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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Don't blame teachers for terrible behavior

I am a Buffalo teacher and a Buffalo Teachers Federation Executive Committee member. I am writing in response to the article, "Dozens take district to task over suspensions."

Suspensions are not given for minor offenses and primarily to "students of color." There are rules of behavior for students. If they disobey these rules, whether the child is white, black or purple, rich or poor, there are consequences. Cellphone use, tardiness, destroying school property, bringing in weapons, wandering the halls, swearing and fighting are not just minor offenses. I have witnessed a child saying, "get off my d---" after being politely asked to sit down, a student screaming, "what the f--- are you looking at" to a teacher, texting to arrange fights and lavatory destruction. Despicable!

Students are not "kicked out of school and put into the streets." There is protocol and behavior modification plans. Work is given to suspended students. There is not "a lack of black history taught in the schools." Black history is integrated into our entire curriculum. Black History Month is also celebrated. There are not "too few black teachers." Students should behave for and learn from any teacher, regardless of color. There is no place for racial bias and bigotry.

Parents must take responsibility for their children. Children are "dying in the streets" not because of teachers, but because of poor parenting. Know where your children are at all times. Ten-year-old children should not be out roaming the streets at midnight. Insist on proper bed times so that your children can make it to school on time. Read to them. Make sure that they complete their homework. Attend meetings even if they are "not on the bus line." Find a way to be an integral part of your child's life. Parent your children!

Alison Hall



Troublemakers disrupt those who want to learn

Let's stop blaming the teachers and administrators for the high number of suspensions. The schools, including their teachers and administrators, can only do so much. A student's level of behavior is not controlled by the school, the teacher or the subject. The student alone controls how he or she will behave in the classroom and in the school.

My wife and I both taught for more than 30 years. In those years we had many great and hardworking students with all sorts of cultural differences. We also had our fair share of disruptive students who also had all sorts of cultural differences.

One thing that stood out in our 30 years is that when, in most cases regardless of cultural differences, students had family support and were expected to do well by their parents, they usually did. They had been taught respect for teachers and their fellow students and the need for a quality education. They had a desire to learn and wanted to succeed.

When there was little or no interest from home for success and no respect for the schools, these students often became the discipline problems the teachers and schools had to deal with. Let's face it, most of the students mirror the attitudes and beliefs they hear and see at home.

Maybe instead of worrying about the disruptive students who are being suspended, some quite regularly, we should worry about the good, hardworking students who are being deprived a decent education by these disruptive and uninterested students. A student can't learn when a lesson is constantly being interrupted. Quite often, a suspension is the only way to remove a problem from the classroom, and the school, so that those who want to learn and succeed can do so.

Al Heiss

West Seneca


Like it or not, we're all in this together

Bravo and yes to the Jan. 13 letter regarding negative reactions to the paid college tuition program for Buffalo Public School children. It is so good to hear from someone who can see beyond jealousy and tuition dollars. In addition to all of the excellent points in his letter, I would add a couple more.

Recently I heard excerpts from a speech given in Los Angeles. The speaker asked what people expect from children when you put them in a petri dish of poverty, hopelessness and violence. In other words -- is it not better to try to help children when the expenses are less and the rewards greater than to pay the personal or public price we pay when those children are adults who resort to crime because it is all they have learned? Also, would you rather have a Buffalo child go off to college at age 18 or drop out at 16 and add to our crime statistics?

To those who live in the suburbs and feel cheated because they or their children have to pay their own college expenses, I ask only a few questions. First: Do you want to live on some of our worst streets, raise your children there and try to survive there in order to get free tuition for your child? Second: Who needs a helping hand for college expenses more -- a child who may have one parent in the home, lacks adequate nutrition and never saw a book in his home, or a child who has college-educated parents or at least a parent who provides an enriching environment in which the child can thrive? Third: Did any of us choose where or to whom we were born?

Like it or not, we are in this together; city impacts suburbs. The child you help today may be the child who manages to make it out of the petri dish.

Carolyn Kirsch



Too many people expect a free ride

I need to respond to the woman who supports free college tuition for Buffalo Public School students.

