Serving the Towns of Wawarsing, Crawford, Mamakating, Rochester and Shawangunk, and everything in between
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In Appreciation Of Dr. Sperling...

It's been three long months since Dr. Walter Sperling ended his over 40 years of practice. Hopefully he is taking a well deserved rest before starting his next venture — teaching at the hospital. He has a lot that he can teach new doctors; not only medical knowledge, but people knowledge. So many doctors are lax in taking time to listen to their patients; after all, they know their bodies more than anyone. They need to take an interest in them and their problems. The wait time to see the doctor is no longer than the 10 to 15 minutes the appointment is allotted; they want to see more patients. Dr. Sperling may have been behind a lot, but that's because to him individual patient care was more important than the amount of patients he saw. I think I can speak for a lot of Dr. Sperling's patients when I say we miss you and we love you and we which you the best of everything in the future.

Bonnie Hull

It's Time To Respect & Revamp Education Again!

It is heartening to see that some local school boards are shining a light on and beginning to resist the idea that standardized testing is the silver bullet for making us smart.

In New York's version of Seinfeld's "Bizzarro World" during this so-called "race to the top," many children are being trampled by the stampede. What may have started out as a well-meaning blueprint for improving education across the United States, has in some cases become a formula for failure. Children who have various, sometimes severe, learning disabilities are expected to take and perform as well as children without learning disabilities.

In order to prepare them for the tests, vast amounts of time and resources are spent with them in preparation, sometimes to no avail. In many cases, the learning disabilities are pronounced enough that the students simply cannot be expected to score well on standardized exams. The thinking behind this is undoubtedly noble: that everyone deserves an equal shot at education. The reality of it is that this leaves the teachers little time, nor adequate funds, to work with other students, like late bloomers — those who might just learn differently, kids who may be having other social problems, the ones who "fall through the cracks" and who would actually benefit from extra tutoring.

The result is often that not only do the kids with learning disabilities score low on these high-stakes tests, but the lower-performing, non-special needs kids' scores are low too! How can this be fair to the students and the teachers, whose ratings then are downgraded if their students don't score well? What does failure on a test mean to these students? Do they give up? Do they begin to lose interest in school?

In our race to the top are we creating a subclass of students at the bottom? Teachers, rather than being allowed quality time to spend with students on an individual basis, now have a certain number of minutes, proscribed by school administrators, for each subject, each day, regardless of whether the kids are "getting it" or actively engaged in a particular unit of study.

Teaching to tests is the new normal. Memorization, rather than understanding, is encouraged. It is incumbent upon teachers to stress to the children the importance of these tests. Stress is the operative word in today's classroom. The schoolroom is no longer a place where a good teacher can use his or her experience, intuition and intellect to teach. It is now a place where rigorous preparation for questions that might appear on a test in subjects not even normally part of the regular curriculum is the rule, sacrificing quality instruction in important basic subjects like reading, arithmetic, writing, and civics.

There is no time for creative problem solving and critical thinking. Music and art are relegated to the back of the class. Education is not about enrichment, it's about statistics and dollars. Perform well or lose federal and state support. Teachers, who were once considered honorable, valuable and indispensable for the success of our nation are now sometimes branded as "government" workers, sucking up dollars, living the high life, lounging around three months each year with nothing to do but collect checks from the taxpayers.

I wonder how many taxpayers understand just how hard a good teacher works, how many extracurricular hours are spent in meetings, fulfilling their own educational requirements, and classroom planning. A good teacher deserves every penny he or she earns. There are few jobs more important.

Perhaps it's time for an intelligent and thoughtful revamping of our education system, from the way it's funded, to curriculum development, to administration. A one-size-fits-all approach is not the answer. It's time to stop racing and start thinking.

Nancy Campbell

Tougher Crime Measures Are Needed

Take rights from citizens while putting mentally ill and criminals back on the street?

I have seen more and more on the news "parolee" or "mentally ill person" or "had a lengthy criminal background" time and time again committing more crimes. More victims, more atrocities committed, and yet our state leaders are closing prisons and mental health facilities, while punishing citizens with unjust laws like the Cuomo's SAFE act. How do you justify it? Police and children dead on our streets and we cut the tools we have to stop this? What price do we put on human life?

Instead of putting them back on the streets to hurt more innocents, we need tougher criminal sentencing and more help for our mentally ill. We need to aggressively prosecute these criminals and tougher criteria to be eligible for parole.

End the madness and get these people off our streets!

