Letters to the Editor, Dec. 15

Blindly Devoted to BBA Headmaster

To the Editor,

This is in response to BBA board chairman Seth Bongartz' rebuttal to my recent editorial addressing the decline of Burr and Burton Academy due to its poor leadership.

Rather than address the specific, critical issues raised in my editorial, Mr. Bongartz instead chose to quickly dismiss my statements as those of a "disgruntled former employee". This knee jerk reaction is both surprising and troubling. One would think that the primary responsibility and overall mission of the board chair, and of the trustees, would be to ensure that the students of BBA are receiving the best possible education and that the faculty are teaching in an environment conducive to achieving that objective. Such an environment can only be created through leadership characterized by honest, fair and consistent treatment of faculty, staff, and students.

This has not taken place at BBA in quite some time. It is unfortunate that Mr. Bongartz would immediately defend the headmaster rather than take the time to process and consider the contents of my editorial and respond on a factual basis. It seems highly inappropriate for any member of the board of trustees to demonstrate blind devotion to the headmaster amid a number of teacher-filed grievances, legal issues, and declining student performance, both academically and behaviorally. Mr Bongartz referred to all of this simply as "nonsense." But when was the last time the performance of the headmaster was formally evaluated? Has the board engaged in any individual, confidential conferences with BBA faculty members to investigate what is really going on inside the school? Have they considered taking a confidential vote of confidence from the faculty regarding the performance of the headmaster?

Mr. Bongartz used the term "disgruntled former employee." Ironically, the number of individuals who can be characterized as such has increased significantly year after year. And this comes as no surprise. The treatment of certain BBA employees, many of whom have served the school faithfully for anywhere from 10 to 20 plus years, has been abysmal. Some of these individuals have had conversations with the board chair or other board members to express their concerns. It is the prerogative of the board chair, and of the board itself, to turn a blind eye to what has been happening at BBA. However, doing so comes at a high cost. And unfortunately, the faculty, staff and students of BBA continue to pay the price.

Bruce Regan, Chester

Remember, honor, and teach on Wreaths Across America Day

To the Editor,

Fellow residents of Bennington and the surrounding area, we are asking you to Join us on National Wreaths Across America Day; Dec. 16 at 12 p.m. at the Vermont Veterans' Home on 325 North Street in Bennington. Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, the mission to Remember, Honor and Teach is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as over 1,100 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea, and abroad.

We at the Vermont Veterans' Home are honored to participate in this national event as one of the locations. Last year the day was cold, windy, and snowing, yet as hardy

Vermonters you attended and participated in honoring those who had served our great nation. Observing all who were present lay a wreath, call out the Veterans name, and salute each time was a memory I shall always carry with me.

If you are a leader of a youth organization, please consider attending this event with your group. This is a tremendous opportunity to remember, honor, and teach about our heritage and heroes. These graves contain warriors from the Civil War to current conflicts. Our earliest interments contain warriors who marched south into the unknown so that others may be free.

Please bring family and friends to participate in this year's event. It is vitally important for our children to understand and honor our departed Veterans on this day. The Ceremony itself is short, but meaningful. Its purpose is not to "decorate graves", but to commemorate their sacrifice and dedication to these United States and to the cause of Freedom. Semper Fidelis.

Colonel A. M. Faxon Jr, Deputy/COO Vermont Veterans' Home

Nadlers will be missed

To the Editor,

Irene Nadler was an outstanding principal at my three childrens' elementary school on Long Island. Over the ten years that I had a child in her school, she was a suportive and encouraging source of strength as well, to me as a single parent, and as a student myself, in pursuit of a nursing degree. Her skill, attitude, knowledge and caring made those years a joy, despite many challenges. Irene was accessible to students, parents, teachers and staff dvery day. She was and is, a special friend to many of the families here in East Northport, NY. We remember when she became "Mrs. Nadler," too! MEMS will now share with the Pulaski Road School a common sadness at losing such a vivrant and inspirational leader.

Lynn Murray, Northport New York

Keep speaking up

To the Editor,

Now that Time Magazine has awarded their Person of the Year to the "Silence Breakers" who spoke out as part of the #MeToo campaign, and as a result of the scandals of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, political figures, and many more, it's time for more of us women to tell our stories. Actually it's past time. It's time to hold men and women who sexually assault others accountable.

That's what Kirsten Gillibrand and other female senators are doing with their call for Sen. Franken (D-Minn.) to resign. It was a difficult decision for her, based on her response in interviews. But to her credit, she had to say, "Enough is enough."

On Tuesday, December 12, Alabama voters go to the polls to make a similar decision: Will they elect an accused pedophile and alleged serial sexual abuser just because he's a Republican and supported by Donald Trump? Trump, of course, is likewise accused of multiple — anywhere from 16-18 — acts of sexual harassment, assault, abuse, and rape. The now-infamous Access Hollywood video tape with Billy Bush, and at least one audio tape with Howard Stern, might as well be confessions by Trump.

I almost feel sorry for the plight of these and other such men. On the other hand, now they might — what with the unwanted attention —have an idea of what women have had to, and do, endure most of their lives. But enough is indeed enough!

See the pattern? The predatory power, physical, emotional, financial? The pattern that degrades and devalues women, make them feel "less than?"

I have my own list, as does almost every woman. It's not complete, but it's much too long. Sexual assault, harassment. Drunken groping. Blind date, rape. Fianc , domestic abuse, partner rapes. Policeman, sexual assaults. Fireman, sexual assault. Fellow church member, years'-long innuendoes, attempted groping. Boss, sexual innuendoes. #MeToo.

Several United States senators are now calling for an official investigation into the accusations against Trump. Even Trump's ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, has said the women "should be heard" and "have every right to speak up" (USA Today).

It is past time to demand Donald Trump's resignation on this matter. A recent Twitter post says it all: #TrumpToo. He needs to be held accountable, too. He is not above the law.

The more of us who speak up — women and men — the fewer victims there will be.

Genie Rayner, Bennington


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