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Many students doing well in Buffalo Public Schools

I would like to speak to the good things happening in the Buffalo Public Schools. Contrary to popular belief, we have thousands of students who do graduate, many with honors and with thousands of dollars in scholarships. We have dedicated students who come to school every day. We have students who have worked together for the common good, who have spearheaded fundraisers, book drives and canned food drives. We have students who are published, who are wonderful artists, musicians, dancers, athletes and leaders.

I worked for many years in a school now labeled as "low achieving." I had amazing and intelligent students who were driven and successful. With all of the media hype, it may be difficult to believe that there are any successful students graduating from Buffalo schools.

My 16 years of teaching in this district tell me otherwise, as I have had the pleasure of watching thousands of successful and capable young adults walking across the stage, receiving their diplomas and moving on to become successful and contributing members of society. This will continue with or without a new teacher evaluation plan and with or without additional Race to the Top funding.

Dedicated teachers will continue to teach with limited resources just as we have done for many years, and dedicated students will continue to graduate and find success after high school.

Kelli Monaco-Hannon



Devise a floating rate with cap on interest

I don't understand the doubling of student loan rates to 6.8 percent when the prime rate is only 3.25 percent, the 10-year Treasury is less than 4 percent and a 30-year mortgage is also less than 4 percent. It seems that a doubling will create more defaults and the government will get even less revenue.

My son went through medical school and racked up $80,000 in student loans and has since paid it off. If it wasn't for low interest rates associated with the loans, he would have had a difficult time paying it off. Perhaps the politicos could devise a floating rate tied to the prime rate or LIBOR rate with a cap of say 6 percent. That way, graduated students would be more able to pay off their loans as their income gradually increases.

Ronald Frank



IDAs must stop giving away taxpayers' money

I read The News article about real estate and businesses relocating and working hand in glove with the industrial development agencies; being recipients of their giveaway policies.

I cannot tell you how angry and disgusted the IDAs make me. Whoever gave them the right to arbitrarily give tax breaks? This policy must be rethought toward rescinding these agencies. It seems they are giving tax breaks to anyone who asks, and each time one is granted my tax bill must increase a bit to make up the difference. One example is Carl Paladino. He does not need to be granted breaks; he is a multimillionaire. Come to think of it, such gall to even ask.

Lately the IDAs have been giving breaks to physicians, hotels, restaurants, car companies and liquor establishments that have enough money to locate wherever they want to be. They do not need these breaks. IDA stands for industrial development agency. Where do you see any "industry" in the above-mentioned business types?

How dare they continue to cause the hardworking and struggling citizens to sacrifice for the benefit of business! Businesses are supposed to sink or swim on their own. When will this nonsense stop? The above businesses do not create enough jobs to make any breaks they receive worthwhile. For a short moment, my hopes rose when Amherst Supervisor Barry Weinstein made some noise about not giving IDA monies away, but then he came around to the business way of thinking. Shame! When will we citizens ever wake up and say, "no more"?

Evelyn Malone



Our country has too many trigger-happy young men

This is a brief response to Leonard Pitts' column titled "Race and criminality." The only point I want to make about Pitts is simple: He seems to spend most of his time writing about race, almost to the point of obsession. He purports race was the rudimentary motivator in the Trayvon Martin case. I'd like to propose an alternative theory. Pitts concludes his article with, "Trayvon Martin was killed by a stereotype. George Zimmerman is just the guy who fired the gun."

I fundamentally disagree. Trayvon wasn't killed because he was African-American and suspicious looking. Trayvon was killed because we have a bunch of overzealous, trigger-happy young males in our society. A bunch of want-to-be tough guys. Sanford, Fla., has a crime rate that's above the national average, and neighborhood watches attempt to mitigate crime. That's fine. The problem is discretion. The problem is lack of experience.

I am a former combat infantryman with the Marine Corps who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Combat is not glorious; rather it's violent and brutal and destructive. My advice for the want-to-be tough guys out there: Go throw on 80 pounds of gear and patrol the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, or go join the UFC and fight Anderson Silva or Jon Jones.

David Thomas



Take steps to bring people back to God

I read with interest an article in the May 6 News, "Religiously unaffiliated soar in area." According to William Hendricks and others, 53,000 devout believers leave their churches weekly for good to find a closer walk with God. The historical churches had as their focal point the altar rails. They were filled after every service as people communed with God.

Those altar rails are now mostly gone, replaced by guitars, amps, cables, jumbo video screens and kids leading singing. Worship is not about singing songs, it is about glorifying God, during the week as well as on Sunday morning. True worship should be led by the most theologically aware adults in the church.

We are at a time in this nation's history like no other. We are losing on every side, yet the church leaders are still smiling, downloading messages from the Internet and missing the chance to compel people to turn back to God for real. Where are the leaders who have been with God? A serious message might send many running for the exits, but the ones remaining could turn this country around with their worship and prayers.

We have never needed to hear the voice of God like we do now, so why are our services so noisy? Isn't it time to be still -- mind, body and spirit -- and let God build his church? He told us that his house is to be a house of prayer; alas it seem more focused on entertainment.

Ronald Wilson

East Amherst