Published letters to the editor

Voters must not cede control; vote "NO" on the November 7th referendum to open the NY State Constitution!

The New York Times

Dear Editor:

Voters should vote “NO” on the November 7th referendum to open the NY State Constitution (located on the back of the ballot). Why? Because the alternative means that voters will cede control of the process: voters will have no say over which candidates are selected to run in the primary elections, and they will have no control over the which issues the delegates may choose to address behind closed convention doors.

Proponents of a convention claim that voters will be able to vote on any proposed changes lawmakers make. However, since these changes will all be bundled together, voters will be given no option to vote on specific changes. Also, there are questions about the voting process itself: is there any guarantee that in this political climate our NY State election process will be free of Russian meddling and fake news, problems that beset our most recent presidential elections?

If voters want to maintain control of the process, they should demand that their representatives make specific, targeted changes to the constitution. We don’t need an expensive constitutional convention (estimates are in the hundreds of millions of dollars); we can spend the money on improving our infrastructure and other dire needs.

Sincerely,
J. Zwerling 


The color line

Queens Examiner
Oct 12, 2017 

Dear Editor,

President Donald Trump’s claim that there was nothing about race in his harsh criticism of NFL protesters is disingenuous at best. In fact, it is part of a pattern of dog whistles to his alt-right supporters.

Saying “get that son of a b**ch off the field” unmistakably references Cap Anson’s infamous outburst, “get that n***er off the field,” which led directly to the establishment of the color line in 19th century baseball.

Robert Berger
Bellerose


Vote “NO” on the November 7th  referendum to open the New York State Constitution

NY POST

Dear Editor, New York Post:

I am urging New Yorkers to vote “NO” on the November 7th referendum to open the New York State Constitution, located on the BACK OF THE BALLOT. Do voters want laudable changes, such as environmental protections and term limits? There is no guarantee that opening the constitution would result in such changes.

The NY Post opinion piece dated October 12, 2017 implies that voters will have control over which delegates will serve in the constitutional convention. Actually, all delegates will be picked by party bosses and special interests, and it will be incumbent upon voters to identify which candidates – packed into a very crowded and confusing field – can best represent their interests. Moreover, once the delegates are picked, they will operate in secrecy behind closed doors, and there is no guarantee that they will pursue anyone’s interests but their own.

Why open up this can of worms? Vote “NO” on the November 7th referendum. We don't need wholesale changes shrouded in secrecy. New Yorkers who want specific changes should demand them from their elected representatives, and then monitor their progress in the light of day.

Sincerely,

Citizen for Transparency



Why Opposition is Growing to Opening the NY State Constitution

NY Daily News

Dear Editor:

With reference to your article dated October 6th, there is a very good reason why opposition is growing to opening up the NY State Constitution: it would result in a constitutional convention where anonymous politicians will meet behind closed doors! There is no guarantee that these operatives -  cloaked in the secrecy of a constitutional convention - will concern themselves with anyone’s interests but their own.

There is a more transparent, more focused way to amend the state constitution. Our elected officials can propose TARGETED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS; if these amendments pass in two consecutive legislative sessions, they can be presented to voters for final ratification. New Yorkers should write their congressmen to propose TARGETED LEGISLATIVE CHANGES, and vote their elected officials out of office if they don’t follow through!

Having a Constitutional Convention is chilling because it involves surrendering control of the process, so remember to vote “NO” on the November 7th referendum, located on the BACK OF THE BALLOT.

Sincerely, Concerned Citizen


The Con Con con

Queens Examiner
Oct 04, 2017 

Dear Editor,

The policy proposals, such as a unicameral state legislature and term limits, cited by this paper in support of a constitutional convention are mere window dressing (“Pros of a Con Con outweigh the cons” - 9/28).

The real objectives of the shadowy billionaires funding the pro-convention campaign, slashing public employee pensions and eroding environmental protections, are anything but progressive. 

Urgently needed reforms, like guaranteeing workers the internationally recognized right to withhold their labor and preventing privatization schemes - charters, vouchers or tax credits - from defunding public schools, can be achieved through the amendment process without putting all rights protected under the state constitution in peril.

Sincerely,

Robert Berger


“Majority of New Yorkers Support Con-Con – False Negative Ad Blitz Coming Against It:”

Westchester Rising
Letter to the editor in response to Sept. 15, 2017 article

Friday, September 29, 2017

There are no simple solutions to the complex challenges that we all face in Albany and New York politics, and for this reason, a “no vote” on the proposed constitutional convention is the only sensible choice for New Yorkers this November. Your article suggesting that if New Yorkers are disappointed in Albany and state government they should vote “yes” and that would change everything is misleading at best.

We all want better government, but creating an open-ended process controlled by delegates who, for the most part, will be the same elected officials who are “part of the problem” is certainly not the solution. By omission, your article failed to include the fact that a convention will cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, and is actually not necessary because changes to any part of the State Constitution can be achieved through the existing amendment process.

A constitutional convention will put at risk many of the basic rights and benefits all of us enjoy across this Empire State. All public pensions can and will be at risk and that is fact. The statement included from Bill Samuels that “no existing pension can be taken away because the federal Constitution forbids it” is again misleading because it excludes the full explanation and application of the referenced “contract clause” in the federal Constitution to public pensions in New York State, and certainly doesn’t disclose to readers the changes already made to public pensions in other states and the threats that clearly remain by amend- ing existing language in the State Constitution.

Finally, your one-sided article conveniently leaves out the real facts that needed social services, state environmental protections, workers’ compensation benefits, the right to a free public education, as well as many of our other rights and benefits in this state will all be at risk. So I ask you, “Who doesn’t believe in protecting their family and their future?” I do... and that’s why I’m voting “no” Nov. 7 and I believe you should, too.

Signed Rodney Grubiak of Eastchester.


Convention puts rights in grave danger

Staten Island Advance
Updated on September 26, 2017 at 7:48 PM Posted on September 26, 2017 at 7:47 PM

By Barry Golbin
New Springville

What a surprise! 

The Advance posted the "yes" opinion on their front page and posted the "no" opinion on the inside -- page 3. 

Well, now we know how the Advance is gonna push. The Constitutional Convention will pay an $80,000 stipend to each of the "people" (read that as "politicians") who have a machine to get out their votes  and who are "elected" to the Con-Con. 
$80,000 to each one.

And what is in grave danger? The right to a free public education, the right to keep the environmental "forever wild" protection, the right to join a union, the right to worker's compensation, the right to collect a public employee pension -- all of these are guaranteed by the NY State Constitution.

... and God knows what else these political diddlers will tamper with. No. 

 

And, get this: You must turn over the ballot and on the back, vote NO. I wonder if the political wiseguys didn't set THAT up  just to make it difficult for the voters? 

 


Constitutional Convention? Vote NO

Staten Island Advance
Letter to the Editor

Updated on September 26, 2017 at 7:50 PM Posted on September 26, 2017 at 7:26 PM

By Bob Zuckerberg

Eltingville

 

Every twenty years the New York State constitution requires a referendum on whether or not to have an open-ended and costly constitutional convention. In this off-year election, a small minority of voters will decide this.  

If passed, the voters would be asked to elect 204 convention delegates, many of whom historically would be members of the state legislature, as well as political party leaders.   

