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OpinionLetters

Letter: Sam isn't the only role model

The yet-to-turn-pro football player Michael Sam is being called a role model ["The times they are a-changin'," Sports, Feb. 23]. But in September, New York Giants player Prince Amukamara stated that he would be remaining celibate until his marriage.

This is the athlete that should be considered the true hero and role model for being brave and believing in traditional values.

Mike Dolan, West Hempstead

Paying to educate state leaders?

Is this a joke? The State Assembly is using taxpayer dollars to hire a private firm to investigate sexual harassment complaints and develop policies that, I'm guessing, will educate our elected representatives, all adults, mostly male, about how to treat other people, mostly female, in the workplace ["Pols hire sex-harassment counsel," News, Feb. 26].

This has the blessing of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan). Isn't he the same man who apologized for using taxpayer dollars to pay women who were victims of sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of one of our elected representatives? Isn't that really hush money?

The standard in these matters should be to view the conduct of these men as if they were having these interactions with your wife, daughter or mother. Get it, guys?

This seems to be the most recent topic being discussed in connection with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's highly touted efforts at ethics reform -- which are being stalled by the people who need their ethics reformed. In other words, the people who need rules to keep them honest won't approve any legislation that would keep them honest. Interesting concept.

Christopher Marzuk, Greenlawn

Laying blame for failing students

A letter writer declared that America's teachers are failures ["U.S. must improve education system," Feb. 26].

Yet while he notes that the winners of scholastic awards are predominately from Asian cultural backgrounds, he fails to realize that they have the same American teachers as the students who fail -- a failure he blames not on their culture but on their teachers.

It does, of course, put him squarely in the mainstream of the education reform movement, spearheaded by some education experts who have never actually been educators. Their lesson for the students of America is, succeed, and we will reward you; fail, and we will blame someone else.

Patrick Flynn, Wading River

Editor's note: The writer taught school for 34 years.

Add cameras near schools for safety

Placing speed cameras by schools for the safety of our children is a good idea ["Traffic cams near schools," News, Feb. 22]. Using the fines to give raises to government workers and to balance county budgets is a bad idea.

Once again, our government officials look to lawbreakers for more money. When people obey the law, the budget will be out of balance again, and officials will have to raise taxes.

These fines should be used to supplement the budget in emergencies, such as for hurricanes and other unusual weather, like the snows we have experienced this year.

Tony Lapera, West Babylon

In-prison study can change lives

I read Newsday's editorial "Education in prison can change lives, cut crime" [Feb. 19] with great interest.

Soon after the announcement by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, an avalanche of opposition arose to the idea of giving prisoners free college educations. It was déjà vu all over again for me. In 1995, I witnessed the dismantling of college in New York State prisons when Gov. George Pataki took away Tuition Assistance Program grants for prisoners. The year before, the federal government stopped financial aid through Pell grants for prisoners.

In 1985, I went to prison on a first-time nonviolent drug charge. I was lost and didn't know how I was going to survive. Then I discovered that the prison I was in, Sing Sing, offered two college programs and a graduate degree program. I am proud to say I went on to complete them all and came to understand the rehabilitative value of education for both prisoner and society.

I want to point out that receiving my three degrees was not a free ride. I paid dearly with 12 years of my life, sentenced under a bad Rockefeller drug law that was eventually changed because it was so draconian.

When I got out of prison, 17 years ago, I got a job at a law firm as a litigation paralegal. Getting that job helped me maintain my humanity and kept me walking on a straight and narrow road.

Anthony Papa, Long Island City

Editor's note: The writer is the media relations manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocate for drug law reform.

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