>Charter schools deserve 100 percent of funding
We have been subjected to the whining of the Buffalo Public Schools and the teachers union concerning the funding for charter schools for too long. The state allocates a predetermined amount of money per student to the public school districts. The district transfers approximately two-thirds of this money to follow a student to a charter school. The balance stays with the district.
If a student leaves the district or attends a private or parochial school, all of the allocation is lost to the home district. This is not disputed because the home district does not educate that student. However, if a student attends a charter school, one-third of the allocation is kept by the home district even though it doesn't educate that student.
The critics of this funding formula are correct that it is unfair. I propose that we even the playing field by awarding 100 percent of each student's allocation to the charter schools and award the home district nothing for students it doesn't educate.
Charter schools outperform district schools and I wonder how much better they would be if they received the full amount allocated by the state for each student. We must keep in mind that charter schools would not be necessary if the school district had been doing its job in the first place.
>Social Security freeze will hurt many seniors
As an 83-year-old senior citizen who has served the past 15 years as a volunteer, helping and assisting other senior citizens who are less fortunate, I can attest and confirm the dire and crucial need many of these people are faced with.
The cost of living, prescription drugs (not covered by Medicare), fees and taxes imposed to cover the governmental mistakes made by our politicians are just a few of the burdens inflicted, at the same time that Social Security is frozen.
The pathetic reaction to the whole situation is the fact that those being so badly treated had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of the problem. Most seniors do not have a choice of what they can or cannot do -- health is a big determining factor, and that is somewhat difficult to control.
It might be a good idea for some of our politicians to address the need of our senior citizens -- they are voters, too.
>Cut County Legislature and impose term limits
In a recent editorial regarding reform of the Erie County Legislature, The News stated that two questions regarding reformation of the Legislature should have been brought to the voters separately. County Executive Chris Collins called it an "incumbency protection plan." So, instead of a compound question involving two issues, a third should have been tacked on to the proposal. Term limits.
The 21st Century Commission did not recommend term limits, but this is no problem -- the Legislature has already disregarded the commission's recommendation of downsizing to eleven members, opting instead for thirteen. Our political system gives incumbents an electoral advantage to such a degree that the ballot box alone is not enough of a safeguard against unfair entrenchment.
The Legislature should be reduced to nine members, with nonpartisan redistricting. Terms of office should be expanded from two to four years. Election of legislators should be staggered so that there remains some continuity in every two-year election cycle. Legislators should be limited to a maximum of three four-year terms.
Such a reform package would reflect the realities of shrinking population, attract fresh faces to government, but also permit lawmakers to develop some experience and seniority.
Alan J. Bedenko
>Health care speech produces more questions than answers
Last week, President Obama addressed Congress on health care reform. Several questions occurred to me as I watched.
The president said that most of his plan's revenue requirements ($900 billion over 10 years) will come from savings generated by reducing waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid. If hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars can be saved by policing these programs, why isn't it being done?
For months, he has stated that he intends to insure the 47 million uninsured Americans. Right, left and center seem to agree that the number includes approximately 10 million illegal immigrants. Obama made it emphatically clear (for the first time) that his plan will not cover the illegals. If about 20 percent of the uninsured population has been cut from the proposal, why hasn't the cost estimate been reduced to match?
A public option to foster competition among insurers is favored by the president. At present, health insurance companies cannot do business across state lines. Why not eliminate the legal barriers preventing insurance companies from competing across the land, rather than inventing a new health care bureaucracy?
As we have come to expect from this president, there are more questions than answers.
>Pastors' stance ends joint worship service
I applaud the Rev. Larry Eastlack of Oakfield Methodist Church for having the moral courage to speak out in support of gay marriage in a letter to The Buffalo News. For someone in his position, it is exemplary.
Even Jesus knew that many people are willing to keep silent, for fear of being labeled or guilty by association.
The Rev. Mark Perkins and the Rev. Bill Smith and their so-called biblical stand effectively ended a 24-year joint worship service. One wonders if they stand behind everything the Bible has advocated in the past?
Look around the world and see the misery that simple failure to compromise brings. Is this part of God's plan? If some churches have attendance problems or difficulty reaching the masses, a look at some of their rigid conservative views might be appropriate.
>Bring soldiers home from senseless wars
We are now involved in the longest war in our history and are sending our young men and women to fight against overwhelming odds. These countries multiply rapidly, hence the insensitive use of human bombs.
We need to stop risking the future fathers of America in a senseless war. At age 90, I would like my grandchildren to enjoy some peace.