They would convene in 2019 for an unspecified duration at a cost of $79,500 annually, allowing elected state legislators to double dip, costing taxpayers an estimated 50 to 100 million dollars.  In 1967 (the last time a convention was held), New Yorkers rejected all of the proposed changes, with delegates and staff being paid for their time, anyway.

Vote NO because voters can already amend the state constitution by voting in the year after two consecutive legislative sessions pass any changes.   

Do you really want to allow possible changes, such as weakening or elimination of public forests, guarantees to retirees and pensions, free public education, and safeguards to worker's rights to join a union and bargain collectively?  

Vote NO!

 

 


Staten Island Advance
NO NO on the Con-Con

September 2017

The Constitutional Convention will pay an $80,000 stipend to each of the "people" (read that as "politicians") who have a machine to get out their votes and who are "elected" to the Con-Con.

$80,000 to each one.

And what is in grave danger?

  • The right to a free public education
  • The right to keep the environmental "forever wild" protection
  • The right to join a union
  • The right to Worker's Compensation
  • The right to collect a public employee pension

All of these are guaranteed by the NY State Constitution ...and God knows what else these political diddlers will tamper with.

NO.

--and get this!!

You must turn over the ballot and on the back, vote NO.

(I wonder if the political wiseguys didn't set THAT up just to make it difficult for the voters)


New York State Alliance for Retired Americans

To the Editor,

There are almost never simple solutions to complex challenges and for this reason a "no" vote on a constitutional convention is the only sensible choice for New Yorkers this November. We all want better government but creating an open-ended process controlled by professional politicians, at a cost of potentially hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, isn't the best way to achieve it.                          

Seniors especially should understand that the state constitution has important protections such as provisions against age discrimination, the right to an absentee ballot and assurance of access to nursing care and labor standards.

Sincerely,
Leslie Freed

 


Readers sound off on charters, Pearl Harbor and John Glenn
Charters bring schools diversity

New York Daily News

December 11, 2016

Bellerose: Kudos to the Daily News for its editorial salute to the greatest generation which saved the world (“The morning it all changed,” editorial, Dec . 7), and remembrance of Pearl Harbor hero Doris Miller (“Uncommon Valor,” Dec. 7). As for Eva Moskowitz, her anti-democratic screed disguising her opposition to public education with a specious claim that charter schools further integration reminds us that not every heel was in Germany or Japan (“It’s a Wonderful Life,” 1946). 

Robert Berger

 


The Call Blog: De Blasio Tries To Unite City After Trump's Victory; New Yorkers React To "Hamilton" Tweets
By The Call Staff

NY1

November 21, 2016

Trump and Pence are playing good cop, bad cop with the cast of Hamilton.  They did it during the campaign and they will do it again.  Do not be deceived.

Robert, Bellerose

 


Trump’s Teacher-Bashing
The Chief

November 02, 2016

To the Editor:

The  Daily  News  is  to  be commended  for  its  six-page Oct. 21 editorial against Donald  Trump’s  candidacy.  In essence, his campaign can be reduced to a single word: hate.

There were, nonetheless, some glaring omissions from the newspaper’s prospective political obituary.

Trump has stated in a le- gal deposition that Teachers are “very stupid.” At the Re- publican Convention in July, Donald Trump Jr. compared public schools to Soviet-era department stores. Trump surrogate Carl Paladino, the failed gubernatorial candidate, recently shocked a Town Hall meeting sponsored by the Council of Great City Schools by saying that urban school systems should be dismantled and replaced by tax credits, charters and vouchers for private schools.

Trump advisers Gov. Chris Christie and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani are notorious Teacher-bashers in their own right. Last but not least, he is solidly behind the Republican platform call for nation-

al right-to-work legislation.

ROBERT BERGER


The Call Blog: The Mayor Meets the President-Elect; Students Protest Trump's Immigration Policies
By The Call Staff

NY1

November 16, 2016 at 10:15 PM EST

If I were in the room with the President-elect and the Mayor, I would tell Donald Trump don't even think about appointing Eva Moskowitz Secretary of Education.  I would tell Bill de Blasio not to accept one cent of federal education money that is conditioned on expansion of charter schools and vouchers.

As for the protesting students, I see that the Department of Education is threatening disciplinary action against them.  I would tell the Mayor to pardon them.  And if he does not, I would tell the students that we've got your back.  Wear your punishment as a badge of honor, like Dr. King.

Robert

Bellerose

 


The Call Blog: Presidential Race Enters Final Week
By The Call Staff

NY1

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Trump will lose.  His real message is not "Make America great again," it is "Make America hate again."  We are better than that.

Robert, Bellerose

 


Who's the School Idiot?
The Chief Leader

December 4, 2015

To the Editor:

Infuriated by remarks from Hillary Clinton and civil rights leaders such as Hazel Dukes and Bertha Lewis critical of charter schools, the Daily News editorial board de- claims that there is an “idiot wind blowing through the Democratic Party” (Democrats vs. charters, 11/14).

Really? Only an idiot would refuse to acknowledge that many charter schools exclude hard-to-teach students, either through cherry-picking or counseling out. Only an idiot would not admit that discipline in many charter schools is incredibly harsh and punitive.

Only an idiot would want to use charter schools as a wedge to undermine and ultimately take over the entire public-school system, a cornerstone of democracy in the United States.

Who is the idiot? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

ROBERT BERGER


The Call Blog:  Before NYPD Crackdown, "Vision Zero Street Teams" Educate New Yorkers
NY1

Friday, December 4, 2015

There best way to teach and reach children is with reality.  Bring both accident victims and those responsible for crashes into the schools to tell their stories.  Surely we can all agree that safety comes first.

ROBERT BERGER, Bellerose


Eva's Smoking Gun
The Chief Leader

FRIDAY,  NOVEMBER  13,  2015

To the Editor:

Eva Moskowitz may or may not run for Mayor some- day, but she can’t hide from the truth that she pushes un- wanted students out of her charter school network (“Success Academy CEO Admits Principal Tried To Force Out Students,” Nov. 6 issue).

Fort Greene Success Principal Candido Brown’s only mistake was putting the long-standing “got to go” pol- icy in writing.

This gun is smoking so much even the Duke would have dropped it like a hot potato.

ROBERT BERGER


The Call Blog: Mayor Holds Wide-Ranging News Conference After Transparency Criticism
NY1

By The Call Staff

Friday, November 6, 2015 at 10:20 PM EST

Mayor de Blasio, can New Yorkers count on you to stand firm and demand that Eva Moskowitz agree to accept city oversight over her pre-K programs in return for funding.  We have seen how she is willing suspend kindergartners at the drop of a hat. What will she do to pre'K students.- Suspend them for crying?

ROBERT BERGER, Bellerose


Racist flags, modern cops and cheating charters
Chew on this
New York Daily News

VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

November 4, 2015

Bellerose: Voicer Bill Fruhauf, who challenged critics of charter schools to produce facts, can eat a full serving of crow now that it has been revealed that a principal in an Eva Moskowitz Success Academy created a “got to go” list of students who were difficult to teach and repeatedly suspended them (“Eva’s pre-Ks hit as rogue,” Oct. 29). Be careful what you wish for. 

