In a previous essay, I asked; Why Do We Have Schools?
Parents and other family members took on the major responsibility for teaching children whatever it was they thought they should know. As in much of the animal kingdom, the adults play a very important role in teaching their young what they need to know to survive. We are born and eventually we die. Those who best learn how to survive, usually live the longest. But is that really true for us humans?
My mother used to say, “ignorance is bliss.” There are times that I believe her, but in most cases, ignorance will not get you very far in life. When settlers first came to the New World, they embarked on a bold adventure. There were new challenges and survival was just one of them. After living in relative freedom for over 100 years, the rule of the King began to take its toll on some of those freedoms. From this frustration came the words; “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Where does that quote come from? If you cannot answer that question, then our schools have failed. The founding fathers realized that if each generation after them were not taught about the reasons for the revolution and the documents developed as a result of their frustrations with the king, then the experiment would fail. They knew the importance of teaching the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States to future generations. That is one answer to the title question.
In the early days of our country, our society had that role. Parents had that role.
The question of whether AllOtsego should publish any editorial opinions was raised, weeks ago, on these pages.
The importance of timely editorial opinions for readers who are often ill-informed or baffled by complex issues was obvious after the recent, very controversial, Cooperstown Board of Education meeting. Many attended or subsequently read about that meeting. The issue was whether “Critical Race Theory” should be taught in Cooperstown or elsewhere. AllOtsego had no timely editorial on the subject. Fortunately, the Oneonta Daily Star did.
As the Star editors suggested, no one has suggested that teachers should be required to teach or believe Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRT is simply a theory that teachers can consider and perhaps discuss with high school students. Citizens and parents should be encouraged to google CRT online to determine for themselves whether the theory is dangerous in any way. The Star editorial suggested that teachers should not be prohibited from discussing the concept of race, or why racism exists, or whether it is systemic in our society, with their students. Presumably very few—on the political left or right—want to allow students to be politically indoctrinated. But teachers should be allowed (and encouraged) to discuss many important theories without being intimidated by hysterical parents or administrators!
Our community is fortunate to have the Friends of the Village Library to organize important conversations and events like the “Looking in the Mirror” program. I have attended a few of the series including racism in education and in healthcare and had come to expect a decent program when tuning in.
On Feb. 10, I listened to The Cooperstown Reflects on Racism and Law Enforcement Series with my wife hoping for an invigorating and forward-thinking conversation.
The event had the express goals of:
1) Examine the impact of racism on our community and institutions;
2) Learn how to confront bias and inequities locally;
3) Identify actions that individuals, groups, and the community can take to address racism and create a more equitable Cooperstown.
The speakers during their presentations and the Q&A did not address, examine or achieve any of these goals. I have spent the last four months thinking about this event and pondering what can be done to jumpstart the difficult discussion that works to foster the growth and honest conversation needed if we are to address the goals of the series.
Often when we ask ourselves a question, it brings up another question. You might ask, “what is a school?” Merriam-Webster offers that it is; “an organization that provides instruction: such as … an institution for the teaching of children.”
Okay, so why do we have these institutions known as schools? For as long as there have been humans, there has been the need for the young to learn. Some learning is instinctive.
Some learning is necessary for survival. Each civilization had its own reasons beyond that for children to learn. It may have been to perpetuate the culture. It may have been to reinforce the religion or other beliefs. It may have been to go beyond just basic survival and learn how to enhance life.
Protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, no one is advocating teaching critical race theory at CCS or any other K-12 school for that matter. Discrimination and prejudice based upon race and class is a documented feature of American history. They say that those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. Our country can ill afford to repeat the sins of our past, so we’d better start educating our children now.
Critical race theory in schools is a false flag being raised by right-wing media to inflame viewers, and it’s obviously working.
Here’s hoping that our school board is wise enough not to react to fear mongering.
“Critical Race Theory is a framework for viewing U.S. legal history that is widely discussed in law school classes, and has occasionally been used to guide anti-racism training in universities, businesses and government agencies. But it has never been used, anywhere in the country, to shape the development of curriculum in K-12 schools. Treating it as a threat to public education is not only disingenuous, it is creating an atmosphere of panic that will discourage instruction in Black history, indigenous history and the history of race and immigration in the United States.
