2002-05-04 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk by Howard Schwach

From the Editor's Desk by Howard Schwach

Some odds and ends that need to see the light of day:

I have problems with seeing Saudi Arabia as an ally, despite all the oil they have. First of all, the majority of the terrorists that flew aircraft into the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon were Saudi citizens. Second of all, they demanded that women in our military follow rules (while in-country) that are anathema to everything we stand for (and, we stood for it). Third of all, they refused us permission to use our own bases on their soil to attack the terrorist Taliban in Afghanistan. Then, the nation's rulers held a series of telethons to raise money for the families of those who blew themselves up while killing hundreds of Israeli citizens. Now, the Saudi's demand that a plane bringing their crown prince be handled only by male air controllers. If it had not been for American blood in the Gulf War, Saudi Arabia would now be part of Iraq. If it is the Saudi oil that causes us to cowtow to that backward oligarchy, then we should simply take the oil and let it go at that. We can hardly be any more unpopular with the Arab despots than we already are.

* * * * *

I recently filed a Freedom Of Information Law (FOIL) request with Community School District 27, asking for any documents relating to the rental or lease of the building at 82-01 Rockaway Boulevard. The district office now has all four floors of the commercial building and it seems to me that the money would be better spent in school classrooms. The district has not yet responded to my FOIL request, and they probably never will, although, by law, they must respond within a specified amount of time.

* * * * *

Mayor Bloomberg has called for a whopping $1.50 raise per pack cigarette tax. While I think it is a good idea because it would probably cut down on the number of people who commit suicide each year by puffing away, I realize that the new tax might be a death knell for many small businesses that survive by selling the coffin nails to those who want to take part in the death by puffing syndrome. Many people who do smoke tell me that the new tax will not make them quit. They will simply either go outside the city to buy their cigarettes or they will do so at one of the many websites that sell them with no questions asked about age or anything else.

* * * * *

The rise in gun crimes is New York City is becoming a concern as of late. Through April 14 of 2001, the city saw 366 gunshot victims in 342 shootings. This year, during the same period, there were 463 victims during 405 shootings. I hate to say that I told you so, but doing away with the NYPD Street Crime Unit was bound to bring more guns into play in society. They might have scrambled some sensitivities and might have even made some whopping mistakes, but they got the job done. They took guns off the street and, in this city, that is often the name of the game.

* * * * *

It's time to see how privatization of the schools really works. Philadelphia has just turned 42 of its schools over to private firms, including several schools that will go to the Edison Corporation (run by Floyd Flake) and two or three to local colleges. While I am against privatization, this is a chance to see how it works. If the schools are a success, then I would have to admit that perhaps there is something to it. If not, then we should forget about the "experiment" planned for New York City. What will probably happen, is that the schools will fail and the private contractors will then blame the failures on the unions, the teachers, the city, or just about anybody but themselves. That is what happened in the past and there is no reason to think that it will not happen again.

* * * * *

Those who wonder why new teachers quit their job in the first two or three years have no idea of the reality of what a new teacher goes through. It is a fact that fully half of new teachers quit within the first five years. That is a startling statistic. Another startling statistic is that nearly 20 percent of rookie teachers leave the city in the first 14 months. Why do they leave? For money (teachers in the suburbs average $30 thousand a year more than city teachers), because there is no longer any discipline allowed in city schools (serious crime in the schools is up seven percent this year) and because they are overburdened by rules and by supervisors who have no idea about that they should be doing to help new teachers get acclimated to the realities of the system. "For me, spending a school year in a city school was like spending a year in a precinct holding pen," one new teacher said shortly after leaving for a Nassau School.

* * * * *

The Board of Education, facing $354 million in classroom cuts, voted recently to spend $300 thousand to find out if it is hiring enough minority teachers. The study is designed to "come up with an action plan to create a diverse work force." Talk about reality.

* * * * *

The Lawrence School System is having a distinct problem. Seems that a popular coach at Lawrence High School with a winning program is also a racist – that is, if you believe what is being said about him. The coach, who is up for tenure, reportedly called a Jewish JV coach the K-word and then told the kids that the JV coach was a "539," which, if you look at the telephone keypad, translates into "Jew." I have never heard that before, but I guess it could be a racial slur. In any case, the coach is successful, so many in the high school support him despite his comments. The district's administration has put off ruling on the coach's tenure. Had the coach used the N-word about a black colleague, he would have been long gone. I guess it's less damaging to use the K-word.

* * * * *

Tens years ago this week, two dozen people gathered on the median on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 144 Street. There had been a number of fatal accidents in the area, most of them due to a car spinning out and crashing head-on into a car coming the other way. The city had a plan to place barriers along the center of the road in that area and to cut off the direct access that then existed to Cronston Avenue. Local residents screamed that the plan would mean that kids and adults would die because fire engines and ambulances would not be able to access Cronston quickly enough. They also argued that the plan would be a hardship for school buses coming from Breezy Point to PS 114. The plan was implemented and the traffic deaths stopped. There were no problems with fire apparatus and ambulances responding to the area. School buses quickly found their way. It is an object lesson that politicians should learn about always listening to the community. Sometimes, even the community activists can be wrong.


Return to top


Email Us
Contact Us

Copyright 1999 - 2014 Wave Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved

Neighborhoods | History