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Sun., Jan. 25
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HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

Today we celebrate our mothers. Some might dismiss Mother’s Day as a holiday started by greeting card companies to make a few extra bucks, and maybe they’re right. But I don’t think setting aside a day out of the year to make your mother feel special — or remember her if she’s no longer with you — is a bad thing. I am fortunate to have two women in my life who I count as mothers: the woman who gave birth to me and raised me, Barbara Graham, and my mother-in-law, Sandy Lyons. I love them both beyond measure. If you are lucky enough to have your mom still with you, do something special for her today and tell her how much she means to you.

LEGISLATURE RACES

St. Lawrence County political committees have been searching high and low to come up with enough candidates to ensure contested races for all 15 seats on the county Board of Legislators in November. There are still seven seats for which there are either no announced candidates or no challengers to incumbents.

Holding elected office at any level of government is probably the most thankless job anyone could have. You can’t make everyone happy. Ever. But elected positions, especially at the county level, are vitally important to ensure that citizens get the services they need, whether its roads that need fixing or a resident’s tax issue that needs to be resolved. County lawmakers can and do make a difference in their constituents’ lives.

Our political process only works when there are people willing to hold those elected jobs, and it works best when people have a choice of candidates. Anyone interested in running for a Legislature seat should contact their political party’s local committee or their county committee chairman as soon as possible. Petitions will be circulated starting next month.

COMMON CORE TESTS

More than 100 students last week opted out of taking Common Core mathematics assessment tests in their school districts.

There has been understandable concern about the curriculum, which teaches mathematics using a philosophy that is dramatically different than past math instruction. It’s difficult for parents to wrap their heads around it. It’s easy for those of us educated the traditional way to think that the methodology is bizarre or wrong because we just were not taught to think that way. I personally think that the traditional mathematics teaching methods were fine because they somehow managed to propel me to college-level calculus, but I’m not in the education business.

Even if you despise the Common Core way of doing things, having your child not take the test does little to solve its problems. In the absence of a standardized test, children are unable to concretely demonstrate what’s wrong with the new curriculum. Without test results that show a uniformity to incorrect answers, school officials need to look at a host of classroom factors that might not give them an accurate view of how the curriculum needs to be changed.

I understand why some parents kept their children home on test day, but I don’t think it was the best approach to fixing what many parents and educators view as a flawed methodology for teaching fundamental math skills.

MASSENA MEMORIAL’S FUTURE

Massena Memorial Hospital officials have been told they should come up with a plan to save $8 million over the next three years before the Massena Town Council will consider switching the hospital’s status from a municipally owned facility to a nonprofit institution. Meanwhile, hospital CEO Charles Fahd is continuing to make the rounds to community groups making the case for changing to a nonprofit structure. His continued push toward nonprofit status is understandable.

The hospital is in a sticky situation. Even if hospital officials can manage to save $8 million over the next three years in an attempt to keep its municipal status and stay solvent, state pension costs will remain an unpredictable factor in years to come. As long as the state’s pension system is tied to the free market, its costs are only so predictable. If the market tanks again, pension contributions for publicly funded employees will skyrocket.

It’s understandable that many in the community would like to keep the hospital the way it is. But the odds that the facility can find $8 million in sustainable cuts within three years are slim. Even then, for how long will that keep the hospital solvent, since the cost of everything keeps going up?

Whether it keeps its municipal status or is forced to become a nonprofit institution, hospital and town officials need to keep the preservation of medical services as their number-one priority. Those deciding the hospital’s future must not gamble on quality of medical care for those who rely on Massena Memorial.

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