ROBERT BERGER


The Call Blog: Rates Mayor De Blasio as his Re-Election Campaign Begins
NY1

By The Call Staff


Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 05:36 PM ED

Mayor de Blasio needs to double down on his support for real public schools.  Demand that Eva Moskowitz stop closing her schools for political rallies and harassing and suspending kindergartners for the "crime" of being 5 years old, and take her to court.  New Yorkers appreciate a fighter.  The cause, it is just, so conquer he must.

ROBERT BERGER, Bellerose


New York Post   
A Nightmare for Doctors

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
 

Onerous record keeping requirements are interfering with patient care and forcing physicians to retire early.

An unlikely left right alliance is defending a noble profession against the depredations of crony capitalism.

The problems associated with health care sounds a lot like what’s happening in education nowadays.

ROBERT BERGER
Bellerose


Making a Desk (Dis)Appearance
NY Post


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

What a terrible example of workplace behavior for children.

A Department of Education spokesman inexplicably stated that the furniture was moved “to facilitate better instruction." Education Chancellor Carmen Farina needs to say unequivocally that this is conduct unbecoming a principal.

ROBERT BERGER


A Royal Mistake?
The Chief Leader

October 20, 2015

To the Editor:

Appointing John King as acting Secretary of Education, so he doesn’t have to be confirmed by the Senate, may be smart politics, but it is not good government.

If the thin-skinned Mr. King cannot withstand grilling by Republican Senators without imploding as he did at the Poughkeepsie town-hall meeting, then he should not be in the President’s cabinet.

The American people de- serve a full airing of the is- sues surrounding education reform and the Common Core standards, not just a disrespectful wisecrack in a press conference about being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. That is not the change we voted for in 2008.

ROBERT BERGER


The Call Blog: Mayor De Blasio To Discuss Rent Issues At First Town Hall
NY1
By The Call Staff

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at 10:30 PM EDT

Mayor de Blasio: you have a progressive education policy in New York City to support traditional public schools.  Right now Congress is considering whether or not to mandate annual standardized testing nationally, which is too often used to demonize teachers and close schools.  Where do you stand on this?

ROBERT BERGER, Bellerose


Eva the Child-Exploiter
The Chief 10/16/2015

Letters to the Editor
 

To the Editor:

Eva Moskowitz’s rallies for her charter-school network are like something that happens in a Communist country, when factories are closed and workers are bused to a central square to shout propaganda slogans.

It is even worse, because she is exploiting children. She is not educating her students to be participating citizens in a democracy. She is training them to follow orders in a dictatorship.

Bronx Borough President Rubén Diaz says there should be peaceful co-existence between traditional and charter schools (New York Post, “Buenos Diaz, Kids,” 10/6). This may not be possible.

In its “Tale of Two Boys” advertisement, Families for Excellent Schools says that 500,000 New York City children need charter schools. This is close to half of the total number of students enrolled in the public-school system. In Los Angeles, Eli Broad is attempting to convert half of the public schools to charters. A school district cannot endure half-traditional and half-charter. It will become all one thing or all the other. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

ROBERT BERGER


VIPs, jackboots and Yogi
New York Daily News

 

VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

September 28, 2015
 

Teacher power

Bellerose: To Voicer Ronald K. Samuel: Teachers unions need more power, not less. Look at how students benefitted from a strike in Seattle this year: They won more counseling and therapy, mandated recess, an end to overtesting and equity teams in schools to address the disproportionate impact of disciplinary policies upon minorities. Compare that to New York City, where the teachers union has been hamstrung by the Taylor Law, which outlaws strikes by public employees. Teachers were forced to wait four years for a fair contract, while abuse was heaped upon them by Mayor Bloomberg’s schools chancellors and the system endured one pointless reorganization after another. 

ROBERT BERGER


The Chief 

September 25, 2015

 

To the Editor:

Credit Governor Cuomo with the good sense to take back from the brink of the education war the Daily News editorial board wants, by calling for a comprehensive review of Common Core implementation (Daily News, “Cuomo’s high-stakes test,” 9/6).

Predictably, the other tabloid in town also disapproved of the Governor’s initiative in incendiary fashion, urging parents unable to place their children in private or charter schools to flee the city (“New York Post, “Cuomo’s commitment to lousy teachers is failing our kids,” 9/7).

Notwithstanding heckling from the journalistic peanut gallery, it was entirely reasonable for parents on Long Island and around the state to opt out of the unfair tests being inflicted upon their children. Attempting to find common ground on the Common Core is the smart way to improve public education.

ROBERT BERGER


Big Easy Shell Game
The Chief

September 18, 2015
 

To the Editor:

With the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina at hand, education reformers have been touting so-called miracle improvements in New Orleans since all the public schools were taken over by charters.

The truth is there has been widespread creaming of the best students and counseling out of the weakest ones, Eva Moskowitz style.

The New Orleans school district is now one of the lowest-performing districts in the state of Louisiana, which

itself is one of the lowest-performing states in the nation. Parents in the Crescent City are forced to entrust their children’s education to a game of three-card monte with two-bit Trump and Bloom berg wannabes.

Public schools are not perfect, but they do give parents the right to have a meaningful say in how their children are educated. You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

ROBERT BERGER


The Call Blog: School Begins; Speed Camera Enforcement Too

By The Call Staff


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Parents need to pay close attention to Governor Cuomo’s review of Common Core implementation.  Subjecting children to grueling tests and labeling them as failures benefits only the special interests bankrolling charter schools like Success Academy.  Finding common ground on the Common Core is the smart way to improve public education.

ROBERT BERGER, Bellerose


The Chief

September 4, 2015

To the Editor:

Aviation safety is literally a matter of life and death. There are many experts on the subject, but none greater than Captain Sullenberger, who has, indeed, “walked the walk.”

So his criticism of  Governor Cuomo for not including runway extension in his LaGuardia Airport redevelopment plan demands a response (New York Post, “Miracle on the Hudson pilot blasts LaGuardia makeover,” 8/17).

Cynics will say that there is a hidden agenda here—reserving the requisite space for a charter school—e.g. the SOAR (See Our Achievement Rise) Academy. Let’s hope it’s not true.

ROBERT BERGER


Letter: Rest stop politics, Cuomo style
Newsday

August 28, 2015 6:17 PM

New York residents who watched Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ram charter schools down Mayor Bill de Blasio's throat are familiar with Cuomo's style of governance.

Now Long Islanders are getting the Cuomo treatment. He ignored Huntington officials' environmental concerns and had the state Department of Transportation start work on a large rest area between exits 51 and 52 on the Long Island Expressway ["The wrong route to a rest stop," Editorial, Aug. 27].

In other words, it's my way or the highway.

ROBERT BERGER, Bellerose


Value of Dedicated Teachers
The Chief Leader
Friday, 28 August 2015

To the Editor:

Today one must realize that the responsibility for educating a child is placed squarely in the hands of the Teacher.

Teachers in the inner city are aware of this fact. And once the Teachers have rolled up their sleeves, the process begins with commitment, dedication, care and concern for a human soul.

For the students who have found Teachers who are there to support them on their education journey, I say, press on! These students are the fortunate ones, because it is their Teacher who must dream for them before they can dream for themselves. It is the Teacher who prepares children for a future which is not his/her own.

These exceptional tenured Teachers are fortunate because for every ounce of energy that they use to invest in the child, they will see the rewards of their investment in the child’s continued growth and development throughout the year.

