Letters to the Editor

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Diversity coalitions : One Thread

This thread is for the SOS members to compose and edit letters to the editors of local newspapers. It will help coordinate letter writing efforts so that SOS members can write letters, help edit one, suggest topics or just pick one to send to an editor. The idea is that many people may not have the time or the subject depth to write timely letters. We hope this may help in those efforts to publicize our concerns. IF YOU CHOSE TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR FROM THIS LIST, PLEASE INDICATE YOUR INTENTIONS TO DO SO ON THIS LIST TO AVOID DUPLICITY. Thank You.

-- Anonymous, February 27, 2001

Answers

Here's a letter up for grabs and/or editing.

Dear Editor,

At the Onteora Board of Education meeting, on February 26, School Superintendent, Dr. Hal Rowe, and Business Administrator, Chuck Snyder, have suggested that the effects of the austerity budget at Onteora may be beginning to take their toll on programs in the schools of the district. Dr. Rowe said that the principals will need to meet with him to discuss their budgets and search for areas where they can delay spending until another school year. Beginning in March Mr. Snyder will be providing the board with detailed budget reports to keep them informed of the situation.

These financial problems of the district are the direct result of the forced austerity budget under which Onteora is now operating. One of the main reasons that this condition exists is that the present board majority did not support the budget presented to them by the school administration last year. In fact, Trustee Fred Perry had suggested that he felt that the forced austerity budget increase of 2 1/2 percent was too high and could even be cut lower.

The public must hold this school board accountable for their actions of the past year. Not supporting a workable budget for our children's teachers. Destabilizing the budget and tax base by giving away the unexpended fund. Large amounts of money unnecessarily spent on directionless investigations. Needlessly spending money on lawsuits the districit is losing rather than settle out of court. This money comes out of the educational programs designed for our children.

Remember this if your disappointed child doesn't get to go on the school trip this year. Remember this if your child's favorite after school program is cancelled. And remember this when you select a candidate to vote for in the upcoming school board election in May. Hold the majority accountable for their actions.

-- Anonymous, February 27, 2001


The above letter was sent by me with my name to the Woodstock Times today. It turns out that the WT deadline is Monday PM or Tuesday AM if timely.

Here is the e-mail address of the Woodstock Times for sending letters. news@woodstocktimes.

-- Anonymous, February 27, 2001


To the Editor:

I was horrified at the 26th Onteora School Board meeting. Mr. Doan wants to bring in an outside lawyer firm to examine the departments and how they are meeting mandates. A cap of 10K has been suggested. $10,000! The one department most targeted is Special Education. These are the kids most discriminated against. The telling moment for me was when a person from the audience yelled out "what about the average kids". The sad thing is, yea, what about them? It is true and I agree that the middle kid on the bell curve is the one who has the least supports and safety nets and is the most neglected. This may be what she meant, but her heckle was mean spirited. Special Ed is not the reason other kids are not receiving good programs and supports. It is a resistant school board not placing children first (which they have made an oath by state law). It is a school board with a majority prejudice towards people with disabilities and their place amongst us. All of this negetivity is based on fear. It's not the special education programs or the gifted and talented programs that are negitively impacting the district. It is money spent eroniously on outsiders to come in and fix what doesn't need fixing. $10,000. And this is only one of 3 parts. This lawyer firm has already been approved to do other district investigation with NO MONEY CAP!

Taught in a basic Inclusion 101 class at colleges, universities and state level conferences is "it's not my kids or your kids....it's OUR kids". Let's get back to being a whole district again. Consider that the topic of discussion should be "what about the average kid".

----

Ok, everyone. What do you think. I'm really upset and if I'm being inappropriate please let me know.

-- Anonymous, February 27, 2001


I like the letter. It shows the passion of your commitment and your reaction to their ignorant misdeeds. I do have concerns about your role as an aid in the district with Doan hovering about like the wicked witch. Maybe you can get a supporter to sign it. Just a thought.

Some grammatical suggestions - Add the month in the date (Feb. 26th) and the last sentence of the first paragraph should probably read law firms, not lawyer firms. I would call Doan Trustee Doan rather than Mr. as it identifies him more easily.

What papers should we send it to and from who?? Any takers. C'mon guys we're writing the letters for those of you who may not have time or are too shy. If letters keep arriving from the same people it discredits them and helps target them to Doan and Company. Anybody want to send it?

