Posts Tagged ‘education’

Monday, August 25, 2008

OPINION: Lower The Drinking Age

I recently read that as many or more people are killed crossing at marked crosswalks than jay-walking. It got me thinking about all those jay-walking stings – you know, where the police lay in wait for people to cross the street.

In July more than 100 college presidents took an important step toward backing away from that kind of criminalizing barrage on Americans by suggesting we lower the drinking age to 18. It’s called the Amethyst Initiative and it was begun by John McCardell, the former President of Middlebury College in Vermont.

The website says:

These higher education leaders have signed their names to a public statement that the 21 year-old drinking age is not working, and, specifically, that it has created a culture of dangerous binge drinking on their campuses.

The Amethyst Initiative supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age. Amethyst Initiative presidents and chancellors call upon elected officials to weigh all the consequences of current alcohol policies and to invite new ideas on how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.

Those locally who have supported the idea include (1, 2, 3):

  • Paul Smith’s College President Dr. John Mills
  • Clinton Community College, Interim President Dr. Frederick Woodward
  • Clarkson University President Anthony G. Collins
  • St. Lawrence University President Daniel F. Sullivan
  • Hamilton College President Joan Hinde Stewart
  • Plattsburgh State President Dr. John Ettling “feels the idea deserves serious consideration”

Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Robert Clarke and University of Massachusetts System President Jack M. Wilson also signed on.

MADD is, well, mad. They still argue that raising the drinking age in 1984-1988 is what has reduced alcohol related deaths among 16 to 20 year-olds (why 16 and not 18?) some 60 percent since 1990 – though they have risen over the past ten. I’ll bet the cause is more likely the stricter DWI enforcement and penalties – the bottom line is young people need to learn from their elders what responsible drinking is about.

Chicago’s Mayor Daley (son of Richard “the policeman isn’t there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder” Daley) is also mad:

You think the president of the university is gonna open a beer hall in his house? Do you think the coach of the baseball team or football team will open it up? They should raise their standards and think that drinking is not part of college life. … Everybody has responsibility on this and drinking at universities isn’t something you should be proud of. … You don’t send your son or daughter to learn how to drink at universities. You send ‘em for an education.

According to the more civilized discussion points in the piece:

More than 40 percent of college students reportedly show at least one symptom of alcohol abuse or dependence. And every year, more than 500,000 full-time students at four year colleges suffer injuries tied in some way to excess drinking.

I’ll go with Peter McWilliams – a man who really understood these issues and who once wrote:

It is the law’s job to protect innocent people from likely harm to their person or property. It is not the law’s job to protect adults from the risks of their own consensual acts.

In case you still have any doubt that criminalizing drinking will make any real cultural difference, here is an article from the Ticonderoga Sentinel on backsliders in the Schroon Lake Temperance Society in 1884:

C. T. Leland has found an old book giving the facts concerning the organization
of the Schroon Lake Temperance Society in the year 1884, and gives the names of all members, business transacted, record of back-sliders, etc.

At the start 185 persons joined, altho we find that beside many names are written the words “withdrawn,” “older,” “drank,” “intoxicated” giving exact dates of each slip-up, while beside one name appears this amusing inscription “Mr. Benthusen,” “drank every time any body asked him,” and below that information some one had added these words, “Who could blame him.”

Who could indeed. Abstinence and enforcement have failed, it’s time for another approach.


Monday, July 14, 2008

OPINION: Local Anti-Enviros Hate-Monger Too Much

When some folks prattle on about conservation and environmentalist ideas being forced on us from outside the Adirondack region, they simply get it wrong. Take this quote from blogger Dave Scranton, calling himself Adirondack Citizen:

The fact is that the NON-Residents Committee to “Protect” the Adirondacks and the Adirondack Council do not speak for all New Yorkers and in fact, they speak for damn few real Adirondackers (those of us that live and work here.) Elitist such as Sheehan, Beamish and Bauer are nothing more than professional lobbyists who peddle misinformation to advance their extremist Enviro-Nazi agendas at the cost of our Adirondack communities. Their claims of supporting “healthy Adirondack communities” are hypocritical beyond belief and APA & DEC need to stop giving their whines so much weight.

From the Keene Valley the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust have recently announced the hiring of summer intern Meghan Johnstone of Saranac Lake.

An Adirondack native, Johnstone graduated from Saranac Lake High School in 2006. She just finished her sophomore year at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry where she majors in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Environmental Communication and Culture.

“Growing up in the Adirondacks has given me a deep appreciation for the environment. Now I’m working with a highly respected organization helping to protect the place that I know and love,” Johnstone recently said (that’s her at top left on a visit to recently purchased OK Slip Falls). It’s statements like those that show local anti-environmentalist like Dave Scranton for what they really are – hate mongers with a political agenda. The internship Johnstone is pursuing this summer was established in part by Clarence Petty (now there’s an “enviro-nazi” for ya!) – who probably has a few more years of “real” Adirondack living than the so-called Adirondack Citizen does.

And what is Meghan Johnstone’s primary goal this summer? It’s to work with the Conservancy’s director of communications starting with improving the pages relating to the recent purchases of ecologically and economically significant lands in the heart of the Adirondacks.

Nature Conservancy interns like Johnstone – raised in our own backyard – are gaining the practical skills to help equip them to address environmental challenges and public threats from folks like Adirodnack Citizen.

