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Retired Teachers Chapter News

Write letters against constitutional convention

New York Teacher

Because it is so important that we inform our retiree members about the upcoming vote on a state constitutional convention, I have asked Gerri Herskowitz, the director of Retiree Programs, to write this month’s column.
— Tom Murphy, Retired Teachers Chapter leader

An important type of writing that educators teach their students is persuasive writing — writing that presents effective and clear reasons and examples to influence a reader’s action or thought.

Writing a letter to the editor is a form of persuasive writing that should be a short, concise response to something you have read in a newspaper.

With the constitutional convention looming, now is the time for us to practice what we taught. It is vital that we get the message out about how important a NO vote is for retirees.

Below are guidelines for writing a letter to the editor and a template with important points you can make.

Guidelines for Writing a Letter to the Editor

  • Respond promptly — do not wait more than a couple of days to comment on a newspaper article.
  • Facts and figures must be accurate — do the research.
  • Be concise, focused and polite — provide a succinct single argument if disagreeing with something in an article.
  • Create a title — place in subject line.
  • Address the letter to “Dear Editor.”
  • Place the text in the body of the email — no attachments.
  • Limit your letter to two or three paragraphs — 200 word limit.

Paragraph 1: State the purpose of the letter and name the article you are responding to. Introduce the problem and sum up your objection — make your point early.

Paragraph 2: Write a few sentences to support your view — cite sources, provide documentation.

Paragraph 3: Summarize your argument — end with a clever line.

Include your name, address, email address and phone number in the email — you may request your name not be published, but you must provide that information so that the newspaper can validate your identity.

If your submission is chosen you will receive a personal response within a week to 10 days.

Letter to the Editor template

(New York State Alliance for Retired Americans)

Newspaper address

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, assurance of access to nursing care and labor standards.

(Alternate paragraphs — choose one:)

  1. Seniors should understand that the state constitution provides protection against age discrimination. This is especially important on the job and in seeking employment as about one-third of 65- to 75-year-olds in New York still work and make up a significant portion of the workforce.
  2. Seniors should understand that the state constitution provides important labor protections, setting the standards for the minimum wage, workday hours and fairness in how overtime is paid.
  3. Seniors, who use the absentee ballot more than any other group, should understand that the state constitution provides important protections that ensure their voting rights.
  4. Retirees who depend on their pensions can lose them. This will result in a dramatic blow to the state’s economy as those pensions create 216,000 jobs, contribute $35 billion to the economy and result in $4.13 billion in New York State taxes.

There are already better ways to modify the constitution than by opening it up to wholesale changes that put rights and protections at risk.

For additional information see comments.

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