Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on October 18, 2015 · Page A35
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page A35

Rochester, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Page A35
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DemocratandChronicle .com Sunday,October18,2015 Page35A CONNECT WITH US All submissions must include your name,address and daytime telephone number. Limit letters to fewer than 150 words; essays to 450 words. Readers are limited to o ne published letter every 30 days. Send to Letters to the Editor,Democrat and Chronicle,55 Exchange Blvd.,Rochester NY 14614; email Call (585) 258-2250. Fax: (585) 258-2356. All letters and essays chosen for publication are subject to editing for length,clarity and accuracy. Pittsford is a charm- ingcommunity with a well-run government and excellent schools. As such, people think that we don’t have crime, our kids don’t use drugs, and b ad stuff doesn’t happen here. The Tan homicide case and issues surrounding it places the spotlight squarely on the critical role of an agency such as Pittsford Youth Services. It highlights the importance of dealing with social/emotional/mental health issues before tragedy happens. T he question has now been brought to the forefront as to why the family d id not receive services that would h ave helped break the cycle of domes- t ic violence. The school district is cur- r ently reviewing, with the support of P ittsford Youth Services, its social/ e motional health services, policies and p rocedures, and evaluating how we can w ork together to improve access to and delivery of those services. If help had been sought, it could have spared the l ives of at least two people: a father and a n otherwise well-respected young man w hose life will never be the same. This i s why our services are so critical to the community at large. P ittsford Youth Services was founded in 1969 and since then we have been q uietly providing affordable, confiden- tial counseling and social work for the Pittsford community. We are routinely called in to provide support in situ- a tions involving emergency hospitalizations, suicidal ideation, grief/loss, underage drug/alcohol use, divorce/ separation, depression and anxiety. The challenges facing our youth today are more complex than ever and often require professional support and intervention. A community-based social work provider, Pittsford Youth Services is a unique model that provides invaluable services in both the community and schools. There is a falsely held belief that poverty does not exist in Pittsford. Residents who are struggling finan- c ially in our town are far more prevalent than most people realize, and we s ee the impact of poverty on families e very day. J ob loss, divorce/separation, and h ome foreclosures are symptoms of t his troubling trend of residents being u nable to sustain the cost of living in P ittsford. W ithout an agency such as ours, that can offer affordable or free services to our neediest families, the t ragedies that make the news all too f requently today would be even more p revalent. Don’t ignore the signs, and d on’t hesitate to seek help. J ill Harter Lennox is executive director of administration for Pittsford Y outh Services Inc. Pittsford is not immune JILL HARTER LENNOX GUEST ESSAYIST Battley worked quietly in pursuit of a big goal Sometimes the biggest impact is created by those who work quietly over time in the pursuit of a goal. I believe that the new photonics center pro- v ides an example of that. F or 10 years Tom Battley has been the executive director o f the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster. He has w orked tirelessly promoting our region as the international hub for optics and photonics. He’s made numerous trips to Albany and Washington promoting our region, our companies, our work force, and our expertise in all things concerning optics and photonics. He worked closely with Louise Slaughter, other politicians, a nd business and community leaders on initiatives large and small. We have Tom to thank for Rochester’s new photonics center. STEVE HEVERON-SMITH VICE PRESIDENT DEVELOPMENT, LUMETRICS Concerned about conflict over Defense Dept. funds The editorial “Stop fighting, start talking” reminds me of an earlier local frenzy over federal funds. Some years ago New York state scrambled to qualify for a sizable Race to the Top federal education grant, with strings attached. The end result: an explosion in questionable charter schools, bitter conflicts over teacher evaluations, parental uprising against testing, and negligible improvement in school outcomes. Now in Rochester we again are witnessing conflict over a federal grant, the sizable Department of Defense funds for anew photonics manufacturing center. Am I the only one troubled by the fact that this is first and foremost a military program? Despite catastrophic U.S. military misadventures across the globe, our government and university leaders are battling to control the defense windfall. We hear the usual claims about job growth, technological innovation, economic prestige, but potential profit from new startups is, as always, the real motive, whatever the consequences for the rest of us. DOUG NOBLE ROCHESTER Little kids lose big dreams with every step Ihad to stop and take notice. It was a cold, windy Sunday morning around 7:30 a.m. The football field was scattered with players who appeared to be 7 or 8 years old. The coaches dili- g ently managed them all. There were a handful of pare nts sitting in the stands drinking coffee. It was impressive to s ee this much dedication, given the conditions and time. There were also small cheerleaders jumping and doing back flips. Their enthusiasm was wonderful to watch. Iwas not in a suburb. I was standing at the corner of Culver Road and Atlantic Avenue in the city of Rochester. What happens, as these kids g et older, that makes the suburban path so much more successful than the urban one? Ibelieve parents need to be held accountable as much as anyone else, but I am tired of hearing the parent blamed. Ithink the community path is just as influential as the parent one. The way things are, small kids lose big dreams with every step. JOHN BLISS ROCHESTER PAT ON THE BACK Boy Scouts raise awareness of resources The Boy Scouts of the Seneca Waterways Council hosted a 46er Peak Challenge last weekend. In an effort to promote