2015-02-11 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Reopen Ferry Soon

A copy of this letter was received at the Queens
January 28, 2015
Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Hall
New York, NY 10007
Re: Rockaway Ferry

Dear Mayor de Blasio,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to take this opportunity to respectfully request a legitimate, reasonable discussion regarding your plans to reactivate a permanent, full-time ferry service in Rockaway. As per your discussion with the Rockaway elected officials at City Hall last fall, you had mentioned a better detailed proposal would be revealed after the previous ferry service was terminated.

As you know, the Rockaway ferry service ceased running on October 31, 2014. I am hopeful, and requesting, that an improved ferry service on the peninsula can be obtained before the start of the upcoming summer season. Rockaway has great year-round potential, but its major economic strength is in its summer season, which is a time when connecting the peninsula with the remainder of the city would seem to maximize the benefit for all individuals within the city limits. I also make this timely request for the re-activation of the Rockaway ferry knowing that negotiations for the city budget for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 will soon commence.

Please have a member of your administration contact me regarding the above request. If you need further information or if I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Very truly yours,

Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.
New York State Senator
15th District

No Reason To Close

To The Editor:

Most Precious Blood School in Long Island City is scheduled to be closed in June. This should not happen!

The school has been educating neighborhood children since 1957. It currently has an enrollment of over 300 students ranging from nursery through eighth grade. It has never been a financial drain on either the parish or the Diocese of Brooklyn and currently operates at a profit. It has over $500,000 saved to be put towards necessary building repairs. A coalition of parents and alumni are prepared to work together to raise whatever additional funds are needed.

So why is the school being closed? Because the church building is in dire need of repair. A steel brace is actually holding up the south wall which is separating from the rest of the structure. The cost of repair is allegedly $3 million. The plan is to close the school and rent out the building, using the funds realized to repair the church.

No one in the parish was consulted about this and all rescue plans and even pro-bono repair offers by construction companies have been ignored by the powers that be.

We ask all Catholics and, actually, anyone who believes in educational diversity to write to Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Brooklyn Diocese and ask him to stop this totally unfair shutdown and save Most Precious Blood School.

Kevin Sullivan, Alumnus

Diocese In Real Estate?

To The Editor:

I am writing about the surprising recent announcement that Most Precious Blood School in Astoria will close at the end of this academic year.

As a 1981 graduate of MPB, I was heartbroken to learn that this beloved institution in Astoria – which has educated more than 6,000 students since opening its doors in 1957 – is being shut down by the Diocese of Brooklyn without any opportunity for serious discussion with alumni, parents, students and the community-at-large. The parents of current MPB students were told to check the MPB website where they found a letter announcing the closure. I found out from the local TV news.

My father, Mate Grepo, did backbreaking work – which led to his early death – to send my brother and me through MPB and to make weekly contributions at MPB Roman Catholic Church. He then sent us to Catholic high schools. It is beyond me why the diocese thinks the MPB alumni body should not have a say in the school’s fate, when so many of our parents made the ultimate sacrifice to give us the religious education many of them were denied in their native homelands.

I fear the diocese is riding the gentrification wave. Many schools and churches in Brooklyn have been sold and turned into luxury condos. Is the diocese in the real estate business now? If the Diocese of Brooklyn does not care to fight for the future of Catholic education, then the diocese has lost its way. I will no longer make any contributions. Stephanie V. Grepo


To The Editor:

Mayor de Blasio and City Council Resolution 442 will cripple our famous specialized high schools (Brooklyn Tech, Stuyvesant and Bronx Science – three of which that have collectively produced more Nobel Prize Laureates (14) than all but 13 countries of the world – because their student profile does not reflect the city’s racial makeup.

These schools are not bastions of privilege; their admissions criteria have always been based on merit and the students’ objectively measured ability to succeed. For instance more than 60 percent of Brooklyn Tech’s students qualify for subsidized lunch or are from non-native English-speaking immigrant families. Sixteen percent are African American and Latino. Queens residents make up 36 percent of all six SHSAT schools’ students.

To protect the SHSAT high schools from the politically correct, quota-driven, subjectively biased admissions policies that destroyed The City University of New York – once the finest public university system in the nation, New York State passed the Hecht-Calandra Act in 1971 which mandates that admission be by merit only, as measured by the Specialized High School Aptitude Test (SHSAT) exam.

The mayor, City Council and teachers union (UFT) want to substitute multiple factors admissions criteria (grade point average, class rank, interviews, recommendations, extra-curricular activities, neighborhood, ethnic and cultural background, etc) for the SHSAT Exam in order to increase the number of African American and Latino students admitted. While the SHSAT fails to measure many of the different kinds of intelligence through which one can succeed in life, the SHSAT high schools require that a student have that special discipline and fundamental knowledge measured by the SHSAT.

There are many elite city high schools (such as Townsend Harris) that already use multiple factors admissions criteria and some are more racially imbalanced than the SHSAT high schools. As a matter of fact, Staten Island Tech switched its admissions process from multiple factors to the SHSAT Exam to successfully increase the number of African American and Latino students attending, which suggests that multiple factors can be considered racially biased.

The real reason there are so few African American and Latino students attending the SHSAT high schools is that only four percent of such minority middle school students achieve Level 4 on the New York State ELA and Math Exams: the pool from which the SHSAT students are admitted. In other words, these minority students have already been eliminated from the candidate pool by the time they reach middle school and the fact that Brooklyn Tech is 16 percent Black and Latino, only suggests that the SHSAT helps more children of color obtain admission than would be reflected by their proportion in the candidate pool.

The only solution to increasing the number of African American and Latino students attending SHSAT high schools is for the elementary schools to produce more students of excellence. Identify and enroll Black and Latino students in gifted and talented programs in their neighborhoods from Pre- K onward, creating an environment (including an extended school day) that nurtures the skills necessary to achieve academic success; the best performing students in each grade level should be in a G&T program in their neighborhood school. Egalitarianism should not limit their opportunity. These G&T students should be celebrated with zeal equal to that awarded to any athlete or entertainer, whose development is not hindered by lack of challenge by forcing them to play with students of lesser ability.

In his campaign against the SHSAT high schools Mayor de Blasio and the city Department of Education have decided to defund them. By law each school’s budget is supposed to be allocated by the “Galaxy Fair Student Funding Budget” – a formula that awards each school an amount based strictly on its student population and need demographics. For 2014 – 2015 Brooklyn Tech was given only 87 percent of its mandated budget–a $3.7 million shortfall that has necessitated its eliminating most of the programs that make BTHS such an enriched special learning environment; even textbook purchase has been eliminated. BTHS has only enough money to pay fixed overhead expenses such as teacher salaries. The DOE refuses to answer why they shortchanged BTHS.

Barry Gloger
SLT Member, Brooklyn Tech

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