Problems At PS 114
While The Wave does not usually print anonymous letters, the compelling public interest of this letter and the fact that it could reasonably bring retribution on its writers and her children lead us to print it in this form.
I am writing this letter anonymously since I have two children attending PS 114 and due to the nature of my job.
I am thrilled that there will soon be new administration at PS 114. I hope the new team will be more interested in the well-being of the whole child-emphasizing emotional as well as instructional success. There is much that needs to be done to turn PS 114 into a shining star. Instructionally, the school program is in great need of improvement. The staff has grown apathetic in my opinion offering the children a very mundane educational experience.
More importantly however, there is a problem at PS 114 that MUST be better addressed. Like many other parents, I am growing increasingly alarmed at the angry and unsafe culture that has evolved at PS 114. The last few administrators were ill-equipped to handle the challenges of the school's environment.
In the climate that currently exists in PS 114, students are part of an environment that pits victim against bully. This problem is an ingrained part of the school climate. My child has habitually been victimized to the point where her self-esteem is damaged. My child has come home with bloodied knees, head lumps, scratches, at the hands of roving bands of boys who think nothing of pushing kids to the ground for kicks. As a result, my child is undergoing counseling at my expense. In addition to the physical abuse, many students at PS 114 torment and ridicule their classmates as part of routine behavior.
It must be understood that bullying is a huge problem in our nation's schools. It is usually more pervasive in the more affluent neighborhoods. There is a lot of research on this subject if people care to look.
Parents and school administration at PS 114 are to blame for the dismal culture where bullying is the norm. Parents of these bullies refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem. They refuse to acknowledge that their children are physically and emotionally tormenting their peers. By turning a blind eye, they are in fact enabling their youngsters to continue this destructive behavior. They do not realize that they are raising children who will continue to abuse others. These children will be incapable of acknowledging the role they play in their circumstances as they go through life. Not to mention the fact that if these children cause serious harm to another student it could become a police matter and their children's future success could be ruined.
One former principal at the school refused to admit there was even a problem. He did not believe that in a school such as ours such a terrible problem could exist. He did nothing. The last principal was forced to admit there was a problem after a small group of parents of victims refused to let the matter get swept under the rug. As a result Chris George of the Rockaway Artists Alliance is managing a grant aimed at addressing bullying with the PS 114 school community. Recently they set up a meeting for parents and teachers to discuss the matter. It is amazing how few parents and teachers actually showed up.
Many of the bullies are children whose parents are active in PS 114. They refuse to recognize their children's behavior and have defended their children at the expense of victims.
The culture in the schoolyard in the morning and at recess has all the bells and whistles of a snake pit. I cringe when I think my child could come home completely belittled and demoralized, not to mention physically in-jured, at any time makes me sick. Now that the warm weather is here, the bloodied noses and limbs will be even more pervasive as the children will spend more time in the schoolyard.
Something needs to be done NOW. The new administration must fully acknowledge this problem and make bullying issues part of the school dialogue. Ongoing classroom lessons, peer mediation, and continual dialogue between teachers and students regarding bullying must happen at PS 114. There MUST be adequate ACT-IVE supervision in the schoolyard and in the classroom at all times. The children should be engaging in some organ-ized positive activities instead of using a dodge ball as a projectile missile. The adults must do all they can to stop bullying and encourage positive and constructive interaction between students.
Parents of PS 114's bullies need to wake up before it is too late. They need to do it for the sake of their own children as well as for the sake of the victims. Children must be held accountable for their behavior. It is up to PS 114 school administrators, teachers, and parents to ensure that the school is a safe, welcoming place where all can be free of anxiety to learn how to be productive, kind, and caring members of society.
A CONCERNED PS 114 PARENT
CYA Syndrome At P.S. 43
This past weekend my 5-year special needs child sustained two minor burns; one on his chin and one on his inner arm. These were caused by an iron, which I was using, had secured in a remote location of my home and innocently left unattended for 3 minutes.
When our son came crying to his father and myself, we immediately attended to him and even sought medical attention. We knew that this was a minor injury, and sent our son to school the next day, just like always.
Our school, P.S. 43, of which I am a very active parent, well known to the administrative and teaching staff, immediately called Children's Serv-ices and reported an incident of suspected child abuse. Investigators stormed my home and alarmed my children. We appeared in court and the entire case was dismissed without prejudice 72 hours later.
It has been a hellish 3 days and we are devastated by the innuendos and accusations directed at our family, particularly by the staff of P.S. 43. I was advised by one school administrator that "no one is untouchable." However, the Agency for Children's services maintains that an exceptionally large number of cases are being generated through this particular school and that often times, the proper protocol is often not engaged when school officials make these reports.
Realizing that child abuse is definitely a problem in today's world and that our children need to be protected. I wonder how many parents in this community have had an accusing finger pointed at them by over-zealous school nurses, social workers and principals when, in fact, thy are not abusers (nut rather nurturing, concerned, involved parents like us. The fact of the matter is that unfortunately, children do have accidents, sometimes very serious ones. A friend of mine has a son who broke both feet at once - go figure. And although I am personally at the school some 2 -3 times per week, on a first-name basis with many of the staff and had established an excellent reputation as an involved parent and advocate for my children, not one person thought enough of me of my family to say "hey, what happened to your son?" Instead, I was reported for suspected child abuse.