Culturally responsive pedagogy is not Critical Race Theory.Treating it as such will have profoundly destructive consequences. Do not give in to the hysteria,” Dr. Mark Naison, professor of African American studies and history, Fordham University.
On June 26, 2019, Hometown Oneonta published an opinion letter that I wrote with the intention of honoring and defending a local sect most people know as “The Twelve Tribes.”
I want to apologize to everyone who read that letter, especially in Oneonta, for misrepresenting those people. Since I used to visit them on and off for many years, I know from firsthand experience that they claim a monopoly on “the body of Messiah” and God’s approval, and that without joining their sect no one has God’s approval and the best that non-members can hope for is a mediocre place in heaven.
The problem with such theology is that it creates pride, competition, and division among Christians and other churches, defeating the purpose the Twelve Tribes have and claim to live by namely to love and be united with all other believers.
The strongest point I tried to make in my June 2019 letter, was that no one in their house or restaurant has ever abused their children and that their accusers were wrong for saying they do. The problem with child abuse is that it’s very difficult to prove when the children are happy, content, and most notably, brainwashed by their parents.
This is the case with the children who are living in the Twelve Tribes. So because I now know this, I will think twice before honoring and defending a church or sect without knowing all the facts about them.
To ALL Cooperstown Villages Residents regarding the 10 Chestnut Street project:
Zoning laws are to protect one’s investment and quality of life in a community. When zoning laws are allowed to be exceeded with “special permits,” it weakens the law.
The 10 Chestnut Street project is zoned residential and historical.
Does this project qualify for the quaint small town atmosphere that residents and visitors from around the world expect? The project exceeds the zoning laws in several categories.
It is a nice façade to a behemoth building in that space? Consider: 13 apartments with 21 rooms on 0.33 acre and 0.14 acre, 21 parking spaces, with no visitor parking and no place for children to play.
Have those that have written or are voicing their support of the project considered the quality of life and investments of others?
This is a slippery slope. Where will the next project be? In what neighborhood?
Let us make it clear. We are not opposed to development of this property within the zoning laws which were rewritten just two years ago!
We would enthusiastically welcome this!
We are for zoning laws that protect our quality of life and investment AND YOURS!
These days, much more than ever, there seems to be music playing in the background of almost every dramatic television program.
Years ago an experimental show called Cop Rock was aired for a while. It blended the drama with musical numbers. The songs were about what was happening in the story.
I thought it was a great idea but at that time it didn’t catch on. I was thinking of writing a story for several weeks but I wasn’t sure where to send it. In the meantime, a spontaneous score for the story kept playing in my mind. In fact, there’s always some kind of music going through my head — depending on the mood and situation I’m in. This was true of the title character in the movie “The English Patient” and I was wondering if this phenomenon was what jump-started the recent trend of music once again prominently being blended into a story. Again, unlike scores for cinema, this type of musical background also has words and the words reflect what’s going on in the plot.
The League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area joins the New York State Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Association, Inc. in supporting state legislation that would create a task force to study the unique problems facing ambulance services in rural areas of New York State and to propose long-term solutions for them.
The League believes that every resident should have access to a basic level of quality healthcare, including acute care, of which ambulance services are an essential component.
We also support allocating additional medical resources to underserved areas, and New York State rural residents are chronically underserved.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only made the importance of rural emergency medical services more evident, and the need to address their pre-existing challenges more pressing.
The hardworking volunteers and paid emergency medical technicians are local heroes in our rural communities, and their dedication and commitment have a direct impact on health outcomes and quality of life. Establishing a task force that systematically identifies service gaps and makes recommendations on how to sustainably support this critical component of rural healthcare is a much-needed first step.
State Sen. Hinchey and Assembly Member Santabarbara are sponsoring the bills in their legislative chambers, and we call on our local representatives — Sen. Oberacker and Assembly Members Salka, Miller, Tague, and Angelino—to support the bill’s swift passage before the legislative session comes to a close at the end of June.