PHYLLIS MURRAY


Walcott Identity Crisis
The Chief Leader

Friday, 28 August 2015

To the Editor:

It may not be quite as striking as Kennedy-Lincoln coincidences, but there are, nonetheless, uncanny aspects to Dennis Walcott’s appointment as state monitor for the East Ramapo Central  School District ("Walcott Will Oversee Upstate School Area Marred by Tensions," Aug. 21 issue).

The Superintendent of the East Ramapo District is mired in controversy. His name is Joel Klein (not the former city Schools Chancellor). While he was Schools Chancellor in New York City, Walcott championed charter schools. Now he is tasked with protecting public schools from private-school interests.

In New York City, Walcott decried a toxic climate created by the harsh rhetoric of both reformers and defenders of public education. Yet as soon as he gets to East Ra - mapo, he pours gasoline on the fire by saying, “We know when something stinks.”

Will the real Dennis Walcott please stand up?

ROBERT BERGER


Trust test
New York Daily News - Gifford, goons and gazebos
August 14, 2015

VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

Bellerose: President Obama would have us believe that we can live with giving Iran 24 days’ advance notice of nuclear inspections. Yet in New York State, teachers’ ratings are partially based on anywhere, anytime observations of their pedagogy by supervisors. Do we trust the Iranians more than our own people? 

ROBERT BERGER


Political Science Lesson
The Chief Leader
Friday, 21 August 2015

To the Editor:

Regarding Melissa Mejia, the young woman on the front page of the New York Post who said she did not deserve to graduate from Bryant High School ("Student's stunning plea: Why did NYC let me graduate from high school?"): Had she been a better student in the Government

class that she rarely attended, she might have realized that the newspaper would exploit her integrity to unfairly attack Mayor de Blasio for the credit-recovery policy that became widely accepted during the Bloomberg administration. Let that be a lesson to us all.

ROBERT BERGER


The Missing Catalyst
The Chief Leader
Friday, 17 July 2015

To the Editor:

The elephant in the room that’s missing from Geoffrey Canada’s vision of a partnership between business and government to revitalize themiddle class is labor (Daily News, “America’s promise to a new generation,” 7/5).

There is a close correlation between the decline in union membership over the last 35 years and the growth of inequality. It is not surprising that Canada thinks this way, since he has declared war on Teachers unions. But if he really believes that we can renew the American Dream without workers’ rights, he is sadly mistaken.

Even Superman can’t do that.

ROBERT BERGER


Vet Buy-Back Justice
The Chief Leader
Friday, 24 July 2015

To the Editor:

Governor Cuomo may have said more than he intended by predicating renewal of Mayor de Blasio’s single year of educational authority on whether or not he does a good job.

Under true mayoral control, that is for the voters to decide, not three men in a room in Albany, if they are able to stay out of jail.

ROBERT BERGER


Biff Trump?
The Chief Leader
08/07/2015

To the Editor:

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. After years of hectoring President Obama about his birth certificate, Donald Trump now needs to release his own medical records and college transcript.

He should also explain how he got a copy of Grays Sports Almanac.

ROBERT BERGER


To: NY 1: The Call Blog
Published as: Mayor Unveils $78.3 Billion Budget
May 7, 2015

It is refreshing to see Mayor de Blasio eschew the blame game and direct resources to the schools that need them the most, unlike Michael Bloomberg, who set them up for failure and called it education reform. Governor Cuomo needs to follow suit and stop the destructive rhetoric about inflicting the death penalty on schools.

Robert, Bellerose


To: The Albany Times
Published as: Spock would say testing is illogical
April 28, 2015 

Letters to the editor:

Standardized tests based on the Common Core learning standards are a real-life Kobayashi Maru – designed for failure. Kudos to the opt-out parents, who, like Captain Kirk, don’t believe in the no-win scenario.

Robert Berger, Bellerose


To: The Chief
Published as: Letter to the Editor Letter: Stand Up to Cuomo, Bill
April 27, 2015

First Governor Cuomo doubled down on Common Core tests. Then he went to Cuba. He is looking more and more like President Obama’s mini-me every day. Perhaps he is thinking about Senator Menendez, an outspoken critic of the President’s Iran policy, who was recently indicted on Federal corruption charges.

If Mayor de Blasio wants to run for President someday (Daily News, ‘De wrong guy to run,’ April 22 edition), he needs to take a bold position on Common Core tests. Have the Education Department do more to facilitate the opt-out process and conduct public forums to present both sides of the issue. That’s true leadership.

ROBERT BERGER


To: NY 1: The Call Blog
Published as: Tens of Thousands Boycott State English Tests
April 16, 2015

Standardized testing, which began as a mask for racism and bigotry in the 1920s, is still being used destructively today - to rank and sort students, teachers and schools without rhyme or reason. The stakes may not be as high as they were in the civil rights struggles of the generation before us, but the opt-out movement is following the just trail of civil disobedience blazed by Dr. King.

Robert, Bellerose


To: New York Daily News: Voice of the People
Published as: School testing, taxing drivers and Frank Sinatra
April 8, 2015

Deliver us from Eva

Bellerose: Voicer Eva Moskowitz whines that Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez has written 25 columns critical of her Success Academy charter schools. How many times has Moskowitz criticized public schools? If you can’t stand the heat, Eva, get out of the kitchen. 

Robert Berger


To: The Chief
Published as: Letter: Strike Back At Bully
April 6, 2015

Letter to the Editor

Governor Cuomo’s hollow boast on an Albany radio show that he defeated the powerful Teachers union by ramming his package of so-called education reforms through the Legislature are the words of a bully who blames the victim for his own aggression.

Teachers and other public employees will not have a level playing field until the Taylor Law, which denies them the internationally recognized human right to withhold their labor, is repealed.

ROBERT BERGER


To: New York Post
Published as: Discipline in the Classroom: Order Must Outweigh PC
March 17, 2015

Restorative justice programs should be part of a balanced discipline system in which there are clear and swift consequences for misbehavior (“Schools Gone Wild,” Paul Sperry, PostScript, March 15).

The longstanding practice of classifying the most violent and disruptive students as emotionally disturbed, and mitigating punishment on that basis, needs to be reexamined.

Robert Berger, Bellerose


To: NY 1: The Call Blog
Published as: Days Before Fare Hike, Queens Commuters Protest Subway Service
March 11, 2015

In light of the infrastructure issues concerning transit and roads, the City Council needs to pass a bill requiring employers to adjust disciplinary consequences for lateness accordingly.

Robert, Bellerose


To: NY 1: The Call Blog
Published as: Mayor De Blasio Touts Effort To Improve Struggling Schools
March 10, 2015

Closing schools is no answer to anything. Charter schools close too. There are no easy answers. It takes hard work and cash to get results.

Robert, Bellerose


The following comment was written in the online comments section of a February 6, 2015 New York Times article on DOE Chancellor Farina's changes to the school system. The comment was subsequently reprinted in the NY Times Metro Section on Sunday, February 15, 2015.

To: NYT Pick

Some of the talking heads in this piece - college professors and business types who have never taught a day in public school classrooms - would do well to keep their mouths shut. They add nothing but bias to these discussions. When they have their children in public schools or teach for a year in one, then talk to me.

As for charter schools and cherry picking, indeed they do. If you only pick from the children whose parents have assiduously searched for a school and actively entered a lottery, then you get only the kids whose parents are actively involved in their education. That is a form of cultural socio-economic discrimination that amounts to cherry-picking in a system largely "minority."