awareness of New York’s natural resources, encourage environmental awareness and demonstrate physical fitness, groups of youth and adults from our area hiked and climbed the tallest mountains in New York’s Adirondack Park. In total, over 400 scouts participated in this physically and mentally challenging event, scaling 44 of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks. Over the course of the weekend, 32 different Scout groups hiked over 8,500 miles in total. DAVID GEIER WEBSTER LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The recent article, “New York supporters hope for California ‘aid-in-dying’ boost” discusses the hope to achieve aid in dying in New York following e nactment of a bill in California. Aid in dying is the process by which a terminally ill, mentally competent patient, with less than six months to live, may request a prescription of medicines that the patient may taketo end intolerable suffering and achieve a peaceful death. T he California law is patterned after similar ones in Oregon, Washing- t on and Vermont, and there are pend- i ng bills in New York. T he California law was enacted b ecause aid in dying is a safe practice w ith harm caused to no one. The evi- d ence shows that such laws in other s tates have worked just as intended o ver some two decades. Aid in dying, while rarely used, (about one in 300 deaths) provides c omfort to thousands knowing they h ave this option. A lmost all aid-in-dying patients h ave health insurance, about 80 percent are receiving hospice care, the g old standard of end-of-life care, and a2007 study found that there is no d isproportionate impact on or risk of abuse of vulnerable populations such as the poor, people with disabilities, the elderly, people of color, etc. — which r efutes the assertion of Michael Long, the head of the state Conservative Party, that this is “Kill Granny legislation.” Of course it is not in any way killing a patient any more than when doctors, consistent with state law and sound ethical principles, help their patients hasten death such as when they with- d raw a ventilator or provide palliative sedation to a dying patient. When the public and politicians understand what aid in dying entails and that it is far better to have an aboveground, appropriately regulated, legal practice than the current underground, unregulated practice that puts doctors a nd family members at unnecessary risk, they may realize that all patients a re better protected by having aid in d ying legalized. T his is probably why the California M edical Association has taken a posit ion that this is a matter between physic ians and their patients. H opefully Mr. Long and others who h ave taken an initial position against aid in dying will soon educate themselves and recognize that this is a safe p ractice, rarely used but an individual r ight, with which the government s hould not interfere. David C. Leven, a former resident of R ochester, is the executive director of End of Life Choices New York. Make aid in dying legal DAVID C. LEVEN GUEST ESSAYIST Urban League CEO William G . Clark, states in his Oct. 11 guest essay that he wants to “clear the air” about Common Core state standards. His openness for more de- b ate is helpful, since there is a c ritical need for facts and research about Common Core in our community; especially as the Governor’s Commission evaluates New York’s Common Core implementation process and many parents decide whether or not to “ opt” their children out of the 2016 exams. A lthough Mr. Clark may be technically correct with several points he makes in his essay, “the devil is in the details.” For example, Mr. Clark states “the Common Core standards are a set of academic goals, not a c urriculum.” What Mr. Clark fails to add is that teaching of the Common Core standards is driven by Common Core high-stakes, standardized tests, which are directly tied to school, teacher and administrator evaluations. T he threat of poor student performance on these tests has resulted in teachers and administrators narrowing the curriculum, thereby neglecting student interest, needs and o ther valuable subject areas, like citizenship and the arts. Poor urban students, those learning Engl ish, and special education students suffer the most from this scenario, given that they are the most likely to not score at high levels on these tests. As a result, they will receive the most “test-prep” instruction. Mr. Clark also states that Common Core standards “give all students a chance to suc- c eed,” while ignoring the following realities: Common Core, Gov. Cuomo and the state Legislature do not require equitable funding for those schools that serve children suffering from concentrated poverty and other c onditions that inhibit learning. M any of the Common Core standards are developmentally inappropriate. Over five hundred early childhood experts testifiedto this. Mr. Clark also erroneously states that the C ommon Core standards are well-written and d eveloped because they “were created by educators from across the country.” Research states: » Although the Common Core writing committees have expanded, only 27 people were o n the original Common Core committees; 24 f rom testing corporations or testing advocacy groups. Only one member of the original writing group was a classroom teacher. » There were limited opportunities for parents, students, motivational psychologists o r experts in special education or language acquisition to review the standards. » There was no rigorous evaluation of the Common Core assessments to determine if they gave reliable, meaningful information about student growth. » Bill Gates contributed over $200 million to develop and promote Common Core. Given these Common Core facts and myths and the harm caused to students and public e ducation, more than 230,000 New York state parents “opted” their children out of Common Core exams in 2015 to pressure Albany to a bandon Common Core and implement a system designed by New York state educators, accompanied by equitable funding for poverty-stricken schools. Iurge Rochester-area parents to do the same and/or contact their state legislators. Dan Drmacich is a retired principal of S chool Without Walls. AT ISSUE: COMMON CORE STANDARDS Give up Common Core standards CLSGRAPHICSGETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO DAN DRMACICH GUEST ESSAYIST

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