2009-05-20 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Honor Our Vets

To The Editor:

As we approach Memorial Day, many things come to mind. First of all, let's remember all those who gave their lives to protect our nation in all conflicts since the American Revolution, when we fought for our freedom. Let us also salute our brave men and women who are now serving to protect the freedoms of others in faraway lands, as they serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to serving in other parts of the world. What also comes to mind is the war against terrorism, where we all must be on the alert, for if we see something we should say something. I also think we all should fly our flag for all those serving our nation and by doing so we are showing respect to our brave men and women. Furthermore, if you know a veteran, call him or her and say thank you for protecting us and what we hold most dear, and that is our freedom.

Now as Memorial Day draws near, I find myself thinking what it means to be an American. The answer is pride to be in our country that allows us our personal freedom and the ability to speak our minds. We may not have the best system, but it is still the greatest in the world.

This freedom does not come without a price. As former President John. F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country." President Barack Obama has echoed these sentiments as well by calling for all of us to volunteer our time to help others in these most difficult times. Even our own Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg has called for volunteerism.

We have a great opportunity to do just that, and there are various organizations that need our help, like churches, temples and civil organizations. We should also get involved with the political organization of our choice and get involved with either our time or donations.

Let me take this further: we should also get our young people involved, for the future belongs to them. As for myself, I'm not just talking. I also am involved with St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus Council 5911 and we do a lot of charity work and are always looking for Catholic men who wish to join. So go out this Memorial Day and be a part of all the parades in our communities honoring our brave men and women and also our policemen, firemen, EMS workers who serve and protect. Also, come out to [the] Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, the largest in the nation, and wave your flag, for its colors don't run.
Sincerely yours,
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

Stay Safe Memorial Day

To The Editor:

This Memorial Day, whether you're kicking off the start of summer in the backyard with barbecues or out on the waterways, stay safe by drinking responsibly and choosing a designated driver or designated "skipper" before the festivities begin.

Thanks to designated driver programs and increased law enforcement, drunk-driving fatalities during the Memorial Day period are down 36 percent since 1982, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

We encourage everyone to do their part by continuing to make responsible choices this Memorial Day weekend. Remember, Responsibility Matters!
C.A. Verdon
Consumer Social Responsibility
Anheuser-Busch Sales & Service Of New
York, Inc.

Refutes Burke

To The Editor:

Mr. [Lawrence] Burke has a very selective memory discussing the economy and deficits [Letters To The Editor, "Restore U.S. Economy", May 6] When Bush the elder left office in 1993, we had a massive federal deficit, due mostly to the [Ronald] Reagan tax cuts for the wealthy. Did Mr. Burke complain about the deficit at that point? Not very likely. After eight years of Bill Clinton, we wound up with a surplus at that point! Did Mr. Burke praise the Clinton Administration, not very likely! Now after disastrous years under George W. Bush, we have absorbed another huge tax cut for the wealthy, two hugely costly wars and all sorts of handouts to big business, leading up to a financial collapse. Did Mr. Burke complain about the financial irresponsibility of the Bush Administration? Not very likely. He waited until the Obama Administration was barely 100 days in office to stress the weak economy, a situation inherited from Bush. Don't look now, but the stimulus program seems to [be] reviving the economy, Mr. Burke. Why don't you wait a year or so before you start throwing your darts?

You may be surprised at the beneficial results.
Irving Feiner

Keep Mayoral Control

A copy of the following letter was received by the Gazette.
New York State Assembly
Legislative Office Building
Albany, New York 12248
Re: Mayoral Control
Dear Colleagues:

As you all know, over the past seven years, the New York City schools have been the subject for what is basically a governance experiment. In 2002, we gave control of the schools to Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg, eliminating local school boards and putting decision-making authority in his hands.

So has it worked?

The short answer is mostly yes. Graduation rates are up, crime in school is down and teacher salaries have increased. In my district, there has been real and measurable progress:

Average teacher salary went up by $19,044 (39 percent)

4th Graders performing at grade level in ELA increased 56 percent (a gain of 24 percentage points, from 43 percent to 67 percent)

4th Graders performing at grade level in math increased 64 percent (a gain of 34 percentage points, from 53 percent to 87 percent)

8th Graders performing at grade level in ELA increased 37 percent (a gain of 6 percentage points, from 17 percent to 23 percent)

8th Graders performing at grade level in math increased 276 percent (a gain of 40 percentage points, from 15 percent to nearly 55 percent).

These statistics give me hope. Behind each of these statistics are hundreds of children who are faring better at school than ever before. They have a better chance at a successful future, and they are learning the skills they need to contribute to society. These are significant achievements, but there are still areas that we need to improve on like the area of minority graduation rates.

Needless to say—and it is here where I think the mark of the debate facing us lies— there is room for improvement in the mayoral control system.

We have all heard parents say that they want more influence in the system, and they deserve it. Parents play a vital role—if not the most vital role—in the education of their children. No amount of educational reform can replace their impact on their children's educational success. We should not keep them out of our schools. We have a responsibility to give parents accurate and helpful information and guide them through what can be a very confusing system.

I believe this is best done at the community level. That is why I support reforming the Community Education Councils, which replaced the Community School Boards, and turning them into a legitimate source for parents to go to for information and help with problems. They also will serve as a forum for parental concerns, and the Department of Education will be required to consult with them on issues of importance to the community, including all major policy decisions, similar to a community planning board model. CEC membership would include members elected to their post—as is currently the process—or appointed by other elected officials such as borough presidents, city councilmembers and state legislators, like community planning boards are appointed. I also believe there should be a restructuring of the superintendents so they can have real authority and not just be a rubber stamp.

While I do support altering mayoral control to give parents more input, I believe still at the end of the day it is about having a check and balance, regardless of who the mayor is. We need one person to be accountable for the schools. Putting the mayor in charge of New York City's schools has given us a system with clear lines of accountability. If nothing else, we must preserve this fundamental aspect of mayoral control.

I look forward to having a substantive conversation about this issue with my constituents, education leaders and advocates and with you. Together, we can continue making progress so that eventually, our children will have the schools they deserve.
Assemblymember Jose R. Peralta
District 39

Don't Judge Just Yet

To The Editor:

Ed Horn's unabashed endorsement of [President Barack] Obama's [first] 100 days in office strikes me as premature. Undoubtedly, my friend Ed is an avowed "democrat" and openly wants us to accept his prejudices concerning President Obama's performance in the first 100 days of his administration.

The president has too many balls flying in the air at the same time and his juggling act may prove him wrong with his infinitesimal[ sic] penchant for publicity.

He has committed some "goofs"; i.e., shaking hands with [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez, a sworn enemy of the USA; of being unsuccessful in his quest for cooperation at the recent meeting of heads of state in Europe.

We must look beyond the 100-day performance which the press has pushed and measure the next 265 days and three years beyond. Obama is a very intelligent persona for the presidency and hopefully, he will not seek to making change for the sake of change!

As the French say: [the] more things change, [the] more they are the same as the old.
Fred Puglisi

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