Douglas Berryann

The Costs Of Living Are Rising Too Quickly

I am writing this letter in total frustration.

The government on all levels, federal, state and local, has no clue as to what they are doing to the citizens of this country.

The middle class is being strangled with the ever-increasing costs of home fuel oil, propane, gasoline, utilities, as well as medical and food expenses. More and more people are losing their homes. Small businesses, which account for a significant number of jobs, are closing their doors. Our veterans are returning from serving their country and cannot afford to cover regular living expenses.

Do our elected officials want to take over our properties, businesses and try to make ends meet on the meager pensions, incomes, etc.?

Their inability to act in a responsible manner is appalling. If our elected officials were working regular jobs, they would have been terminated a long time ago for failure to properly execute the responsibilities for which they were hired. Yet, they still receive their salaries, have better health insurance than most and continue to fail miserably at their posts and look forward to their pensions.

Where is the answer? Do our elected officials really believe they will be re-elected? How naive can they be.

Nicandro D'acunto

Single Payer Health Insurance Is The Answer!

I got the call today that health insurance costs for my company will be going up by 25 percent this year, after an increase of 34 percent last year. If you want to understand why this can happen so routinely, here are the details.

I buy health insurance for 65 people, just like the company next door that buys health insurance for 143 people.

In the past two years, I've had four people in my company, long-time employees, diagnosed with serious illnesses requiring substantial care. The company next door had one employee who suffered a serious illness in that time.

The "experience pool" by which the insurance companies calculate their "risk" or "loss" is limited to the 65 people in my firm, so the cost of those four illnesses must be paid for by the premiums of the 65 people covered in my company. Hence, the huge rate increases.

This happens at virtually every business in America that provides health insurance options for its employees.

The workers at the company next door had no major illnesses during that period. Their premiums went up by 9 percent last year and 9 percent again this year. That's because, in their "experience pool" of 143 workers, they were "lucky" to have just one major illness in that time.

So, our health care "experience" is not determined by all the people covered by an insurance company, the entire group of plans like mine combined. It is determined by the specific group of people in a company's plan. If there are 50,000 small businesses in New York, there are 50,000 "experience pools."

But in a single-payer plan, such as those in virtually every other developed nation on the planet, the "experience pool" is the entire population. It is very simple and very accurate, too.

The cost last year of health insurance for those 65 employees was just a little over $800,000. The increase for this year alone is a whopping $200,000.

That $200,000 would have been a four percent across-the-board raise for those employees. Instead, it will go to an insurance company to offset their "loss" on that unlucky "pool" of 65 people.

But they won't return one penny for the "excess" premiums they collected from those 50,000 small companies who were "lucky" this year. That has never happened, in my many years of experience.

Small business wants a single-payer health insurance system in the United States, and we want it soon.

If you don't believe it, just ask.

Joe Giardullo

Rape Is A Truly Serious Crime...

Thousands of rapes occur on our servicewomen by men with whom they serve here and abroad in Afghanistan.

Last October, two sailors in Japan raped a 20-year-old woman, stealing $75 from her. A Japanese court sentenced one to serve ten years, the other nine. I wager that if rapists got such sentences every time a woman or child was victimized, we'd see less of this despicable crime. Why are these horrid acts skimmed over so lightly here and around the world?

The severe emotional, mental and spiritual scarring follows the victim the rest of her life, strangling and warping her capacity to engage in and fully enjoy human sexual activity. It is time this hidden illness is brought out into the open. It is time, as with the Japanese courts, that all offenders are prosecuted and punished. Why are we so fascinated with violence? When did it begin?

Why do men hate women and children enough to abuse them in this way? We need to get to the root cause! Men in other countries violate girls as young as 3 and 4 years old and it is called "cultural"? Here, child porn is alive and well. Where is the worldwide outrage?

Let us fall down on our knees and give thanks to the new Violence Against Women Bill recently signed and so long overdue.

Joyce Benedict
Hyde Park

Thank You Ellenville Police Department

I want to thank the Ellenville Police Department and commend them for their quick and efficient action in a small case involving my family. It is not necessary to give the details, but after something was stolen from a member of our family and reported to the EPD they acted promptly to retrieve it and notify us that they had it. We went to the station and were received politely and professionally and after a few minutes were given back the object. Sometimes police are subjected to criticism but, in fact, all my observations of our police at the school, in town, at various festivals and parades and in emergency situations have been positive. Thank you again.

Lee Augustine

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