Liane Hirabayashi and Patricia MacLeish
Co-presidents, League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area
The Community Foundation of Otsego County is up and running and wants you to join us as one of our Founders.
We are OF the community, FOR the community, and want to do everything in our power to improve the quality of life for all residents of Otsego County. We also want to live by our values which include taking direction from the community we serve.
The concept of forming a philanthropic organization to serve one’s community is not new. There are over 750 community foundations across the nation. Successful foundations exist in New York counties to our north, east, south and west. The essential difference between a community foundation and a more common private foundation is that we are a public enterprise. Our funding is from our public and our responsibility is to our public – our friends and neighbors.
Many of the successful community foundations in our region of New York have taken decades to grow to the level where they are able to make a difference. Small but sure steps. One dollar at a time, invested so that spending was limited to earnings at the rate of 4 or 5% per year. The early emphasis was on asset building.
This is an important strategy and one that we are working on too. But we want to make a difference NOW. How can we do that?
Our approach is to raise seed capital that we are willing to invest in our community instead of in the stock market. Thus, our Founders Campaign is to secure $2 million. These funds will be used over the next five years, while our other strategy (accumulating investment assets) is pursued to secure our future sustainability.
Ours is a modern model. It borrows from the world of venture capital and private equity. It is founded on the bedrock confidence that our community will support our work. It is responsive to today’s needs.
The formation of Community Foundation of Otsego County is a vitally important step in the health of our county. It is an opportunity for neighbors and friends to join together to work smartly to address issues that need addressing.
We hope that many of you decide to join us as Founders. The amount of your support is up to you. We want broad participation. We have made it easy to join us. Send us a check. Make a five-year pledge (to match our five-year business plan). Donate appreciated stock or real estate. Use your credit card or Pay Pal.
Set up a monthly or annual payment program. Go to our website to get more information (cfotsego.org). Or simply mail us a check to P.O. Box 55, Springfield Center, NY 13468.
How are we doing so far, you ask? Well, our goal is $2 million. Today, we are 90% of the way to that target. Our entire board has joined as Founders as well as more than 100 others.
And are we making a difference now? Absolutely yes!
Our COVID Emergency Fund disbursed $200,000 in 27 awards. We have helped families put food on their tables, provided shelter to homeless individuals, supported over 100 small businesses and much more.
In 2021, we have allocated another $200,000 to meet challenges facing our community.
Please visit our website for details on our award programs.
Will you join us as a Founder? This is a once only opportunity to be part of a group of like-minded friends and neighbors dedicated to creating a force for good in our community.
We deeply believe that caring together makes us stronger together.
The Freeman’s Journal welcomes letters to the editor that reflect the writer’s thoughts on an article or other item appearing in the paper. They must include the writer’s name, address, email and telephone/mobile number; the opinions expressed must be the writer’s own. Hostile, offensive, factually incorrect or excessively inflammatory content will not be published. The length must be no more than 250 words. The editors reserve the right to accept, reject or edit letters for clarity and space.
A new apartment building has been proposed at 10 Chestnut between Main and Lake. Simple Integrity proposed much the same thing two years ago. I was the only person at the hearing that spoke in favor of it—on the simple premise that what they proposed was clearly an improvement on what’s there now—a dilapidated building.
The first and foremost utilitarian test on the redevelopment of property in the village should be that if it’s better than what it replaces, the village should look favorably on it—because if the application is denied, what’s there now will remain a useless hole in the tax rolls. There is no practical mechanism in the village to tear down derelict structures, so the village has a lifetime supply of neglected buildings that will remain neglected until someone proposes to remodel or replace them with something better. When that happens, the trustees should work with the proponent on the proposal— provided it’s allowed within the zoning ordinance—since the alternative is for the buildings to remain eyesores.
To the question of whether All-Otsego’s new Editor-in-Chief should (continue to) use the editorial page to express positions on a variety of topics: Of course he should. He must!
It would be an abrogation of his responsibility not to provide editorial guidance to area citizens.
Editorials are widely anticipated to inform, educate, and — maybe least of all — persuade citizens on issues they might otherwise ignore or take for granted. The paper would be far less interesting and less useful without them. As to whether the editor might be too liberal or conservative for many readers, the question is irrelevant unless the editor is politically timorous. Many
issues such as infrastructure, reparations, or correcting misinformation deliberately spread in other media, are not necessarily ideological nor are they “yes or no” issues.
