January 26, 2013

Letters to the Editor: Jan. 26, 2013


---- — Donations needed

TO THE EDITOR: The new year brings us fully into the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the national spotlight.

“Murray’s Raid” of 200 summers ago caused destruction in Plattsburgh and a cancellation of worship Sunday, Aug. 1,1813, for Presbyterians, according to church records.

Zebulon Pike’s empty U.S. Army cantonment was completely burned in that raid, its site lost to history. But recently, Battle of Plattsburgh Association’s Keith Herkalo has done the research leading to archaeological identification of its location and its future monumentation.

Now BOPA, Presbyterians and others determined to preserve our history are joining to restore the sadly deteriorating 1838 gravesite of Rev. Frederick Halsey in Riverside Cemetery.

Halsey came here in 1795 to be the first resident pastor of this first church; he started the first school in a building near his house; and he became chaplain to the 8th Regiment of Militia under his neighbor, Col. Thomas Miller. His house stands just west of the monument to a bloody Sept 5, 1814, skirmish with the advancing British army. His grave is close to that of George Downie, commander of the defeated British navy on that historic Sept. 11th.

The National Society of DAR is offering matching grants to which we are applying. We must raise $2,500 by Feb. 1 to match the DAR’s $2,500 for the $5,000 repair cost and are asking for your timely contribution to this cause.

Checks can be made out to Battle of Plattsburgh Association, with the note “for Halsey gravesite,” and mailed or taken to BOPA, 34 Washington Road, Plattsburgh, NY 12903.

Phone 566-1814 to use VISA, Mastercard or Discover credit cards.


Former city historian



Re-examining education

TO THE EDITOR: There was a story about Commissioner King’s visit to the North Country and the story made it clear that he was pleased with what he saw at schools.

The problem is that what makes Commissioner King, Gov. Cuomo and the big money behind them happy is not what is good for children or for public education.

Our schools have been turned into test-prep factories and children learn that the way to be successful is to keep their mouths closed, to complete worksheet after worksheet and to pass meaningless tests. There is no room for student interests, curiosities or concerns. There is no time; we have to practice for the tests.

This approach is good for politicians; it sounds like they are doing something for education. It’s very good for testing companies, who are making millions and more. But is it good for children, does it help them to think critically, to deal with the messy, unpredictable real world they are growing into? Does it help them to evaluate information, to question what is presented to them?

There is no research to suggest that it will, and there is a great deal of research to suggest it won’t. We are instead educating children who are learning to do what they are told, to not question and to have others tell them whether they are good enough.

Many teachers and administrators are torn apart by what they are being forced to do and are rightly afraid to say anything for fear of being disciplined or fired. So, they continue to lie, to carry out this program of non-stop testing and then they try to sleep at night.




Share opinions

TO THE EDITOR: For those of us who believe some restrictions on guns make a lot of sense, it’s time to speak up.

We’ve got to make our voices heard or else it will appear we agree with some of the fanatical ideas of the NRA. 

If you believe a ban on assault weapons does not impinge upon anyone’s “right to bear arms,” contact your representatives and senators and tell them so. (Why should any citizen, hunter or self-defense advocate need to own a military assault gun?) Tell your elected officials you want them to vote for that ban and certain other common-sense laws, like a national or statewide database, background checks to buy bullets — anything among the proposals you’d like to see take effect.

But they need to hear from you. Otherwise, if you, like me, haven’t been contacted by the Pew Research Center for your views, you and the politicians will continue to hear that a majority of people share the NRA view.

An old bumper sticker used to read, “I belong to the NRA — and I vote.” Well, I don’t belong to the NRA, and I vote, too.

Every Sunday, the Press-Republican prints on its Editorial page, “Your voices in government,” a list of New York’s Congress with all their contact information. Use it to reach those voices: Call them, write them, email them or fax them, but speak out.

The more of us who tell our representatives we want sensible gun laws (just like motor-vehicle laws), the more power they will have to make meaningful change. But we have to let them know we’re behind them.