Sunday Opinion: Firing teachers, dissing the rooftop highway, and No to assisted suicide

Morning, folks.  Here’s our weekly wrap of the opinions shaping this weekend’s breakfast conversations around the North Country.

The Glens Falls Post-Star is arguing that it should be easier to fire incompetent teachers.  They cite a recent case in Queensbury, where dismissing a Spanish teacher required a lengthy process that cost $340,000.

It shouldn’t be very easy to remove a teacher. School boards and administrators have been known to capriciously target unpopular or unconventional instructors….

But given that the sole focus of our educational system should be to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for our children in which to learn, it shouldn’t be so difficult to remove incompetent or inappropriate teachers either.

The process needs to be fair to the employee. But it shouldn’t make so many allowances toward the employee as to be unfair to his employers, the children, or the citizens footing the bill.

The Plattsburgh Press-Republican looks at the history of the debate over a “rooftop highway” running between Plattsburgh and Watertown, and concludes that this may be an idea whose time has come and gone.

While the Rooftop Highway is a great idea in theory, it is unlikely to secure the needed federal funding in these days of budget constraints.

The effort was started back in different times with different priorities and different resources. There have been 50 years of lethargy on the proposal for a reason.

The Watertown Daily Times is weighing the value of an informed electorate, pointing to a recent poll that showed a lot of Americans woefully ignorant about the basic tenets of their own government.

Three out of 10 did not know the president headed the executive branch, while even more — 40 percent — did not know that the legislative branch makes law. Just 55 percent knew it was the role of the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of laws.

Only 42 percent of respondents answered all three questions correctly.

(We know In Box readers would ace this quiz…)

The Albany Times-Union points out that a property tax cap at 2% would have triggered far deeper cuts of salaries and programs in many Upstate school districts, describing the approach as “a deceptively simple solution.”

We’ve supported a tax cap, just as we supported the need for the state to rein in its own spending. We understood any meaningful reduction had to include school aid.

We’ve also maintained that a cap must come with intelligent reforms. Like relief from mandates handed down by the same Legislature that lambastes schools for spending too much. Like a look at relying more on income taxes than property taxes.

Don’t be fooled, New York, by sound bites that promise to solve all your cares in 30 seconds or less. For those of us for whom school has long been out, there is still a ton of homework to do.

And finally this morning, the Burlington Free Press weighs in against a measure in Vermont that would allow physician-assisted suicide.

Proponents of the bill call it patient choice or death with dignity. Oppo­nents call the act physi­cian- assisted suicide or doctor-prescribed death.

In this debate, all labels are loaded with meaning. The disagreements about what to call the act reflects the great unease many people on both sides feel about allowing even terminally ill patients to end their own lives at a time of their choosing with a doctor’s help.

Choice and dignity are powerful words, as is sui­cide.

Is Vermont ready for an act when people are un­comfortable calling it for what it is?

The bill as written is a charade. We need to call the act for what it is.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise’s opinion page wouldn’t load this morning, so I haven’t included them in the morning round-up.  I’ll check back later to see what they’re thinking about.

So have at it — any thoughts to share?  Any other opinion pages you think others should know about?  Comment below.

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11 Comments on “Sunday Opinion: Firing teachers, dissing the rooftop highway, and No to assisted suicide”

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  1. Pete Klein says:

    Suicide should be legal, assisted or do-it-yourself. The problem comes from the false belief that the state owns the citizens.
    Oh, wait! I forgot that the state and religions think we are their slave property.

  2. Bret4207 says:

    “The Glens Falls Post-Star is arguing that it should be easier to hire incompetent teachers. ”

    I think you meant “fire incompetent teachers”… least I hope you did!

  3. tourpro says:

    I sure you mean “fire” incompetent teachers, but there is no small amount of irony is saying “hire”.

  4. Bob S says:

    A competent adult should have the right to opt out of a life that has become unbearable to live. That is a personal decision that is no one else’s business. For a very good discussion of this issue I recommend Susan Jacoby’s latest book “Never Say Die”.

  5. Jim Bullard says:

    I don’t understand how it is “humane” to put a terminally ill pet down (our choice) but to deny people who are terminally ill and competent to make that decision for themselves the same option.

  6. Mervel says:

    There is a huge difference between proactively killing someone and not taking extraordinary measures to prolong their life in an artificial way.

    Also what does terminally ill mean today?

    Many many competent adults who are suffering from depression who have indeed attempted suicide are very very happy today that they did not succeed. Of course with help they might have succeeded.

  7. Mervel says:

    How does a doctor screen for that? How would you know that the person you are killing would not change their mind the hour after you killed them?

  8. Walker says:

    Mervel, there are pretty reliable screening tools for depression.

    Besides, I think most assisted suicide laws are written for terminally ill patients; surely you wouldn’t have a problem with assisted suicide if it was limited to the terminally ill?

  9. Mervel says:

    Yes I would still have a problem.

    If you are really terminally ill than death would not need to be hurried along; stopping treatment and aggressive pain control would work.
    Assisted suicide laws in my opinion are not really for the terminally ill which is why I have a problem with them. We already have the choice to stop treatment.

    Now I would certainly be in favor of any competent adult choosing to not receive medical treatment particularly at the end of their life, in addition at that point they should be given the option of treating their pain as they see fit. Both of those would probably speed their death, but killing is not their goal. I have a problem with taking human life, including suicide, the death penalty, abortion, unjust war and violence in general; to me these things are all related.

  10. Pete Klein says:

    I find it interesting that people who believe in a hereafter and often say they can hardly wait for the end of the world are so fearful of death.
    Oh, I know, they say suicide will result in going to Hell and helping someone commit suicide will also result in going to Hell but we are talking belief, not provable fact. But if that is what you believe, it shouldn’t be a problem for you because I don’t think anyone is arguing for a law that would require you to commit suicide or even require you to help someone commit suicide. So don’t worry. You can still get to go to Heaven because we all know you are a really good person and deserve nothing less than Heaven.

  11. Mervel says:

    So you are a Catholic Pete?

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