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Letter: Clarence needs to teach students ethics, respect

Clarence needs to teach students ethics, respect

Recently, an outrageous Clarence school budget with a 9.8 percent tax increase was voted down. This budget was of great concern to all Clarence residents. The behavior of school district employees was not only intimidating, but displayed a complete lack of disregard for anyone who opposed it. As a former teacher and senior citizen, I believe the most egregious act was the involvement of children to get a favorable vote.

Students were told to make sure their parents voted “yes” or their favorite programs would be gone. They wrote glowing compositions about their school and were encouraged to read them at public budget meetings; and their attempt at guilt toward taxpayers displayed an unprofessional “dog and pony” show effect. On the day of the election, students lined Main Street with “Yes” signs and shouts to anyone driving by. Eighteen-year-old students, who never paid a property tax in their life, were encouraged to vote yes. Furthermore, “Vote no” signs displayed by senior citizens were vandalized or removed. I spoke to parents who were opposed to the tax hike, but were afraid to voice their opinions for fear of retaliation toward their children. At the May 28 budget meeting, the audience booed a senior gentleman as he tried to speak on behalf of seniors.

Yet the fact of the matter is that teachers contribute only 8 percent toward their health care and administrators contribute nothing; and contributions to their hefty pensions are minimal. Many Clarence senior residents, as well as lower-income families, simply cannot afford an increase in property taxes so that Clarence staff members can have this luxury. Yet senior citizens were mocked for their efforts to defeat the budget by the same people who had everything to gain.

What happened in Clarence during the last few months was disgraceful, but the lack of professionalism displayed by staff members taught children an ugly lesson. Perhaps ethics and respect should be a major part of the core curriculum in Clarence Schools.

Ellie Corcoran