-- Anonymous, February 27, 2001


I'm willing to helkp anyone write a letter. Tobe

-- Anonymous, April 10, 2001


My proposed letter to the Woodstock Times and Ulster Townsman. Will send it tonight @9 if there are no corrections or objections:

There seems to be considerable miss-information and confusion about whether the Onteora Board of Education trustees are ultimately responsible to the taxpayers who elected them, or to the students. Contrary to popular belief, including erroneous notions expressed by some current board members, the Board of Education trustees are primarily responsible to the students whose education they oversee. While board members must responsibly manage the money the taxpayers have allocated, the education of our children must be their principal focus.

The New York State School Board Association (NYSSBA) states very clearly that the school board must "engage in activities that promote a positive image for public schools and a public view of school boards as advocates for children."

While the will of the taxpayers may guide them in budgetary matters, and the board must "approve construction projects, capital expenditures, contracts and budget reports," the NYSSBA documents state plainly that a board member "must be able to provide today's kind of education for today's children. He or she must understand the forces of change in society and foresee their potential effects on the district. Tolerant and free of prejudice, a board member must be responsive to the human needs of individuals and groups. He or she must bear in mind that, as a state official, his or her responsibility is to all the state's children."

Meg Carey and Tom Rosato are experienced educators who understand how knowledgeable board trustees can enhance the educational process so that our children will get the best education possible. Whether or not you have children in the school system, your vote on this issue matters.

Please support Meg and Tom on May 15 so that the Onteora Board of Education can return to a focus on education.

-- Anonymous, April 21, 2001


Carol,

I think the letter sounds great.

jim

-- Anonymous, April 21, 2001


Thank you carol....great letter. I'm trying to get others to write letters with similar theme.

-- Anonymous, April 22, 2001

One critique Carol: miss-information is mis-information. One "s" and I'm not sure about the "-". :)

-- Anonymous, April 22, 2001

The following letter has been submitted to the Freeman, WT and Townsman.

Dear Editor,

Recent decisions by the Onteora school board were disappointing for parents and citizens concerned about bringing education to the forefront of this district's long-term goals. The board recently voted to NOT put a bond issue for a complete separation of the middle school at the high school before the voters in June. Past board's have repeatedly endorsed this concept of a middle school and have thus attracted quality staff and administrators to attain such a goal at Onteora. Keeping seventh graders separate from twelfth graders seems to make a lot of sense for many reasons. But with very little discussion and thoughtful foresight, the board decided to not give the Onteora voters a chance to voice their opinion. The many parents, students, teachers and administrators who spoke in favor of such a middle school concept were greatly disappointed.

At the next meeting the same board majority then voted to place a legally questionable non-binding referendum regarding the highly controversial Indian mascot on the ballot in May when two board seats are up for election. It should be noted that this referendum item was only added as an addendum onto the agenda, at the last minute, on the same day of the board meeting. The voters made their feelings clear at the last election and now the majority brings this divisive issue up yet again to blur the real issues and play politics with our children's education during this election. Enough is enough.

The board majority has used tactics like this constantly for the past year since they gained control. Their focus has been on expensive litigation, intimidation of the administration and staff, lack of respect for fellow board members and students, unethical tactics at board meetings, and smoke and mirror accounting procedures that are causing an 8 1/2 percent tax increase! Let's put an end to cheap politics at our board of education and elect the candidates who care about our children. Vote for Tom Rosato and Meg Carey on May 15 and return the focus to education at Onteora.

Jim Sofranko West Shokan

-- Anonymous, April 23, 2001



My name is Rachel Hernandez. I am a junior, currently serving as Onteora's student representative to the Board of Education.

I have been a student in the Onteora district since my first day of Kindergarten. Over the years, the school programs and activities that pertain to the arts have become very near and dear to my heart. I have always been active in school plays, concerts, and art classes. I remember my time with Janine Pommy Vega, a resident artist who came to my fifth grade classroom and taught my fellow students and me methods of expressing ourselves through poetry. It was then that I first had a glimpse of the power of words and the beauty a string of these words could encompass. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I still have the book of poetry my friends and I created that year. Every time I read it, I am amazed at how eloquent we all were, at the age of ten. I can't describe the pride I felt, at ten years old, being able to pick up a book and from it, read poetry I had written.

Imagine my shock when two Board of Education members questioned the need of hiring Ms. Vega. They saw little need for a poet's skills in the classroom. I ask you, what are we to be teaching the children of this district, if not basic means of expression? What are we to learn, if not appreciation of the written word? As a high school student who cares very deeply about the conditions of her school, I encourage the Board of Education and the community to support the arts, visual, literary, or otherwise. Please, allow students to learn how to truly love and appreciate the creativity that fills our world. School is not only for the memorization of times tables.

I am involved in the affairs of this district because of my love for the school. I love Onteora because of the enriching programs that spark my curiosity. I beg this community, DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO JEOPARDIZE THESE PROGRAMS. It would kill the spirt of this district, and its students. By supporting only certain kinds of activities, some trustees are catering to a small portion of the student population. I am not an athlete. This does not mean the Board of Education should negelct to support me and my endeavors.

