Chartering a Course In Albany
by Anthony Stasi
Jan 19, 2010 | 2977 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Governor David Paterson is emerging as one of those unlikely politicians actually trying to do something in Albany. Nobody would accuse Paterson of being too innovative and charismatic - he didn't exactly run with the ball when he picked up Eliot Spitzer’s fumble in 2007. But Paterson has taken on big issues and stood strong at times, and this week was no different. For instance, the governor wants the state to raise the cap on the number of charter schools from 200 to 460, which will make public education even better and could allow for the state to qualify for more grant money.

The state legislature as of Sunday had not come to an agreement on this, and Paterson ordered them back into session on Martin Luther King Day. Fitting is a move like this, since improving public education is as much a civil rights issue as it is an education issue.

Some see the jump to 460 as far too high for charter schools, and that the state needs to crawl before it runs in regard to this kind of innovation. The charter school concept actually came from Al Shanker, former president of the United Federation of Teachers and American Federation of Teachers. The unions are a little skittish about the jump to too many charter schools since some of them are not sponsored by the union, and so they are seen with some skepticism.

Dr. Leo Casey, vice president of Academic High Schools for the United Federation of Teachers, testifying in front of the Education Committee of the New York City Council on April 6, 2009, said in explaining the union’s trepidation that “the original Shanker conception of a public charter school was not ideological or political, but educational.” But our charter schools are educational. To suggest that they need to fit the mold of the teacher’s union is, in fact, making it more political.

Charter schools, whether they are sponsored by the union, or independent, are what will save the image of the public school. To use an ugly corporate explanation, the public school “brand” needs new life. The charter school idea is an answer. It shows parents, and future parents, that public schools are a good and viable option, and that our system is being creative.

Paterson may have a short-lived time as New York’s governor, but he is taking this issue seriously and it is to the state’s benefit.

Mark Mc-Quagmire

Mark McGwire admitting to steroid use was no surprise to anyone. It was met with a collective “whatever” from the baseball world. Now that we have closure on the McGwire-Bonds era, is it time to re-examine Don Mattingly’s career in Hall of Fame terms? Many people, myself included, felt that Mattingly just didn’t have enough good years to merit the Hall of Fame. Mattingly, many believed, was just one of those very good players that was not necessarily Hall of Fame material due to a back injury that ended his career. Last week’s admission, though, tells us that we need to at least look more favorable on the accomplishments of clean players, like Mattingly, Will Clark, and a few others.

This is also the absolute best time to tell the Player’s Union that Major League Baseball is ushering in the era of mandatory testing – twice a year, issued randomly with punishments to follow. Baseball’s drug policy is overseen by its Health Policy Advisory Committee, which has, according to Major League Baseball, “no authority to discipline players that violate this program.” What?!

Don Mattingly could have had more years if he was taking steroids, but instead, he dragged his battered carcass onto the Kingdome’s astroturf in Seattle for the 1995 playoffs and then retired. Mattingly’s statistics almost mirror those of Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett of the Minnesota Twins. Nobody ever questioned Puckett’s place in Cooperstown. The argument that the Twins won two World Championships is moot, since one player cannot win the World Series.

Mattingly put fans in Yankee Stadium. Let us not forget how many times George Steinbrenner threatened to move the Yankees to New Jersey if attendance wasn’t up to snuff. But the Yankees still drew fans, and not because they had such golden arms like that of Rick Rhoden and Ed Whitson, but because Don Mattingly played great defense, hit doubles in record numbers, and won the MVP in 1985. Mattingly would have won the MVP in 1986 as well, but the writers gave it to Roger Clemens instead. Ironic that Clemens might just be the last holdout on admitting to steroid use.

If the Baseball Hall of Fame has a place for Pee Wee Reese and Phil Rizzutto, it most certainly needs to open its door to Don Mattingly.

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