2015-11-11 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

How To Improve Schools

To The Editor:

How can we improve New York City Schools?

1) Eliminate mayoral control. Our mayor is controlled by the very wealthy who wish to make profits by destroying public schools, replacing teachers with online learning and opening charter schools which are publicly funded and privately operated. Charter schools have no transparency and are frequently involved in financial scandals.

2) Abolish the Leadership Academy for aspiring principals. This fast-tracked school leader academy created by former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has produced many abusive, incompetent leaders, some of whom have ended up on the news.

3) Remove inept, corrupt, inexperienced principals. There are hundreds of schools leaders, many who are very young and do not have enough experience as administrators, or as educators either. They have been brought on to destabilize their schools and push the mayor’s harmful agenda. NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña has, for the most part, left them in place.

4) Stop the war on veteran teachers. When Klein took control of NYC schools in 2002, one of the first things he did was he gave the principals control of the school’s budgets. Principals are being encouraged to push veteran teachers out to cut costs. Seasoned teachers offer much expertise and are mentors to new staff.

5) Reduce class size. Many of our classrooms have high class sizes proving the mayor does not truly want to improve schools. It’s virtually impossible to improve academic performance with 32 students of varying abilities in a class.

6) Stop spending money on online learning and worthless consultants. Tens of thousands of dollars are spent on consultants who share the latest fads, taking money away from the classroom. More and more time is being spent on online learning, such as I-Ready, replacing authentic, traditional instruction.

7) Bring back traditional reading, writing and math curricula. For over a decade, our classrooms have been dominated by poor curricula, most notably the Reading and Writing Project founded by Lucy Calkins, a friend and colleague to Chancellor Fariña. Millions in contracts have been awarded to Calkins despite a huge resistance to the program by educators and no research supporting its efficacy. Many fuzzy math programs have been used in that same time – for example TERC Investigations, Everyday Math – leaving students behind.

8) Eliminate Common Core standards and testing. The standards were written by people with no K-12 experience, and they are highly developmentally inappropriate and tests and test-prep dominate students’ days in school.

9) Remove student scores from teacher and principal evaluations. Such high-stakes testing forces educators to “teach to the test.”

10) Stop listening to people like Bill Gates and hedge fund managers on education. The Gates Foundation has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into initiatives without consulting educators and takes no responsibility when those initiatives fail. Hedge fund managers and other wealthy donors are pumping millions of dollars in political campaigns in order to further their privatization agenda.

11) Elected officials need to start listening to rank and file teachers. Union leaders do not make decisions based on what’s best for students and in fact in the last decade or so, have not even worked for what’s best for their members.

12) Listen to parents. Parents want to be heard and are tired of their concerns being ignored. It’s time to place students’ needs first.

Abigail Riva, parent
Hollis, NY

Remember 1939

To The Editor:

1939 was a year to be remembered. Hollywood released a record number of films, among them Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz. It was known as the year that the most films were ever released by all of the major studios. Americans flocked to the movie theaters in record numbers to see these opulent extravaganzas. While Americans were trying to forget about the gathering storm clouds of war on the horizon, reality set in on September 1, 1939, when the worst conflict the world had ever experienced began in Europe when Germany viciously and deliberately attacked Poland. Innocence was blown away, just like Dorothy’s house was blown to Oz. 1939 – a year to remember.

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

Make Voting Easier

To The Editor:

I am glad that more money will be given for security to several housing complexes. That is important since crime breeds and security is necesssary in addition to guards and cameras.

I applaud the Mets for being able to compete in the World Series and it is wonderful that they did go far enough to compete. I am proud of them. However ticket prices for baseball games and other sporting events are very high. Also it used to be that baseball games used to be on non-cable channels. What happened?

I applaud DA Brown for his 27th year of being Queens District Attorney and congratulate Peter Vallone Jr. in gaining a civil court judgeship. He is following in the footsteps of his grandfather. He was a wonderful councilman and I knew him personally.

I heard that crime is down in NYC but high in the nation. How can that be true if every day on the radio and TV I hear of crimes, murders, rapes and robberies being committed in NYC? Are statistics being altered?

I heard that the approval rating of our present mayor is very low. That is true. He is not effective at all.

I am appalled that there was not a large turnout for the election Tuesday. I think that earlier voting should be encouraged, and also by phone or by mail. People work and find it difficult to come to a polling station on Election Day.

We better become interested in our government at all levels. The voice in a democracy is necessary.

I am glad that the government shutdown was prevented and the debt ceiling was raised. Why is this such an issue every year?

We as a nation must get our act together.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Meat And Cigarettes

To The Editor:

Thank you to the World Health Organization for having the courage to speak truth to power: meat, like cigarettes and asbestos, does cause cancer! No US health agency would ever say this for fear of losing Congressional funding.

The World Cancer Research Fund and a number of other international health agencies have been advising for years that meat consumption raises the risk of colon and other forms of cancer, but the WHO panel was actually able to determine a causal effect.

The 630-page report was drafted by a panel of 22 experts from 10 countries who reviewed 800 studies of the link between meat and cancer. These included animal experiments, studies of human diet and health, and research into cellular processes that cause cancer.

The panel’s conclusions evoked strong responses, with obvious resistance from the meat industry and calls for warning labels, akin to those mandated for cigarettes, from environmental groups.

Cancer of the colon is expected to kill nearly 50,000 Americans this year, mostly through a self-inflicted diet. Fortunately, annual per capita US meat consumption has dropped by 15 percent from a high of 121 pounds in 2002, as consumers switch to healthier, more convenient, and tastier plant-based alternatives. Felix Britt Fresh Meadows

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
November 1, 2015
P O Box 6195
Sioux Falls, SD 57117-6195

Dear Citibank:

Re: We Reject The Resolution Of Disputes By Arbitration.

I, Leonard Lanzone, and my wife, Mrs. Lanzone, reject the resolution of disputes by arbitration for all of our accounts, joint and sole, at Citibank.

Thank you for stating that you will not close our accounts if we reject arbitration. I have banked continuously at Citibank since 1987 through three major Citibank financial crises without one dispute.

Class action lawsuits are a lesser evil than binding arbitration. My unanswered letter of January 25, 2013 to the Claims Administrator for the Citibank $590 million class action lawsuit declared that class action to be invalid, because it was incomprehensible and therefore did not affect my legal rights. And I can understand why corporations (none of which are persons) like Citibank are attempting to prevent people from joining together in class actions, the only effective way for individuals to sue larger entities, but forced arbitration goes even a step further by denying all exiting constitutional legal rights to sue under the law i.e. no day in court for “non-corporate persons,” not even small claims court.

Citibank, like most banks now, pays negligible interest to depositors and small dividends to stockholders who pay government fines for wrongdoing, while executives continue to be over-compensated. Your request that we accept binding arbitration is in effect a request to protect Citibank’s executive compensation from the claims of individuals.

Today’s huge front page lead article in The New York Times, “Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking Deck of Justice,” provides all the details, including: “…the rules of arbitration largely favor companies, which can even steer cases to friendly arbitrators…”; “The monopolist gets to use its monopoly power to insist on a contract effectively depriving its victims of all legal recourse,” Supreme Court Justice Kagan; and “…arbitration keeps any discussion of discriminatory practices hidden…”

Leonard Lanzone, Mrs. Lanzone

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