I've had the opportunity to meet some of the inexperienced principals mentioned in the article. Their lack of experience and wisdom was magnified by their inability to collaborate with educators older and wiser. All of which was a harm to the system, the teaching, the children, and worst of all, to the morale and enthusiasm of the educators themselves!

Vincent Gaglione, NYC

 


To: The NY Post
Published as: Education's OZ
January 25, 2015

 

Bob McManus conjured up the image of the “Wicked Witch of the West Side of Binghamton,” a fifth­ grade teacher, to build a case for Cuomo’s political agenda (“Testing Andrew,” PostOpinion, Jan. 20).

 

Sorry, Bob, the only Wicked Witches in education today are charter­ school advocates Eva Moskowitz and Campbell Brown. And their billionaire friends won’t be able to help them when they finally encounter Dorothy, because all the money in the world cannot buy the ruby slippers. As for Cuomo, he’s just one of the flying monkeys.

 

Robert Berger, Bellerose


To: Staten Island Advance
Published as: Government health care wasn't liberal idea
January 12, 2015

To the editor:

Many rant against "socialized medicine" in the U.S. They rant against Medicare and Medicaid, and even against Social Security.

When did Social Security and governmental health coverage appear for the first time in history? In the U.S.? No. In England? No. In Germany? Yes.

Who was the "Socialist" who introduced it? In the 1880's the very arch-conservative Chancellor Otto von Bismarck did it. Bismarck also was the "blood and iron" chancellor who disdained democracy.

The elements here in the U.S. who want to abolish Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the "Socialist" Obamacare now know that a 19th century arch-conservative German chancellor was responsible for the "Socialist madness."

During the early 20th century in the U.S., a politician had ideas that years later did come about during FDR's time, such as Social Security and health insurance. Who was it? It was that "bomb throwing" politician named President Theodore Roosevelt who was a Republican. Any questions?

P.S. Historians have rated FDR and Theodore Roosevelt as the third and fourth greatest presidents.


To: New York Times
Published as: A Toddler and a Gun
January 2, 2105

To the Editor:

Re “2-Year-Old Boy Sets Off Gun, Killing Mother in Idaho Store” (news article, Dec. 31):

If ever there was a quintessential American story that captures the ironies and controversies of the current cultural and political context, it is this one. It is filled with all the clichés.

“Walmart,” “tragedy,” “video,” “accidental,” “concealed weapon,” “guns are part of the culture here” and “not very smart” pretty much capture the range of elements of all the stories we seemingly read over and over.

Like all other similar stories, it was an event that was entirely preventable.

VINCENT GAGLIONE


To: Newsday-Letters OPINION
Published as: Giuliani has nerve advising de Blasio
January 13, 2015 3:48 PM

Rudy Giuliani has some nerve telling Mayor Bill de Blasio that he should apologize to the New York City Police Department ["Taking them to task," News, Dec. 29].

When will ex-Mayor Giuliani, who famously said the city Board of Education should be "blown up," apologize to teachers for his vituperative rants?

Robert Berger, Bellerose


To: The Chief Leader
Published as: What Fueled Protests
December 29, 2014

To the Editor:

Agree or disagree, the nationwide protests against police violence were entirely predictable.

By undermining the twin pillars of the social contract painstakingly constructed in the previous two centuries, public education and collective bargaining, right-wing Republicans and neoliberal Democrats have exposed the polity to revolutionary attack.

Robert Berger


To: The Daily News – Voice of the People
Published as: The Interview,' Cuba and police unions - Flunk the Governor
December 19, 2014

Bellerose: Gov. Cuomo should be celebrating, not dismissing the good news about New York City public school teachers (“Gov flunks eval grade escape,” Dec. 18). A new, more rigorous evaluation designed by State Education Commissioner John King has revealed that over 90% of teachers are effective or highly effective. Anyone with a real connection to public schools — parents, educators, students and community-based partners — intuitively knows this to be true. But instead, Cuomo demands a rigged evaluation system that will result in mass firings for his own political gain. This is immoral.

Robert Berger


To: The Chief Leader
Published as: Ye of Little Faith 
December 19, 2014

To the Editor:

Jenny Sedlis, executive director of StudentsFirstNY, claims that “civic-minded” hedge-fund managers spent millions lobbying and campaigning for charter schools out of the goodness of their hearts (“Teachout, WFP Back On Common Ground Rip Cuomo, Charters,” Dec. 12).

If you believe that, then you are ready to buy the Brooklyn Bridge. Once it’s privatized, why not?

Robert Berger

 


Published to: Florida newspaper blogs

In Illinois, they wanted to cut pensions benefits for teachers, state workers, and retirees.. and Judge (circuit court) struck down law to cut benefits. Judge John Belz sided with public sector, violated a clause in Illinois constitution protecting benefits. Judge added state promised in their constitution to protect benefits. The Attorney General of state will appeal decision to state Supreme Court...Most democrats(not all) defend unions, retirees , and what was promised to them. Many went into public sector , taking less money and often poor working conditions because of pensions and benefits as do many of our citizens who go into Armed services.(not only reasons, public service is an honor). In NYC, Police pension is a major reason they get many recruits, 50% of highest pay plus health benefits , after 20 years.(at 40, they get pension for life, plus latest insurance date, their life expectancy Is longer than average American)

Marty Weisberg, Coral Springs


Published to: Florida newspaper blogs

Highest illegals in proportion to their population: 1. Nevada.. 2. Calif... 3. Texas... 4. N.J. 5. Florida . 6. Arizona ...7. Maryland..

New study in Wall St. Journal, most people in US..are often wrong about social & demographic trends here in our country: They often overestimate the following: a) % of population comprised of immigrants(note; Puerto Ricans are citizens not immigrants). b) birthrate among teenagers..... c) % of Muslims in population.... d) rate of unemployment... Wall St. Journal, Nov. 22, 2014....by David Goldenberg...

Former President Harry Truman, Desegregation of Armed Forces, job & pay equality in federal govt. were executive orders that would never have passed in Congress at that time(maybe not to.day as well).... President Obama- executive orders to , lift ban on openly gay & lesbian troops. and Air Force & Navy to integrate women into their forces. Note: Some Generals (not all) were opposed to Truman's orders as well as Obama's. Note: Generals often wrong, that is why our President is commander in chief.(edit)

Marty Weisberg, Coral Springs


Published to: Florida newspaper blogs

Ms. Silverberg, in Norfolk VA., said her neighbor radiologist Wm. Wheeler hoisted Nazi flag in protest of Fuher Obama in a Jewish neighborhood, He said "Jews are Obama supporters". ...Nothing new, Charley, you can hoist your flag if your home owners approve. Nothing new: in 2011, Idaho, Postal worker, Gene Martin did same. In Stratford, Conn,in 2013 it was also hoisted and in 2014, in Georgia, Robin Warner flew a Nazi flag. All contend it was intended strictly against Obama. really? This backs up that many people that oppose our President are bigots .Some people are proud of above actions and some are ashamed.. Where do you stand? (legal to express yourself in a free country)

Marty Weisberg, Coral Springs


To: timesunion.com
Published as: Keep corporations out of classrooms
November 11, 2014

James Merriman is comparing apples and oranges when he juxtaposes public education with other services that are subject to market forces in varying degrees (“It takes a village to educate children,” Nov. 1). Public education is the centerpiece of our democracy because our nation decided long ago that the best way to provide every child with a first-class education is through a system of democratically controlled schools.