As a Political Science professor in past years I urged my students to realize that citizens need to see and hear thoughtful views to the left and right of positions that they might view as moderate.
There may be many more than two reasonable arguments they should consider. The old cliche, “the devil is in the details”, is often apt on many presumably ideological issues. Editorials
can help readers like me get beyond generalities and my preconceived positions. As a long time reader of newspapers, I turn to the editorial page for enlightenment and look for clarity, conviction, and sometimes even courage on the part of the Editor-in-Chief.
New York is now the 17th state in the union to legalize marijuana. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA, Senate Bill S854A; Assembly Bill A1248) passed with only Democratic
votes – no Republicans voted for it.
The Republicans claim their opposition was because the bill was badly written, and that it will serve as a kind of gateway for marijuana into our state. Marijuana is already here, and is not
going anywhere. According to the Washington Post, 55 million Americans have used marijuana at least once in the last year, and a Pew Research Center Poll found that 67% of Americans favor legalization.
Before moving on though, you should know that I have never tried marijuana and do not plan to now – legal or not. My comments going forward are about the policy and politics related to this legislation.
The Republican conference insists they vote independently, and that Democrats vote in lock step with party leadership. Not true. For this bill, three Democratic Senators and six Assembly Members voted against it. Despite this vote tally, is the push to legalize marijuana really just a Democrat initiative? No. Have Republicans led on this issue? Yes!
Montana just passed a legalization bill too, and their legislature is dominated by Republicans. I suspect our state matches national sentiments, and most New Yorkers favored the change, including Republicans and elected Republican representatives. The problem facing Republican legislators is that they are in the minority and do not get credit like the majority does. If the balance was flipped in New York, I bet Republicans would have led the passage of the MRTA. Public support would have been on their side too. The legislation acts upon the opinion shared by most New Yorkers that a legal framework to regulate and control marijuana is the right way forward. This is not a money grab by the government. The estimated tax revenue will amount to about .001% of the total budget – not a noticeable impact, but there will be a noticeable impact on our state’s ability to prevent access to it. Yes – legalization can help control distribution by using the revenues to support programs that keep it away from minors. I definitely want that to happen.
The Republican vote on this legislation was more a vote opposing the majority than a vote on the bill itself. It is unfortunate that they viewed the bill in this way. Progress is not bound to a party. Progress is bound to the ideas that make our society better, and those that make them happen. Our state still needs more change to bring families and businesses back, especially to Central New York. Next time, let’s hope members from both parties will view proposed legislation on merit and not on party politics.
I need to add my own praise for Jim Kevlin. I moved to Otsego County in July 2018, had never lived in New York State or worked as a breaking news reporter before, and I was 52 years old – not exactly at the most agile stage of life. Yet Jim hired me in Nov. 2018 and I was there for almost a year. It was stressful, but it was also one of the most fun and interesting years of my life.
Jim and Libby Cudmore, then-managing editor, sent me on amazing assignments. I got to report on an American Ninja Warrior from Oneonta, bison who escaped from their ranch, two rescued piglets at the SSPCA, and writer Erica Jong. I got to learn about this area quickly and aspects of it I would probably never have known.
Jim was such a good mentor to me. He always gave me the background to a story that I, as a newbie, needed. He tried mightily to teach me how to take decent photographs since I was a novice at that, too. I often took way too long to write. Given we had looming deadlines, Jim was patient with me although a few times he’d bark, “Hill, why aren’t you finished yet?” in his best editor voice.
All he needed was a cigar although since I now work for Tobacco-Free Communities, I’m glad he didn’t have one.
Mostly, Jim was such a nice man. He treated people who came in to talk to him with dignity. And I enjoyed his sense of humor. I loved that he’d say, “This story could be a hot potato!”
And now that I have overwritten yet another piece for this paper, I will end with congratulating Jim and Sylvia on their retirement and their next fun adventure. Thank you, Jim, for letting me meet and write about people who make this area good and interesting to live in.