NY politics, education and the culture wars: Two views (Your Letters)

NY politics, education and the culture wars: Two views (Your Letters)

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Bias showed in framing of Mannion-Shiroff story

To the Editor:

I read with interest Chris Carlson’s article on the candidates’ positions on education and what is being taught to students in our schools (“NY Senate race in Syracuse highlights national discussion over what schools teach,” Oct. 17, 2022). It allowed John Mannion and Rebecca Shiroff to speak for themselves on the topic. Neither took a neutral position. Despite the fact that two different approaches to the subject were espoused, the writer, in the second paragraph, framed the narrative as, “Their experience with schools is the backdrop for their disagreement about what is discussed in New York’s public schools — an issue flaring in state and local elections around the nation as Republicans try to influence how race, sexuality and gender are taught.”

Why did the story report this as an issue “flaring … as Republicans try to influence” how subjects are taught? Aren’t the Democrats trying to influence the teaching, as well? Doesn’t this detailed article prove that both parties are advocating for different approaches to education? Isn’t that why there is an issue? Wouldn’t a more factual report have been, “both Republicans and Democrats are trying to influence” how education is provided? The way the story singled out one party for attempting to influence and not just identifying or raising the issue, but flaring it, suggests that the other party is not engaged in the same activity and is not contributing to the debate and the flaring. That clearly is not the case.

I am not a registered member of either party. I support both Mannion’s and Shiroff’s rights to hold and advocate for their positions and opinions. I liked that the story let them speak. I do object to the writer slanting the story, however.

Jim Stevens

Syracuse

‘Manufactured hypersensitivity’ has no basis in reality

To the Editor:

State Sen. John Mannion accurately explained the role of teachers as they help students understand some of the complex issues in our society today. His 28 years in the classroom and his leadership in the West Genesee Teachers Association affords him a highly credible position to know how teachers handle social issues, questions and concerns of students, involving sensitive and possibly controversial topics. His opponent has no such credibility in these matters.

Rebecca Shiroff, who admittedly gets most of her information from social media, is trying to characterize teachers as propaganda agents who are steering students towards one political party or one particular outlook on a certain issue. Additionally, she claims that students are being made to feel bad about themselves as either victims or oppressors.

Nothing could be farther from the truth on both positions. This manufactured hypersensitivity, which is occurring in many school districts across the country, has no basis in reality. It is the product of a conspiracy-based group that wants to deprive our young people of fact-based knowledge and civilized discussion opportunities in order to help understand important issues vital to our democracy’s survival. Students deserve to know the truth about history, science and other important topics. To submit them to rumor, gossip and lies is to deny them the quality education our citizenry needs for our country to be a true democracy for everyone.

John Lazarski

Syracuse

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