We need to reaffirm this commitment, and, yes, reclaim the promise by supporting the schools and teachers that educate our most disadvantaged students. We do them and ourselves a disservice by entrusting their education to the hucksters looking to turn a quick buck that Mr. Merriman represents. It takes a village to raise a child, not a corporation. The public should not be tricked on Halloween by a spokesman for charter school operators.

Robert Berger


To: The Chief Leader
Published as: NYPD Courtesy and Politics
November 7, 2014

To the Editor:

In a tendentious critique of Mayor de Blasio’s drive to reduce economic inequality, Joel Kotkin gives away the game with a gratuitous swipe at the Mayor’s education policy (Daily News, “Our Emerald City,” Oct. 26).

Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Fariña have repeatedly stated that they intend to make every school successful, which is vital to middle- and workingclassfamilies. On the other hand, charter- school operators like Eva Moskowitz seek to profit from a separate and unequal system. Bill may not be the Wizard, but there is no place for Wicked Eva in the Emerald City.

Robert Berger


To: The Chief Leader
Published as: Flip-Flop Devalues Teachers
October 24, 2014

To the Editor:

It is remarkable that attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson, who faced off inBush v. Gore, are both siding with corporate reformers in the war on public education (“NYSUT is Allowed To Join UFT Contesting Anti-Tenure Suits,” 10/17).

This odd legal couple abandons its own fundamental principles for the sake of a remedy that will accomplish nothing except to devalue the teaching profession. Progressives betray their commitment to employment rights, while conservatives embrace judicial activism when they turn to the court system to eliminate tenure.

Robert Berger


To: Catskill Mountain News
Published as: Think Before Voting for Rob Astorino
October 21 , 2014

To the Editor,

Think before voting for Rob Astorino. If he becomes governor, Mr. Astorino will, “reduce spending on unemployment..” Why would I vote for someone who would reduce spending on unemployment insurance and punish me, my family or my friend for losing a job? Don’t we pay into unemployment insurance when we work? Why should I vote for someone who would take my own money away from me in my time of need? Suppose his new limited unemployment benefit runs out before I finish my retraining classes at SUNY? No money - no more classes. And then what do I do to get a decent job?

Mr. Astorino will limit government mandates in education. Does that mean that, for example, the weekly 10+ hours mandated for resource room for special education students will be reduced to 5 hours? Or teachers and para-professionals get laid off and class size grows to 35 in kindergarten? Or any extra funds spent for science and math got the way of the dodo? Why would I vote for anyone who would reduce the education system of NYS to bare bones? 

Everyone tries to convince everyone else that taxes are some kind of evil in society. Taxes support the common welfare. Do you like your water clean? Do you like public education? Ever depend on the police or firemen who get paid? Happy the holes in the roads are fixed and bridges do not collapse? Maybe you are rich enough to build your own world, I am not. I depend on society, and it is past due time for every business and everyone who lives in this state to pay their fair share. I challenge Mr. Astorino to publish his program that...” cut spending and increased the safety net program”. Sounds like a magic trick.

Do not be embarrassed to tell your neighbors that you want governor who is willing to think of you - the working person, or the unemployed person, or your child in school. Who should you vote for? Should you keep voting for candidates who promises that as long as the rich do not have to pay NY taxes you may get a job in their factory? Will Mr. Astorino mandate the factory accept a union with good health benefits and health insurance? Think twice before voting to let the rich pay less taxes than the average worker. Even Governor Cuomo is only giving factories 10 years of no taxes.

Check out Howie Hawkins of the Green Party, check out Governor Cuomo. It is too long past due that we had a candidate whose program matched any of the greatness of the New Deal by FDR. And, by the way, FDR was a NYS governor before becoming president!

Janelle Barabash, Andes and Brooklyn


To: The Chief Leader
Published as: Deliver us from Eva Ruse
September 12, 2014

To the Editor:

It is interesting that Eva Moskowitz does not rule out running for Mayor in 2017 at a time when Bill de Blasio, whom she dismisses as a former Teachers union operative, is facing strong criticism for failing to distance himself from Rev. Al Sharpton (Daily News, “Staring Success in the Face,” 8/28).

She portrays herself as a momma-bear protecting New York City’s children. She is more like an ambitious hyena attacking wounded prey.

Robert Berger


To: Staten Island Advance 
To the Editor:

Michael Mulgrew is not a bully. Mr. Mulgrew is a Staten Island resident that experienced the same grief that all of us went through when we saw the tragic death of Eric Garner.

Mr. Mulgrew never accused any police officer of wrongdoing or misconduct. Along with thousands of others, frustrated by weeks of inaction, he asked for a thorough and complete official investigation of Mr. Garner's death.

As president of the UFT, he asked his members to join him at the recent protest march, and many of us did. He never forced anyone to march with him - we were glad to be there and show our support for Mr. Garner's family. We did not march against the police - a terrible, untruthful accusation - and we were not there for either Mr. Mulgrew, or Rev. Al Sharpton, or any other person. 

We marched for that most fundamental American value: justice for all.

(The writer is a retired NYC public school teacher.)

Tom Shcherbenko


To: NY1 Tonight - The Call - Viewer E-mail
Published as: The Call Blog: School Year Begins With Pre-K Classes And Charter Squabbles

Under the new UFT contract, PROSE schools have the opportunity to operate outside the boundaries of both DOE regulations and the contract. Charter schools such as Amber that have stayed true to their original mission of educating children are a good source of new ideas. Schools like Success Academy that game the system to inflate test scores have nothing to offer.

Robert, Bellerose, NY


To: The Chief Leader
Published as: Wake Up to Eva Ruse
July 4, 2014

To the Editor:

The shocking failure of even a single Success Academy charter-school graduate to pass the city’s rigorous entrance exam for specialized high schools (‘Teachout v. Cuomo and the Moskowitz Mandate,’ June 27 issue) should be a wake-up call for all New Yorkers.

Don’t believe the hype. Parents, what do you want for your children—Chancellor Fariña’s five c’s and one e (collaboration, communication, capacity-building, content and celebration, with an e for efficiency) or Moskowitz’s five p’s and one e (power, politics, propaganda, profit and privatization, with an e for exclusion)?

Robert Berger


To: The Daily News
Published as: Big broom time (Opinion section)
June 11, 2014

Bellerose: If Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña really wants collaboration in the Department of Education, she should follow the example of new Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson and clean house (“Out with the old at Brooklyn DA,” June 8). Confrontational principals like Greta Hawkins will never change their ways until the bureaucrats who orchestrated ex-Mayor Bloomberg’s war on teachers are shown the door (“Principal ‘tunes’ out U.S. again,” 6/8). 

Robert Berger


To: The Chief
Published as: End Principal Abuses
June 13, 2014

To the Editor:

It is ironic that alleged bully Principal Marcella Sills will receive due process from the Department of Education (Letter, “Nightmare of a Principal” June 6 issue), while during the previous administration Teachers were faced with kangaroo courts, where the Principal’s judgment was never questioned.