I would really like to see the people who are so trigger-happy and eager to call ACS and launch these horrible accusations to consider the ramifications for the accused if the accuser is, indeed wrong. However, I recognize that many of them suffer from the CYA syndrome...you know, Cover You A__, with reckless disregard of the harm they cause and the damage they do.
I'm hearing from parents who have been through the same thing, from the same school, from the same administration. There is something seriously wrong here and it needs to be addressed, perhaps our new Superintendent, Dr. Cashin, will lend a sympathetic ear...
Thanks for listening.
Our Precious Rights
Thank you for your excellent editorial on the absolute necessity for free speech in our country. It is this right, plus the other precious rights granted to us by the Constitution: freedom of press, religion and the right to free assemble and petition our government - that have made, and must continue to make our country so beloved by its citizens.
Get Priorities Straight
With regard to the Duane Reade building that everyone is up in arms about. Why aren't the people in the Rockaways upset with 116 Street, which is a disgrace instead of complaining about a building that's going to clean up the area?
I truly believe the people in the Rockaways should get their priorities straight.
Dirty War Criminals?
Our boys bombing and invading Iraq are not heroes; they are coward/bullies, mass murderers, and thieves for Exxon.
Our politicians who duped these kids and sent them into harm's way must be tried and punished as dirty war criminals.
Wave Is Worth It
I just read Frank Murray's letter in which he complains about paying $20 per year to read The Wave online. With all due respect, I think Mr. Mur-ray is way off base. He says he shouldn't have to pay $20 per year for something that was available for free. To the contrary, he should be thanking you for offering The Wave online all these months for free before charging a fee for it. Then he complains that all The Wave cares about is making $20. If that were true, then you would charge readers for back issues on the net. That is obviously not the case. Besides, The Wave is not a government institution with an unlimited budget. Its publishers are entitled to a return on their investment and hard work each week. Finally, he complains that he will not be able to keep up with Rockaway news because of the $20 charge. Again, not true. He could just stay one week behind by reading the archive edition for free. Or, like me, he could gladly pay the $20 charge for timely, thorough, comprehensive, thoughtful coverage of issues that affect our former hometown delivered right to our desktops every week. The bottom line is that where the $20 charge for internet viewers is concerned, I have just one comment- thank you for keeping the cost fair and reasonable.
Apologizes To Rockaway
Thanks for printing my letter in the Wave on Friday, March 28. I am hurt that out of a letter of some length, you would choose to use 3 words (a rat hole) of my letter as the title. I really feel you put a bad spin on what I was trying to say. My displeasure was not, or should not have been aimed at the Rockaway's, but at the Wave.
In my opinion, Rockaway was the greatest place in the world to live. With the Beach, Boardwalk, Rock-away's Playland, neighborhood stores, and great people, it was paradise. Nothing can ever compare with a warm summer Wednesday night at the boardwalk watching the fireworks, eating pizza, a cherry cheese knish, or Italian ice, unfortunately all of that was taken away. The houses around us were torn down to make way for rat infested lots. Whether out of choice or necessity, people moved away in droves. Everything that made Rockaway great was taken away from us with the promise that someday it would be better. Only now, some 30 plus years later are the Rockaway's turning around, and I couldn't be happier. I only wish it happened years ago, because I would have never left. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't long for the way the Rockaway's was back then.
As you can see, the Rockaway's will always have a special place in my heart. My intention was not to hurt or disparage the people, or the place that I still love. If the residents of the Rockaway's were hurt or offended my by comments I sincerely apologize. My rat hole comment was wrong, but came from many years of frustration. Rockaway was truly a paradise, and with God's help, it will be again.
FRANK R. MURRAY
On March 12, as American and British Armed Forces were preparing to disarm and remove Iraq's Dictator Saddam Hussein from power, the City Council passed an anti-war resolution.
If these radical left-wing Council Members who supported this anti-war resolution would wake up from the slumber, they would realize that America has been at war since Sept-ember 11, 2001. Perhaps they are pre-occupied with the earth-shattering problems of people smoking in bars and talking on their cell phones.
Disarming and removing Saddam Hussein is a crucial part of the Bush administration's war against terrorism. Unlike his predecessor, President Bush is putting America's security above the politics of the United Nat-ions.
The majority of the Queens Council Members voted against the anti-war resolution, including Councilman Joseph Addabbo - that is the least he could have done. Councilman Adda-bbo's reasoning that the resolution was watered down and does not fall into the jurisdiction of the City Council is weak. Is Councilman Adda-bbo implying he would have voted for an anti-war resolution that was not watered down?
Councilman Addabbo should have opposed the Council Members who supported the anti-war resolution with a strong and clear statement repudiating their radical politics. American men and women are defending our freedom in Iraq. Some of them live in the 32nd Council District. They deserve strong and unequivocal support from their Councilman.
Conservative District Leader, 23 A.D.