaches mentoring these kids and showing them other options to the streets and team moms helping kids with their homework and ensuring they get good grades.

I know negativity sells, but it would be so refreshing to one day open up The News and see an article or two on some youths who may have had an outstanding performance during the week, or see schedules and scores of Little League games. Our youths are our future, so let's show them more support by giving them more articles.

Louis Hawkins

Pop Warner Bills

Buffalo

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