When I was young, my four siblings and I were preparing for college. We had two parents -- mother and father -- in the home, and one income. Money was very tight. We were not handed an education. We were expected to get part-time jobs to help pay tuition costs. It made us respect what our parents did for us, and gave us a sense of pride, because we had helped ourselves accomplish the goal of receiving that college diploma.

My children live in the suburbs, with both parents working to support the family. Money is also very tight. Their children are not offered college tuition, nor do they think they are entitled. But are they any less deserving?

When do we stop the enabling? When do people stop taking government assistance and start taking responsibility for themselves and their families? Our welfare system is already out of control. And now we are going to offer free tuition?

The more you sit back and receive, the easier it becomes to take, and, unfortunately, that's the legacy you pass on to your children and they to their children. Where is the self-esteem?

Virginia Konieczko



Voter fraud is not a big problem here

I would like to comment on the letter from a reader attacking Leonard Pitts' recent column on required voter IDs in South Carolina. The writer says the poor "only have to go to the State Office Building and get a free ID."

Does the writer not realize that the State Office Building in South Carolina is in Columbia, hundreds of miles from most of the state's largest cities? In a state similar in size to New York, that's like saying to the poor in Buffalo they "only" need to go to the State Capitol in Albany for their free ID. Is New York going to pay the poor's gas and tolls (or bus fare) it would take to get to Albany? I think not. Some "free" ID.

Also, in attempting to prove "rampant" voter fraud, the writer cites alleged fraud in a presidential election from 52 years ago. Is that the most recent example the writer can find? Maybe not such a major problem in this country after all.

William P. Blum Jr.



Getting 'free' ID is no simple task

On Jan. 16, Everybody's Column featured a letter headlined, "Poor voters in Carolina would get free state ID." Let's use the Internet to see just how much a "free" voter ID would cost.

According to the South Carolina government website, you need three documents. First would be a certified birth certificate. If you do not have one, there is a $12 nonrefundable charge to search the state records. If your mother was barred from a Jim Crow hospital in 1950s South Carolina, you may have been born in a sharecropper's shack and the search may be unable to find a record. If your birth was recorded, then certified copies cost $3 each. So there is $15 worth of "free."

The second document you will need is a Social Security card. The Social Security Administration will replace a missing card free. All you need do is fill out an application and include photo ID as proof of identity. You can get a free photo ID as long as you have a photo ID to prove you are entitled to one. Joseph Heller had a name for this in 1961, "Catch-22."

Until 1965, states disenfranchised those who threatened the entrenched political structure by employing a poll tax or a literacy test or, in many cases, physical violence. They did not want these uneducated people voting to change the lifestyle of their state.

Finally, let us remember that this law was passed with greater support from the Republican members of the Senate and House (94 percent and 82 percent, respectively) than the Democratic Party (73 percent and 78 percent). Perhaps the Republicans' later adoption of the Southern Strategy to gain power has led them to regret that morally righteous stand on this injustice.

Martin Besant

East Aurora


Dish, Time Warner should join forces

After following the status of negotiations (or the lack thereof) over the past couple of weeks between Time Warner Cable and the MSG Network, I find it interesting that there has been no mention that subscribers to the Dish Network are in their second Sabres season without being able to view the games. While I sincerely sympathize with subscribers to Time Warner, why hasn't there been any support to those of us who have Dish Network?

I would think that in an effort to exert additional leverage on MSG to renegotiate with the interest of the Sabres fans in mind, identifying Dish subscribers as being in the same situation would add weight to the argument. To the best of my knowledge, the stalement with Dish Network is on the same financial platform as what Time Warner is dealing with. If that is the case, Time Warner subscribers may be in for a long drought between hockey games on TV.

Please consider including Dish Network subscribers to the list of victims in this tug-of-war between these TV programming companies.

Jim Everett



We can't endanger our water supply

After watching "Gasland" and "The Price of Gas," my question is simple. What will we do if water becomes so contaminated with chemicals and gas that it no longer has the capacity to extinguish fire?

JoAnn Tenebra

Niagara Falls