Chancellor Fariña should convene a truth-and-reconciliation commission to review disciplinary actions

taken against Teachers by Principals like Sills.

She should also request the resignation of Department of Education officials who enabled abusive supervision.

That would really be education reform.

Robert Berger


To: The Chief
Published as: Conspiracy Theory
May 30, 2014

To the Editor:

The Daily News is playing a cynical game by giving so much coverage to the dissident MORE Caucus in the UFT "New study plans," 5/17). This faction is opposed to the proposed contract because it purports to be more militant than Michael Mulgrew in the defense of Teacher rights.

The News, on the other hand, wants to discredit Mayor de Blasio and pave the way for Eva Moskowitz to become the next Mayor.

MORE and the News are trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for UFT members, who have waited too long for a fair contract. Politics makes strange bedfellows.

Robert Berger


To: The NY Post
Published as: Teachers' New Contract: Will it Bleed the City Dry?
May 7, 2014

To the Editor:Teachers and school personnel who have worked many years without a contract deserve recognition and respect for their dedication and loyalty. To say that New York City can’t afford the teachers’ contract defies logic.

There is no statement showing that the city cannot afford to give financial breaks to big corporations and companies over the years. There is no outcry that the city can’t afford to pay. There is no statement to show that the city lost millions of dollars trying to negotiate a new computer payroll system, only to be ripped off through fraud. There is no outcry over that, either.

There is no statement to show that the prices for utilities and gasoline have increase rapidly. Again, no outcry.

This logic and reasoning lacks credibility. It is shameful and not justified.

Winston Silvera


To: The Chief
Published as: The Charter Myth
March 7, 2014

To the Editor:

The New York Post has been assiduously promoting the specious claim that progressives should support charter schools by citing the urban myth that charter schools outperform genuine public schools.

In fact, the largest national study of the issue, conducted by Stanford University, provides no basis for the purported advantage.

The question the Post really needs to ask is why conservatives should back charter schools. Is it conservative to undermine public schools, a fundamental American institution that is a cornerstone of our democracy? Is it conservative to create a wasteful, dual system of public education that failed miserably in the one country in which it was implemented, Pinochet’s Chile?

Robert Berger


To: Staten Island Advance 
Published: Universal pre-k will benefit all city residents
February 21, 2014

You may have seen my daughter and me the last couple on Fridays in the ferry terminal talking to people about the mayor’s plan for improving early childhood education.

Some people have the wrong idea about this plan, and believe it’s some kind of Robin Hood scheme. These programs don’t just benefit people with children. Early childhood education and after-school programs help all of us, by reducing the high school dropout rate, teen-age pregnancy, and the influence of gangs.

Every New Yorker pays for the problems associated with a lack of high-quality education for our youth. The mayor’s plan is to tax those making more than $500,000, an amount less than $1,000 and dedicate this money to universal pre-K and after-school programs for every middle school.

I doubt that millionaires will flee the city over $1,000, and I believe most of them support this idea.

Tom Shcherbenko


To: Staten Island Advance 
Published: UPK would help all
February 16, 2014

You may have seen my daughter and I the last couple Fridays in the Ferry terminal talking to people about UPKNYC, the Mayor’s plan for improving early childhood education.

Some people have the wrong idea about this plan, and believe it’s some kind of Robin Hood scheme. These programs don’t just benefit people with children: Early childhood education and after-school programs help all of us, by reducing the high school dropout rate, teenage pregnancy, and the influence of gangs. Every New Yorker pays for the problems associated with a lack of high quality education for our youth.

The Mayor’s plan is to tax those making more than $500K, an amount less than $1,000, and dedicate this money to universal pre-k and after-school programs for every middle school. I doubt that millionaires will flee the city over $1,000, and I believe most of them support this idea.

Tom Shcherbenko


To: NY1 Tonight - The Call - Viewer E-mail
Published as: The Call Blog: City To Reverse Several School Co-Locations

Charter school advocates like Eva Moskowitz and Michelle Rhee who are "waiting for Superman" should be careful what they wish for. Superman was an implacable foe of their ideological progenitors during the Second World War.

Robert Berger


To: letters@nytimes.com
Published as: Volkswagen workers reject UAW

Trade unions may be good at negotiating wages, benefits and working conditions, but they are not very competent in the current political environment. Unfortunately, they see politics in a small time frame during an election season to contribute to candidates and recommend endorsements to their union members. This is one, but certainly not all of the reasons union workers have dropped to only 11% of the workforce which has contributed to the greatest income disparity in America since 1928. If unions are to expand, they must get much better at politics with their members and the general public.

All the UAW had to do was convince 42 more Volkswagen workers to vote "yes" and they'd have a union at the plant. To lose a union vote when management is completely neutral and invites UAW representatives into their plant to talk to workers, shows the depth of UAW incompetence at organizing.

Where were the UAW billboards to counter the Grover Norquist's ads? Also, if you're wondering why an anti-tax guy(Norquist)is involved in an internal union vote, we can't look at his fundraising because it's secret. But I suspect the Koch brothers money is financing the Norquist effort.

Also, did the UAW send mailings to the workers' homes? Did they phone workers at home? Did they have informal meetings at members’ homes and elsewhere? Did they do supportive TV ads to win over workers and the general public? Finally, where were a few public officials to counter the Republican officials anti-union campaign?

In short, the UAW is in a time warp and not ready for the 2014 political reality. In my opinion, for unions to survive, they must have a 365 day campaign to educate and motivate its members and their families on politics, and win over the general public in a public information campaign.

Unless unions get serious about succeeding and expanding in the current hostile political environment, which will help reestablish and increase a financially stable middle class, they will go the way of the dinosaur.

Frank Lupo


To: NY1 Tonight - The Call - Viewer E-mail
Published as: The Call Blog: Mayor De Blasio Unveils Budget Plan; No Specifics On Union Contracts

Teachers and nurses should get retroactive pay - 4% annually for two years that other city workers got. Pattern bargaining has been city policy in good times and bad for almost 50 years; a policy that arbitrators have consistently supported.

Robert Berger


To: Tampa Bay Times
Published as: Sink/Jolly poll

The House of Representative has voted 47 times to repeal "Obamacare". Each time it could not muster the votes to pass. Hard to believe that a candidate for Congress thinks it is a good selling point to tell voters that he intends to continue this monumental waste of time. The House has not passed a single bill and wayward Republicans make Speaker Boehner impotent. Why do we want to be represented by another contributor to a dysfunctional, do-nothing Congress? And even if Jolly were successful, what does he propose to replace the law, provide security for the millions of uninsured, close the doughnut hole, bring down health costs, lift the cap on benefits, cover pre-existing conditions and children to a 26 on their parents' plan? Nothing. Get off the Obamacare dead end an start giving us ideas about other issues or I have no idea why I would vote for you. Sink, without Jolly's fixations, seems like a better choice for ending the antics of the House.

Lynne Winderbaum


To: NY1 Tonight - The Call - Viewer E-mail
Published as: The Call Blog: Days Before State Of City Address, Mayor De Blasio Focuses On Improving Roadways
February, 2014

The UFT should receive retroactive pay - the pattern of two 4% raises that other unions got - but with 5% interest compounded annually as well, in recognition of the campaign of abuse, vilification and harassment that Bloomberg directed at teachers that no other city workers endured.

