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Queens Chronicle

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Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2009 12:00 am

No joy in Metsville

Dear Editor:

As a Mets fan I am rather sadden by the Mets performance this season. They have had their problems with injuries but they have alsolost games they should have won. There is no joy in Metsville. The Mets are slowly sinking and may not make the playoffs. They’ve gotten this new stadium named Citi Field, which was supposed to highlight new beginnings but has brought only the same old, same old. Maybe they should rename it Pity Field. Also I think the Mets this year should spell out- “Much Expected This Season.”

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.

Glen Oaks

A Judeo-Christian nation

Dear Editor:

Including Muslim holidays in the NYC school calendar opens the door for every other religious group to ask for the same thing (“Closing schools for two Muslim holidays?” July 23). Why are the Muslims any more worthy of a recognized holiday than the Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Confucianists, Wiccans, etc.?

NYC is indeed an ethnically diverse city. However, this does not mean that we have to bow to the demands of every ethnic and religious group in our midst. Why is it so difficult for our elected representatives to say that theU.S.(which includes NYC, the last I heard) is basically a Judeo-Christian country, based in Judeo-Christian philosophy? In NYC schools, Muslim kids are provided with special “prayer rooms” so that they can pray during Ramadan, yet Christian kids are banned from even saying a team prayer before a sports meet. What is good for one, is good for all.

Muslims need to be reminded that in most Islamic countries, churches and temples of other faiths are banned, it is illegal to own a Jewish torah and Christian bible, and even discussing the principals of Christianity or Judaism are punishable by death. This even extends to the world of charity, where in Islamic countries the Red Cross is banned, to be replaced by the Red Crescent. “Tolerance” should be a two-way street, not a one-way politically correct boulevard.

Ann Rychlenski

Ozone Park

Keep our reservoir

(This is an open letter to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe)

Dear Commissioner Benepe:

I am writing to voice my concern that the Ridgewood Reservoir be preserved as a natural area. We live in a city with eight plus million people and growing and to lose this and replace it with ballfields sounds insane. Filling in the reservoirs would require thousands of truckloads of dirt to go through our city and destroy an area that has attracted many endangered birds, plants and water life.

As a 60-year-old resident raised in Queens, Highland Parks had a bad reputation. It was pretty dangerous. About 10 years ago, I started going for walks with my dog there. The park was in terrible shape and totally neglacted. In the reservior, you had kids on ATV’s and guys having paint ball wars and there was plenty of vandalism and garbage.

The agreement is we need more ballfields. Well recently on Memorial Day, I biked from Juniper Valley Park to Astoria Park to Randall’s Island and I didn’t see one ballfield being used. Ballfields aren’t used 90 percent of the time. A natural area is used 100 percent of the time by many species, and once it’s gone its gone and can’t be replaced.

Everybody is talking about going green; well give our kids a place where they can enjoy and learn about nature and maybe we’ll have a better planet.

Richard Polgar

Maspeth

Queens unfairly portrayed

Dear Editor:

It has been noted that in the recently released movie “Julie and Julia,” Queens is treated with easy Manhattanite disdain, as a punch line and punching bag.

This is nothing new, of course.For many whose contact with Queens is limited to our airports, the Mets and the U.S. Open, their image of Queens is the home of bigots and rappers, Archie Bunker, 50 Cent and LL Cool J.

But we know better.Queens is the most diverse county in the country, where 170 languages are spoken and home to the most foreign born residents living in the U.S.This diversity is reflected in our rich cultural offerings and the unique character of our communities, industrial and suburban, home to new arrivals, longtime residents, and a melting pot of all the above.

Regardless of how Queens is portrayed in popular culture, those of us lucky enough to live here are proud to call it home.

Daniel Egers

Whitestone

Before mayoral control, schools were a mess

Dear Editor:

I wonder if the public were to take the time to understand underlying issues when they choose a stance to either support or rail up against the mayor on the issue of mayoral control.Does the public or even the lawmakers, who have never worked in the school setting, have the capacity to understand what happens in the schools and what mayoral control has achieved?

