Letters (March 17-24)

mail-letter-sqAdministrative Baby

Last week I read the account of the March 8 Board of Education meeting in the Daily Freeman and I’m livid about Superintendent Turner’s general attitude — and specific bellyaching — regarding his newly assigned task of dictating a district policy for state testing “opt-outs.” By a vote of 5-4, the trustees have (rightly, IMO) tried to get ahead of the testing ruckus by tasking Mr. Turner with setting procedures for all grade 3-8 teachers to follow — and to notify parents of the procedures well in advance of the not-so-distant testing dates.

Turner’s previously stated position on the matter — to let each teacher decide how to deal with opt-outs as they see fit — was perhaps the nuttiest, responsibility-shirking concept I’ve ever heard of. What kind of Superintendent would willingly impose such chaos upon their district? A lazy one, perhaps. Or, worse, one averse to leadership and decision-making for fear of provoking anyone’s ire. Top on that list are the four trustees who voted against this resolution — trustees who, remarkably, after a full year, seem not to have advanced their comprehension of either the opt-out movement or the core legalities of the matter.

Turner had the nerve to say that he would comply with the resolution, but “keep in mind I will not do the work” and “I will not do the grunt work on this”. What? Turner needs to stop being an administrative baby, sit down at his desk and spend five minutes writing a directive memo to teachers with his instructions of how to handle the opt-outs. In case he needs help, here’s a draft he can follow:


“Dear Grade 3-8 teachers,

This year we again expect to be notified by numerous parents that their children will be opting out the state assessment exams. The District cannot legally force all students to take the exams, and in my considered opinion it will only create more confusion and stress for teachers and students alike if we repeat last year’s effort to give opt-out students alternative, ungraded assignments concurrent with the tests. Therefore District policy for 2016 is this: all opt-out students shall be instructed to bring silent reading materials to each testing session, and these pupils shall be seated apart from the rest of the students at the back of the classroom. A letter will be sent to all concerned parents notifying them of this policy and requiring them to submit a letter to their school principal no less than three days prior to each testing session, if they do not wish their child(ren) to sit for the exam. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.”

Turner says he will have to “convene conferences with teachers…pull them out of classrooms and get substitutes” and have an administrative committee convened to review matters of legal compliance. Hooey! The fact of the matter is that the state is again leaving districts in a vacuum to deal with the testing matter on their own. “Compliance,” in this case, means a school district is supposed to come up with any reasonable plan it wants for the opt-outs. Turner needs to act like the well-paid Superintendent he is, dictate a very simple policy, and have done with it.

New business, anyone?  How about that varsity bowling team!

Alex Rappoport


No disrespect intended

As the organization overseeing installer partner selection for our Solarize Hudson Valley campaigns, we always find the process challenging. Our applicants are well qualified and diverse. Choosing who we partner with is a big decision.

Solarize Saugerties was no different, as SolarGeneration’s letter last week reflects. The three firms that we picked included two home-grown Hudson Valley companies, Lighthouse Solar and New York State Solar Farm, as well as one larger national firm, Direct Energy Solar (which started as Astrum Solar). Our criteria included, among other things, the capacity to serve a potentially large Ulster County market, rather than size for its own sake.

Above all, our selection was in no way a negative reflection on SolarGeneration, which is a truly outstanding company we have worked with in the past and hope to work with again.

Melissa Everett, Executive Director, Sustainable Hudson Valley


Minew responds

So glad I “overreacted” Mr. Crannell. No, I actually did not and called to have it explained to me by elected officials prior to my statement and after Mike Hein was chewed out by the district superintendents. And once again you’re incorrect I am fully aware of what DASA is and how it works and also fully aware of what the juvenile court system would do with the poorly constructed proposed piece of legislation your office produced. By the way my interpretation is correct. I do not have to CYA I speak the truth and do my homework! Which is exactly why Mike Hein’s poorly constructed piece of legislation didn’t move anywhere and will not!

By the way Mike you could do the County a favor a worry about the sales tax. Saugerties is losing approximately 270k in 2016 also how much each additional town will lose. Just maybe Mike Hein, you should make arrangements to fix the records you improperly reported to NYS for the tax increases or how you also screwed with reporting line items, instead of worrying about the school, or me, a volunteer reporting back to the people what I was elected to do. Take a page out of my book and tell the truth — like I said give me a call you would have saved yourself and your office embarrassment today as well as done your jobs instead of attacking me!

Angie Minew


Minority Groups Have To Lead The Way

Our social organization is geared to reward the few and to burden the many. Let’s say the few is about 10% of our population — those who live comfortably, don’t worry much about their existence, and go gliding across the ocean in their boats. Half of the remaining 90% blame their pain and hardships on the “others” — immigrants, minorities, Muslims — and buy guns. The other 45% blames capitalism and the capitalists — they organize for power. So it’s Trump vs. Bernie, much like Germany in the 1920’s when fascists and communists fought in the streets. We know who won then and that’s why Trump scares people.

What now? We can fight the system, but we can also try to connect the two 45% factions: build ties for the purpose of working together to create a new establishment based on equality. That’s not futile. The minority groups may have to lead the way. One way or another the two forty-five percents have to unite — that super task and elimination of carbon emissions! Can we do it? Yes!

Rev. Finley Schaef


United We Stand

It looks like the upcoming election has succeeded in dividing us further than we’ve been in many years. Although I write this a few hours before the outcome of the primaries in Florida, Illinois, etc., it seems to me that the Donald is succeeding with his passionate platform of hatred. So, my question is: How can we come together as the United States of America?

Let’s remember that the only citizens that are not immigrants are the Native Americans.  The rest of us, all came from different countries.

To be optimistic, the primaries are not over yet, but as I see it, the Democrats need a candidate that can stand up to Trump. I believe that Bernie has the fire to remind us what we stand for. Of course, Hillary would be my second choice if he loses the primary, since the world would still have respect for us. But we are living in crucial times.

Facts are that other countries are now expressing increasing concern about the Donald.  Canada’s, foreign minister Stephane Dion said:  “It’s something we can’t accept in Canada. We’ve never been as far removed from what we’ve just heard in the US.”

The U.K.’s Labour Party, Jack Dromey said: “Donald Trump is a dangerous fool who would divide people and faiths just when we most need a unity of people and faiths to defeat ISIS.” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said: “Mr. Trump, like others, fuels hatred: our only enemy is radical Islam.”

At this crucial time on the Planet Earth, we need to come together to fight hatred and to protect Life on Earth. This election could be our biggest barrier. Let’s not sit it out. Now is the time for us to come together.

Jill Paperno