Robert Berger


To: The New York Post
Published as: de Blasio's Charter Scheme: An attack on his voter
February 7, 2014

For all her 1984-style rhetoric about how de Blasio is attacking the 99 percent by not turning over $210 million in tax money to charterschool operators like
herself ("Parents Blast de Blasio's War on Charter Schools," Feb. 2), Eva Moskowitz cannot evade this simple truth: The phrase "public charter schools" is an
oxymoron.

Robert Berger


As More Pupils Learn Online, Skepticism Rises" (April 6, 2011) brought back memories of my last year teaching high school history in New York City. When I made homework and projects a significant percentage of my final grade, several of my students informed me that I gave too much work. They stated that they would simply signed up to take a recovery credit course instead. These courses did not require any writing at all. Students were simply required to answer multiple choice questions or fill in the blanks. These credits are simply designed to increase passing rates and have nothing to do with education. Further proof of that is your reference to the teacher, who is paid to have an average of 4 minutes per week per student, did not recognize an answer as plagiarized. There are several excellent computer programs to catch plagiarism. Online classes in college come with these. Why not high school classes online classes? However, I see this as the wave of the future. Education on the cheap with profits going to private industry, while eliminating all too human teachers. Is it a coincidence that while the mayor is threatening to lay off teachers, the Department of Education is pouring millions of dollars into questionable technology "City Schools - Online Surge Despite Cuts" (March 30, 2-011)?

Anne Lipke
Retired History Teacher, NYC DOE


To: Washington Post 
March 14, 2011

Your article "State and local workers: Gone but not off the books" should have been entitled "Closing the loopholes”. The defined benefit pension system was never intended to enrich individuals such as Bruce Malkenhart. Its intention was two-fold. First, its aim was to provide a modest pension to retirees to prevent them from immediately falling into the poverty level.

Secondly, its aim was to help stabilize the American economy by providing a constant source of consumer spending during downturns in the American business cycle.

Neither of these admirable goals can be achieved by a 401K retirement plan which reduces the flow of money to retirees and subsequently to the American economy during economic downturns.

Your article correctly points the existence of loopholes in the defined benefit pension system. These abuses should be and are being eliminated. However, it would be foolhardy and counterproductive to throw out the baby with the bath water. The defined pension benefit system has served America well.

John Soldini
Retired NYC teacher


To: Washington Post 
March 11, 2011
Response to: State and local workers: Gone but not off the books

To the Editor:

This article mentions everything but the one fact worth reporting.

It describes well all the public employee pension excesses that have been reported ad nauseam over the past several months in media around the country. It gives some nods to the fact that public employees and their unions decry these abuses as do the general public. And it concludes with stories about how defined benefit pension plans are now being eliminated and supplanted with 401k’s in many states and communities. As the current recession and financial scandals proved, only where pension programs are funded and managed appropriately, is there security for retirement for the ordinary American worker.

What the article unfortunately fails to say explicitly is that these stories of the abuses of public pensions have been used by anti-union and anti-labor elements, including Republican governors, to the detriment of ordinary workers and to eliminate their defined benefit pensions that their unions NEGOTIATED with their employers.

Vincent T. Gaglione
Retired NYC teacher


To: Washington Post 
Response to: State and local workers: Gone but not off the books
March 11, 2011

Public employment requires people who are highly educated in many government slots. These workers make less of a salary than those in the private sector according to a study by the city controller of New York. To attract career workers governments gave a compensation package of a defined pension benefit and health insurance. That defined benefit pays a decent pension for people who stay on the job for a long time and gain experience many of those pension plans are deferred compensation plans. My understanding of this is that workers gave up higher salaries so that the government which they worked for, put it in a pension trust fund, to my knowledge 401K’s were created as a supplement to the defined benefit not a replacement. There are people that do take advantage of the laws but that is not the overwhelming majority of us, It was mainly private sector employers who substituted defined contributions for a defined benefit and employees lost the best secure benefit that they had for retirement. Just remember Enron and the Wall Street crash of 2008 to recall the value of what was left in employees 401k.’s. These examples which everyone seems to be forgetting were economic tragedies

Doreen Ellis
Retired NYC teacher


To: New York Times 
Response to: Limit Pay, Not Unions
February 28, 2011

As a former teacher, I am shocked and saddened by the lies in Mayor Bloomberg's column. No way does any teacher I know or the union allow or believe that convicted criminals or teachers unable to get certification should remain in the classroom. The union even, over the objections of the last chancellor, quickens the fair hearings procedures to remove incompetent teachers and eliminate the Rubber Room. We are professionals who want the best for children. We work to retain and improve all teachers. What the mayor does want is a work force totally under his thumb. He wants to be able to eliminate senior teachers who become too expensive or those who advocate too loudly for their students without having to answer to anyone. And in order to get his way, this mayor is not only willing to lie, but to hurt our students by demanding new procedures for layoffs that aren't financially needed even as raise class size. If the mayor cared about the students of New York he would be willing to cuts at Tweed, including ongoing teacher recruitment, and/or work to extend the millionaire's tax and/or use his surplus. And he would tell the truth!

Anne Lipke
Retired NYC high school teacher


To: The Chief
Published as: Probation for King
November 15, 2013

To the Editor:

Ron Isaac feels that State Education Commissioner King should be given the opportunity to change (“King Seeing the Light?” Nov. 8 letter.) Fair enough—everybody deserves a second chance. However, he should held accountable to the same standard he demands of Teachers, who are charged with incompetence after two consecutive ineffective ratings.

Another arrogant implosion, like his Cathie Blackstyle refusal to listen to parents and Teachers at the Poughkeepsie town hall meeting, is sufficient cause for his removal. Two strikes and you’re out.

Robert Berger


To: The Chief
Published as: King a Commoner Bully
November 1, 2013

State Education Commissioner John King acted like a cowardly bully who retreats in the face of determined opposition. When severely criticized at the initial New York State PTA town hall meeting on the Common Core standards in Poughkeepsie, he canceled his appearances at the remaining four sessions around the state.

This is behavior unworthy of a public official in our democracy and sets a poor example for children. He castigated the speakers at the event as “special interests.”

Really? Well-informed parents and educators are not special interests. They are precisely the people he needs to hear from the most.

Under intense pressure amid calls for his resignation, King rescheduled new, more-controlled forums, none of which ill take place in New York City. Yet the Daily News considers him a hero (“Long live the King,” 10/21).

A more apt title for the editorial is “The Emperor (King) has no clothes.”

Robert Berger


To: The Chief
Published as: Mayoral Blessing
October 18, 2013

Are you smarter than a seventh grader? Here’s a possible amendment to the Bloomberg question on the city English Language Arts test (“Seventh-Grade Test Question on Bloomberg’s Career Worries Teachers, Parents,” Daily News, Oct. 3): “Getting fired from a Wall Street job was a blessing for Mayor Bloomberg because he dusted himself off, started his own business, and became one of the richest men in America. However, it was a curse for public education because he developed an irrational belief that the best way to help kids is to fire teachers.”

If Dennis Walcott really cannot understand why a student would be reluctant to answer the original question in this way, he is no more qualified to be Schools Chancellor than Cathie Black.

Robert Berger

 

Edited with Online HTML Editor

User login
Enter the email address you used to sign up at UFT.org.
 
If you don't have a UFT.org profile, please sign up.
Forgot your password?