Broadly stated, subsequent to 40 years of operation under its own device and agency, the Board of Education saw a series of greatly needed reforms, subsequent to Mr. Bloomberg taking office (2002).

Mayoral control is basically the mayor’s right to oversee and maintain an authoritative presence over city agencies.Look again at history and what existed before:

The Lindsay administration rescinded mayoral control, seeking to resolve the problem of a dysfunctional bureaucracy amidst the backdrop of newly emerging legislation for a decentralized school system. Major issues of the day were the Civil Rights Movement, uprising demands for not only integration but for increased control of the larger community, which resulted in ousting several white and Jewish principals in Brooklyn.The UFT protested the removal of these individuals, as it became apparent that their removal was for no reason other than racial politics alone. Subsequent to a 31 day teachers strike, the BOE was restructured and born again; yet, far from finding appropriate resolution, it was contaminated by oppositional and contentious politically driven individuals.Operating within a status quo of corruption, a patronage hiring system, its leadership was far from the ideal of serving everyman, far from providing a solution.

An old New York Times article provides an adept description of the situation:

“School boards were known for scandals over drugs, patronage and sexual harassment. Lines of authority were confused, and sometimes illogical. Bureaucratic layers multiplied rather than decreased. Parents and community groups, feeling shut out by professional politicians and special interests, shun school board elections. Decentralization, conceived as a remedy for remote and insensitive bureaucracy, quickly took on a political cast. It became a movement in which minorities, especially blacks, sought control of their local schools.But this bid to redistribute political power challenged other interests, notably the teachers’ union. School boards and unions tangled, and in this atmosphere of bitterness and distrust, the Legislature wrote the decentralization law.”

Albert Shankar, UFT President, long recognized correctly that “school board politics were the politics of paralysis.” He saw the need for powerful leadership, publicly accountability, and no one in the city is more publicly accountable than the mayor.

It is the contention of this writer that dismantling the BOE has had major ramifications of eliminating a wasteful, inefficient and fraudulent bureaucracy.

We have seen an increase in smaller charter schools, which means smaller class size, greater leverage and stronger boundaries for teachers with a chance to build a greater sense of morale and professionalism. Teachers have seen increases in salaries which were not realized in several mayoral administrations. Vastly needed improvements in the renovation and construction of new school buildings have been made.

We are beginning to understand the results of putting a huge bureaucracy and extensive school boards between teachers and the student body. We are beginning to understand the ways in which normative issues were made more problematic and stigmatized rather than addressed and dealt with effectively.

Mayor Bloomberg has encouraged accountability, transparency and disclosure; these terms are the cornerstone of his platform.

Mayor Bloomberg was able exercise a previously relinquished authority and eliminate downright fraud and abuse that placed additional burdens upon and were milking the budget — taxpayer dollars.We’ve eliminated thousands of “placeholder positions” within an antiquated, bureaucratic system that was screaming for change. Isn’t this the kind of direction we need in a great leader?

Jamie Avery

Manhattan

Graduation rates rising

Dear Editor:

City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompsonaccuses the Departmentof Education of inflating graduation rates, buthis rhetoric doesn’t match his auditors’ findings (“Thompson tackles education control,” July 30). In fact, his office’s audit determined that the Department of Education has a 99 percent accuracy rate in calculating graduation figures. In other words, Mr. Thompson validated the 15 point rise in the graduation rate since Mayor Bloomberg won control of the schools. That increase follows a decade during which the graduation raterosejust a tenth of a point.

Mr. Thompson’sattempts to spin these positive findings into a scathing indictmenthasbeen widely criticized in the media.One outlet calledthe attacks“the most cynically fabricated accusations in many a political season.”

David Cantor

Press secretary

NYC Department of Education

Manhattan

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