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A Divide to Conquer

To the Editor:

It is troublesome to watch the divide between those of means and those without widening at such an astronomical pace, in particular as it pertains to public education. New York state statistics indicate that in the 2003-2004 school year, 51 percent of the children in Albany schools were eligible for free or reduced lunch, and just two years later, in the 2005-2006 school year, the percentage had increased to 61 percent.

Several weeks ago I read an article in Metroland [“School of Hard Questions, Oct. 11”] in which City Comptroller Tom Nitido shared his experience with the City School District when attempt-ing to have his child enrolled in pre- kindergarten at one of Albany’s three elementary magnet schools. Mr. Nitido shared with the reader, in great detail, how the current system created its own opportunity to be manipulated by those who had influence. The Times Union did a follow-up article on Oct. 20, “Bypass for Albany School Lottery Denied.”

Several observations disturbed me about the Metroland article but one statement, quite frankly, chilled me to my core. When the city comptroller was asked whether or not he would consider enrolling his child in a public school after pre-kindergarten, Mr. Nitido replied: “I wouldn’t send my child to a school that had 60 percent underprivileged children in the class. But because Albany has such a small African-American middle class, race becomes synonymous with class.”

Words like these echo to a distant past when “separate but equal” was the law of the land. It is shocking and more than a little disconcerting in this day and age for an elected official to make such an insensitive comment, with its serious overtones of both elitism and racism. I, for one, am bewildered by his words, and can only wonder what his real views are on the widening divide between those of means and those who live without many of the basic necessities of life.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Although written over 50 years ago, the words put to paper by Pastor Martin Niemoller are as true today as they were then.

Silence gives consent. In good conscience I cannot be silent.

Betty J. Barnette, Albany City Treasurer

You’re Too Funny

To the Editor:

Thank you for your item on Channel 6 and its foray into advocacy [“Advocacy at 11,” Newsfront, Nov. 21]. For quite some time now the one-trick-pony aspect of Tom Tomorrow has rendered that comic strip quite unfunny. I was appreciative that in your Thanksgiving Issue, you seem to have arranged for Chet Hardin to step into that breach quite manfully. Alan Chartock bemoaning the presence of advocacy in the news-gathering media. In Metroland, no less. How droll. No one can ever accuse Metroland of lacking a sense of humor.

As I wander off deeper into my 60s, I am rewarded by increasingly frequent naps spiced by reveries. Today’s was a corker, for which you most certainly get credit. In it I was in some type of disembodied state, floating outside the Channel 6 headquarters in Niskayuna. Beneath me I see a figure in a trench coat looking like a blend of the features of Lisa Jackson and Humphrey Bogart. She is talking to a person in uniform, with gold braid and sort of a high-crowned chauffeur’s cap, who looks like a cross between Claude Rains and Alan Chartock. In the background I can see a Chet Hardin-like policeman bustling off Michelle Smith in a vaguely threatening manner. The Chartock-Rains character loudly pronounces to the Jackson-Bogart character, “Lisa, I am shocked, shocked, to find there is advocacy going on in this establishment.” He then turns dramatically and marches to his car and opens the door. When he does so, however, a bag of campaign buttons spills out of the car. The buttons have been struck with a “Cuomo for Governor” slogan on them, and then were overstruck with a slogan “Patrick for Governor.” Chartock pushes the bag upright and back into the car, brusquely slams the door, and drives off.

I can hardly wait for next week’s issue.

Dave Kellogg, Albany

Correction

In the feature story “One Life at a Time” [Nov. 8], Albany Common Councilman Corey Ellis was misidentified as a “successful attorney.” Ellis worked at a law firm, but is not an attorney, and did not represent himself as such.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters addressed to the editor. Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length or clarity; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are anonymous, illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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Letters, Metroland

419 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12210

e-mail: metroland@metroland.net

fax: 463-3726


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