Support the arts. They're all a student like me has; they make high school worthwhile. Don't forget the students who can't pass a football or recite the Pythagorean Theorum. We belong to the school community as well, and need your love and support. Is it really worth sacrificing crucial educational oppurtunities to save a couple of bucks?

I wrote that during English, Tuesday morning (to say the least, Joe D. and Rose got me pretty upset). I'm considering sending it to WDSK Times and the UC Townsman. Before I do this, I'd like some feedback. Don't be nice to me, just because I'm younger. Feel free to rip it apart, grammatical or otherwise. (I'm most worried about including the whole thing. I feel like it's kind of lengthy).

-- Anonymous, January 18, 2002


Good letter, Rachel.

Perhaps it is a bit lenghty and should be edited and condensed to be shorter. There are limitations on the number of words for submission, the WT is 500, the Freeman is short as possible and the UCT is unknown.

But the ideas there are very important for people in the community to understand. When we make these claims as adults, they often fall on deaf ears. But coming from an involved student bears much more weight and credibility.

Personally, I would name the board members (Doan and Rose) who didn't vote for the arts in order to hold them publically accountable. Don't forget that many people aren't as close to these issues as we are. But then again, I am most interested in the upcoming election and holding them accountable for their actions to the public. The more they get exposed, simply for their own deeds, the better chance we have of changing the political landscape of the board. Their vote is a part of the public record.

But I surely can understand if you are not comfortable with naming names.

-- Anonymous, January 18, 2002


I forgot. Be sure to run it through spellcheck to fix some spelling errors. Opportunities was one word I noticied misspelled.

-- Anonymous, January 18, 2002

Yeah, I caught opportunities, but only after I sent it.

I'll work on it tomorrow. I do think that it should be shorter, the message would be more effective that way.

Re: naming names- My original letter was much more... angry. It was because I wrote it as an opinion piece in Lit. In omitting the more offensive sentances, Rose and Joe's names were simply removed. I'll be sure to give them a little more credit in the next draft.

-- Anonymous, January 18, 2002


hi Rachel ..I'm with Jim and yourself on the lenghth issue .. as an avid reader of letters to the Ed., I think brevity is crucial. Also since our intention is to do all we can do to replace Joe and Rose, naming names matters.AS the focus of the UCT article is Phoenicia , perhaps you would consider sending that to UCT and Phoenicia Times. It's brevity and directness were fantastic..also as SAVI is a new program , many would benefit from being introduced to it through this letter.Woodstock is more historically passionate about the Arts and would respond well to the issues in the letter above. I'll hold any other commentary 'til a shorter version comes down, but do feel a bit awkward about editing a student's writing. So few students have chosen to participate in this way that I'm just tempted to leave you to your fresh remarkable self and let people hear that.

-- Anonymous, January 19, 2002


whoops .that was pretty unclear. The letter I was first referring to was your letter read @ Monday's meeting.

-- Anonymous, January 19, 2002

Length: 457 words

My name is Rachel Hernandez. I am a junior at Onteora High School and was elected to represent the students on the Board of Education.

I have been a student in the Onteora district since my first day of Kindergarten. One of my fondest memories is of my time with Janine Pommy Vega, a resident artist who came to my fifth grade classroom and taught the class methods of expressing ourselves through poetry. It was then that I first had a glimpse of the power of words and the beauty a string of these words could encompass. Iím not embarrassed to admit that I still have the book of poetry my friends and I created that year, at the age of ten. I canít describe the pride I felt, at ten years old, being able to pick up a book and from it, read poetry I had written.

Imagine my shock when two Board of Education members, Rose Ostrander and Joseph Doan, questioned the need to hire Ms. Vega. They saw little need for a poetís skills in the classroom. I ask you, what are we to be teaching the children of this district, if not basic means of expression? What are we to learn, if not appreciation of the written word?

I am involved in the affairs of this district because of my love for the school. I love Onteora because of the enriching programs that spark my curiosity. I beg this community, DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO JEOPARDIZE THESE PROGRAMS. It would kill the spirit of this district, and its students. By supporting only certain kinds of activities, Mr. Doan and Mrs. Ostrander are catering to a small portion of the student population. As Board of Education members, I would hope that they would want to support me and my endeavors.

