April 22, 2013

Letters to the Editor: April 22, 2013


---- — Refusing tests

TO THE EDITOR: Refusing the current New York state standardized test is a means of taking control of our children’s education.

Changes to Common Core Curriculum and APPR teacher evaluations are reasons for uproar. Parents need to say no to 2013 Common Core testing for anything to change.

In my opinion, Pearson is profiting by prematurely selling these exams to school districts without ample time for the state to implement the changes in curriculum, and the New York State Education Department is bullying districts into administering these high-stakes exams anyway.

Enough corruption by Pearson, businessmen and politicians! Put our education back in the hands of educators.

New York has expanded these high-stakes tests to 90 minutes per day over six days to accommodate for an unprecedented number of field questions (higher than any other state). As parents, along with teachers, we know the struggle and stress this puts on our children and the added stress on children with special needs.

The state testing program flows from the expired No Child Left Behind Act. Our children need a creative learning environment to maintain their love for learning.

Our children’s test anxiety is at an all-time high. High-stakes tests are now tied to promotion of our children (or demotion), teacher evaluations and school report card grades. How can we measure a teacher or student based on a standardized multiple-choice test?

I am asking parents and community members to help improve teaching and learning opportunities for our children. We, as parents, need to change the stakes.

Despite what you may have heard, you have the right to refuse these tests on behalf of your children. If you don’t advocate for your child, who will?




Tobacco marketing

TO THE EDITOR: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on March 18 that he is sending legislation to the City Council that would ban stores from being able to openly display tobacco products.

This is not the first law to be put forward on this initiative. In April 2012, the Village of Haverstraw in Rockland County passed the first law in the United States that would regulate tobacco displays in retail stores.

Unfortunately, seven tobacco manufacturers and the New York Association of Convenience Stores fought the display regulations and filed a federal lawsuit against Haverstraw. To avoid the risk of incurring hefty legal fees to fight the lawsuit, the village rescinded the law.

As Mayor Bloomberg points out, the tobacco companies are targeting youth with their packaging and displays, and they have been very successful in doing so. Ninety percent of current adult smokers started smoking at or before the age of 18 and 99 percent by the age of 26. Research shows that kids who shop at stores with tobacco marketing two or more times a week are 64 percent more likely to start smoking than their peers who don’t.

There may be other factors that contribute to youth smoking, but marketing has a direct link, and it’s something our communities can do something about.

We congratulate Mayor Bloomberg on his forward thinking and desire to protect our youth. The initial reaction will undoubtedly be similar to smoking bans in restaurants and bars.

These policies have been shown significant negative impacts on those businesses. It has become the norm now, and in time, we are hoping that display bans and not smoking where our children can be exposed to it will also become the norm.


Senior public health educator

Clinton County Health Department

Adirondack Tobacco Free Network


Gasoline prices

TO THE EDITOR: Guess what, drivers in Plattsburgh? Gas prices in Keeseville are $3.79 to $3.77 for a gallon of regular gasoline.

On a drive around Plattsburgh, my wife and I noticed gas prices in Plattsburgh range from $3.97 to $3.92 a gallon for regular.

When I made a comment about the price difference between Keeseville and Plattsburgh, my wife replied, “It is the cost of transportation; that is a great distance to travel.”

My reply was “I believe the price is so high due to the proximity of the Canadian border to Plattsburgh. Look at all the cars with Canadian plates at the gas stations.”

I hear gas prices are even higher in Canada. Too bad the Canadians do not know how to get to Keeseville. They could save, in some cases, 20 cents a gallon, as of April 2 anyway.