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Great principals key to improving schools

The Dec. 18 News editorial regarding the Buffalo School District states in part, "Perhaps the most important players in improving education, though, are the principals who set the tone in their schools." As a retired Buffalo teacher, if there is one thing I learned in my 34 years, it is that the principal does indeed make all the difference in any school.

During that time I observed several truly visionary principals, many who were just adequate and unfortunately a couple who were grossly incompetent. I found that the particular pupils, a certain building, the parents and even the teachers are all of lesser importance than the principal.

A decade or more ago, the Buffalo principals were all given significant raises to justify their supposed increased responsibility for leading their schools to excellence. If certain members of that six-figure club are unable to fulfill that mission, they should be replaced by more capable persons. This, in my mind, is more sensible and far less disruptive than replacing at least half of the teachers, as has been proposed for the turnaround plan of several troubled schools.

Let those visionary principals, once they are found, lead their schools forward, but with less interference from the City Hall bureaucrats who share responsibility for the mediocre performance of certain schools.

Peter P. Schifferli



Attitude, policies cost Collins his job

Poor, poor Chris Collins. He can't believe that he lost his county job after devoting four years of hard work. Well, neither can the 900 people whose county jobs were banished under Collins' leadership. I, for one, spent 16 years giving my best to the county only to be eliminated out of the blue, and there are others who worked even more years.

Collins proudly acknowledges that he is responsible for the loss of 900 county jobs. Well, his policies and attitude cost him one more -- his own. At least Collins got a chance to fight for his job and now can publicly blame others for his loss.

Lauren Kennuth



Treatment of DeJac by state is appalling

It seems to me that the justice system is perpetrating a travesty against Lynn DeJac-Peters by making her go through a trial, and having to relive the agony of her daughter's death. The state made a mistake when it sent her to prison, robbing her of many years of her life.

Now, instead of simply agreeing to compensate her for those lost years, it is forcing her to revisit the gruesome details of the crime in court. Does the Attorney General's Office have no shame? No compassion? One wonders.

Sandy Low



Merger of pharmacies would benefit patients

Combining Express Scripts and Medco is an opportunity for two leading pharmacy benefit managers to apply private-sector know-how to solve our country's biggest health care challenge: lowering cost while raising quality.

By joining complementary strengths, the merger will benefit patients, employers and managed care plans, leading to safer and more affordable medicines.

PBMs play a central role in health care. We drive out fraud, waste and abuse while lowering costs and improving health outcomes. We increase adherence to prescribed medicines, identify and correct prescription errors and promote cost-effective delivery. Our efforts save billions of dollars and extend millions of lives. In New York alone over the next decade, PBMs will produce $86.1 billion in savings for employer plans plus $49.2 billion for Medicare Part D, according to the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.

By lowering health care costs for employers, we help boost employment and preserve employee benefits.

Neighborhood pharmacies have been and always will be essential partners in advancing our mission. More than 60,000 pharmacies of all sizes participate in our retail network, including 90 percent of all independent pharmacies.

Express Scripts and Medco have well-established histories of doing what's right for patients. The merger would accelerate our ability to do even more.

Steven Miller, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer

Express Scripts


Funding arts groups is good for economy

A round of applause to the Erie County Legislature for recognizing the myriad benefits the arts sector provides its citizens. Congratulations on adding $931,841 to the budget to help fund 37 arts and cultural organizations in the community.

Arts organizations and their audiences boost the city's economy because they purchase goods and services within the community, are involved in the marketing and promotion of the community's diverse offerings to tourists, generate government revenue and employ people locally. By any measure, a vibrant arts community supported with public dollars is good for both the city and its residents.

The County Legislature's action reinforces a core principle that we at Americans for the Arts have been espousing for years: a vibrant arts community is good for the economy.

Robert L. Lynch

President and CEO

Americans for the Arts


U.S. should have a way to destroy failed drone

Why is the government wasting time with a formal request for the return of the downed drone when it knows that will never happen? I can't believe we don't have the means and ability to have this destroyed as it sits, before Iran gets all the information it wants out of it. Iran says it brought the drone down. We say it malfunctioned. At this point, who cares? Destroy it. Otherwise, why not just mail Iran the plans?

Frank Maddock



Slaughter is working hard for this region

Rep. Louise Slaughter is the hardest-working member of Congress I've ever seen, so when The News seemed to imply otherwise with a story on voting records, I have to strongly disagree.

She has voted 95 percent of the time. And she's the same representative who this paper said "is right to not give up" on high-speed rail and a myriad of other issues: local landmarks, Title IX for girls sports, various health care issues, food safety and protection of the Great Lakes. The latest concerns the transparency of Congress in its own dealings with stock transactions.

She missed a few votes to be home for a family matter. That doesn't concern me. No one works harder for Western New York than Slaughter.

Robert W. Hellwitz