Support the arts. Theyíre all a student like me has; they make high school worthwhile. It is not a coincidence that in addition to ignoring the need for Mrs. Vega, Mr. Doan and Mrs. Ostrander voted against Susan Slotnick, Barbara Zimet and Dennis Yerry, three incredible artists with much to bring to this district. This is neglectful to the needs of the students and is especially insulting because as Mrs. Ostrander and Mr. Doan vote against the arts, they spend outrageous funds on needless litigation (While the cost of a poet is $200 for a 5-hour day with direct student contact and benefit, the cost of a lawyer, at $150 per hour, would be $750 for a 5-hour day with absolutely no student benefit). Though the wisdom of an artist comes with a small cost, the value of the experience is infinite. Please, donít sacrifice my education just to save a couple of bucks.

I'll send it tomorrow morning to allow any additional comments you might have. Thanks for the help. And thanks for Tobe for reminding me to use numbers. :) I hope you don't mind that I included your statement in my letter.

Gracias, Rachel

-- Anonymous, January 20, 2002


UPDATED VERSION

My name is Rachel Hernandez. I am a junior at Onteora High School and was elected to represent the students on the Board of Education.

I have been a student in the Onteora district since my first day of Kindergarten. One of my fondest memories is of my time with Janine Pommy Vega, a resident artist who came to my fifth grade classroom and taught the class methods of expressing ourselves through poetry. It was then that I first had a glimpse of the power of words and the beauty a string of these words could encompass. Iím not embarrassed to admit that I still have the book of poetry my friends and I created that year, at the age of ten. I canít describe the pride I felt, at ten years old, being able to pick up a book and from it, read poetry I had written.

Imagine my shock when two Board of Education members, Rose Ostrander and Joseph Doan, questioned the need to hire Ms. Vega. They saw little need for a poetís skills in the classroom. I ask you, what are we to be teaching the children of this district, if not basic means of expression? What are we to learn, if not appreciation of the written word?

I am involved in the affairs of this district because of my love for the school. I love Onteora because of the enriching programs that spark my curiosity. I beg this community, DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO JEOPARDIZE THESE PROGRAMS. It would kill the spirit of this district, and its students. By supporting only certain kinds of activities, Mr. Doan and Mrs. Ostrander are catering to a small portion of the student population. As Board of Education members, they are obliged to support every child of this district.

Support the arts. Theyíre all a student like me has; they make high school worthwhile. It is not a coincidence that in addition to ignoring the need for Mrs. Vega, Mr. Doan and Mrs. Ostrander voted against Susan Slotnick, Barbara Zimet and Dennis Yerry, three incredible artists with much to bring to this district. This is neglectful to the needs of the students and is especially insulting because as Mrs. Ostrander and Mr. Doan vote against the arts, they spend outrageous funds on needless litigation (While the cost of a poet is $200 for a 5-hour day with direct student contact and benefit, the cost of a lawyer, at $150 per hour, would be $750 for a 5-hour day with absolutely no student benefit). Though the wisdom of an artist comes with a small cost, the value of the experience is infinite. Please, donít sacrifice the education of this district's youth just to save a couple of bucks.

-- Anonymous, January 20, 2002


The only suggestion I may have to offer is, perhaps, to NOT name the other artists but to mention "three other artists" were not supported by the Doan and Ostrander voting block. My blunt reasoning is simply that Dennis is still very closely associated with the Onteora Indian controversy. (Sorry Dennis).

It may help make the message of your letter more clear and direct. One must ask oneself... does the inclusion of the Zimet, Yerry,and Slotnick names add to your statement or distract? I don't, for one minute, mean to even suggest that Dennis shouldn't be perceived as a valuable asset to the artistic and educational community. But I do want to make every letter count as meaningfully as possible without distraction.

-- Anonymous, January 20, 2002


Argh, the post that I wrote before was eaten...

Jim, you have a good point. I wanted to make sure that those who read my letter would recognize Barbara Zimet's name. She's a Woodstock resident (who I am sure many of you are familiar with) who has taught many district children how to play the piano (former rep. Erik was one of them). I think a lot of parents would be concerned that this well-respected and known woman would be under the attack of Joe Doan. What Marino said about throwing rocks at Mt. Rushmore isn't much of an exaggeration.

However, I don't want to distract from my point by including a name that has a direct connection to another controversial issue, especially one having to do with the mascot. Perhaps it would be better not to include the names at all, I'm not sure.

Rachel

-- Anonymous, January 20, 2002


You could say something to the effect that several arts projects were voted down by the dynamic duo including the funding for well respected pianist Barbara Zimit.

-- Anonymous, January 21, 2002

Blast! That's a great suggestion, but I sent my letter before I got a chance to check back at the boards. Shoot.

-- Anonymous, January 21, 2002

Looking forward to seeing it in print. Tobe

-- Anonymous, January 21, 2002

Moderation questions? read the FAQ