Money is being raised for an endowment to ensure funds are available well into the future to keep this program going. Everyone who deplores the divisive and hate-filled attitudes of some of our neighbors should contribute.

It’s time some of the folks around us stop trying to turn the rest of us into public enemies – donating to the fund is an appropriate way to send a message that those of us who live here are determined to protect our way of life, which includes protections for our surroundings and the economic opportunities our environment affords us.

For More Information

“Friends in Conservation,” a ten-minute video about the Adirondack Conservation Internship Program, featuring Barbara Glaser and Clarence Petty, is available by contacting Connie Prickett at 518-576-2082 x162 or cprickett@tnc.org.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, non-profit organization working to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. Since 1971, the Adirondack Chapter has been working with a variety of partners in the Adirondacks to achieve a broad range of conservation results. The Chapter is a founding partner of the High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program, dedicated to the protection of alpine habitat, as well as the award-winning Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, which works regionally to prevent the introduction and spread of non-native invasive plants.

The Adirondack Land Trust, established in 1984, protects open space, working farms and forests, undeveloped shoreline, scenic vistas, and other lands contributing to the quality of life of Adirondack residents. The Land Trust holds 45 conservation easements on 11,174 acres of privately-owned lands throughout the Adirondack Park, including 15 working farms in the Champlain Valley.

Together, these partners in Adirondack conservation have protected 556,572 acres, one out of every six protected acres park-wide. On the Web at nature.org/adirondacks.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Adirondack Region School Board Vote Results

All school budgets in Clinton, Essex, Lewis and Jefferson counties passed! Here’s a report from NCPR’s Brian Mann

Essex, Fulton, Saratoga, Washington and Warren Counties from Capital News 9
Southern Adirondack Details from ComPost Star
Clinton County fromThe Plattsburgh Press Republican


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

SUNY Potsdam Republicans Organizing Armed Militia on Campus

You read it right… SUNY Potsdam College Republicans, apparently afraid of something, are organizing shotgun-toting patrols.

Kelly Eustis tells NewsWatch50 he borrowed the idea from student leaders at SUNY New Paltz but also believes it’s a Republican-oriented issue.

“I believe it is our constitutional right,” Eustis said. “It will show people that it is the right to bear arms. It will also act as a defense organization for the students of SUNY Potsdam and act as a kind of a watchdog group for police.”

Eustis said that after just a few days of soliciting he has 16 students interested in being a part of the militia.

At SUNY New Paltz, Student Association leaders are proposing patrols consisting of three students, two armed with shotguns and a third carrying a video camera.

Friends… prepare your arm salutes! We only hope there isn’t a beer garden nearby.


Suggested Reading: Potsdam Public Museum’s Photo History of Potsdam


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Three New Species Found in the Adirondack Treetops

Graduate student researcher Heather Root has made international news with the discovery of three new species in the canopy near Newcomb. The paper was presented at the Ninth Annual Northeast Natural History Conference in Albany.

UPDATE 05/09/06: North Country Public Radio has picked up on this story. Root told NCPR’s Brian Mann that she also found a rare lichen believed to have disappeared from the Adirondacks decades ago.


Suggested Reading: A History of Adirondack Mammals


Monday, November 14, 2005

SUNY System See Big Growth in Adirondacks; Even Without Basic Support From New York Governments

The Plattsburgh Press Republican is reporting that enrollment is up for Adirondack region SUNY schools. Unfortunately, they didn’t bother to report on the recent attacks on SUNY, one of the best public education systems in the country. Nor did they mention the nonsense Adirondack Community College has been going through with Warren and Washington county officials.


Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Adirondack Community College Woes

Already suffering from increased attendance, insufficient funding, and low-paid staff and teachers, Adirondack Community College (ACC) now has to deal with Washington and Warren county governments acting like children. Washington County behavior in particular is frankly disgusting. While pushing a tax break that in some towns reduces taxes by nearly 30 percent, they are refusing to adequately support their only local college… it’s no wonder Whitehall, Fort Edward, and Fort Anne look the way they do.

New York’s Community College system has been the neglected workhorse of the state’s higher education system, which is, as always, under great strain from inattention and being terrorized by political hacks.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Another Attack on Local Indy Media

Federal agents raided the downtown office of Brattleboro Vermont’s low-power community radio (10-watt) station Radio Free Brattleboro (107.9 rfb) yesterday morning seizing (ahem… stealing) thousands of dollars worth of equipment and leaving a warrant on the unmanned console [full story].

Long ago in the history of radio federal officials gave away the public airwaves to their corporate buddies. rfb is “a non-commercial and commercial free all access independent community radio station” and that simply won’t do. Here’s a nice profile. Here’s A Big List of Low-Power FM Stations

Adirondack Almanack encourages readers to join with their neighbors to seize back the airwaves – some local broadcast opportunities:

Grassroots Radio Conference and Radio Barnraising
Florence, MA Aug 4-7.

Saratoga Media Center
Get involved with demanding the Public Access we’re due!

WRPI – 91.5 FM Troy
Get Involved in one of the countries oldest community radio stations.

WGFR – ACC Radio
Adirondack Community College students – seize control of your radio station!

Prometheus Radio
A Great Resource

Berkshire Community Radio Alliance (97.7 WBCR)
The Latest and Greatest Local Effort


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