2001-01-27 / Letters

Jorge Speaks

Dear Editor;

I would like to thank Howard Schwach for the kind comments in his January 20 "Rockaway Short Takes" column. His generous words regarding my candidacy for city council, and more importantly about my years of advocacy for the Rockaway communities, were greatly appreciated.

However, as someone who has worked to raise close to half a million dollars for programs of quality to serve Rockaway’s children, I think it is important that I clarify one point in the column that touched upon my role in a proposed Beacon program for MS 180. As the founder and director of the Rockaway Artists Alliance KidsmART after school program at MS 180, a program which has served hundreds of six to 18 year old kids as well as provide jobs for local teens and artists, and of the RAA summer camp KidsmART at Fort Tilden, as a past executive board member of the PS 114 Parents Association, as co-chair (with School Board President Steven Greenberg) of District 27’s CORE committee (Committee for Reform and Education of District 27), and as co-chair (with Joel Hamberger of District 27) of the PRYSE (Project to Reach Rockaway’s Youth on Safety and Education) Education and School Initiative Committee, I am thoroughly aware of the need to bring quality education to all the children of District 27. It was that goal that was the touchstone of my opposition to the placement of a Beacon program, which would have included opening the building to adults for drug and alcohol counseling at MS 180. It was at this time that the CORE committee was diligently working to get MS 180 magnet funding, which would have helped restore the school as a viable academic option to the District 21 schools, which were and still are the middle schools of choice for the west end parents.

While I appreciate and share Mr. Schwach’s desire to have the best recreational and educational opportunities for our children, I was unable to share his enthusiasm for this particular project in this particular school.

This was not an easy position to take on this complex issue. I welcome the opportunity to personally discuss and to clarify, in public, all of the reasons that led to my position on the Beacon program.

I hope in the future to be able to call upon him to help advocate for the type of programs that I am determined to bring to all of the communities of the 32 Council District, programs that will realize our shared vision of superior education for all students of District 27.



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