2004-01-09 / Letters



Education Spending All Wrong

Dear Editor,

The audience seemed stunned at the District 27 Board meeting as a representative from the Education Dep artment indicated that the school's Capital Plan would include tearing down all the schools built over twenty years ago. Is this a waste of money, or is this just an opportunity to feed into New York City's "construction industry", that has a growing reputation for corruption?

I am not a teacher by profession, but I grew up in a family of retired teachers, with many decades of teaching experience. I can assure you, that the Rockaways, and other parts of New York City could make better use of federal billions by just building new schools, and by rewiring the old ones to accommodate new technology needs.

Since the decentralization of education in the 1970's, the educational sys tem in America has declined for very simple reasons, and building new brick walls, without the proper educational tools on hand, will not help our children.

Since teachers are not allowed to speak to the press, I will try to speak up for them.

Children's educations could jump four grade levels in one year, if millions of dollars were spent on education materials, instead of bricks and mortar. Teachers in the higher performing school districts have been quietly mumbling the following for ten years: (1) Children need better reading textbooks, especially the basal reading books (the Dick and Jane books) written by Scott and Foresman. These were the leading reading textbooks used in New York State in the 1970's. When these reading books left the American system, so did literacy.

These books were effective in every state, and several parts of Europe, because these basal readers had a universal number of words the children learned at each grade level. These words were always listed in the back of each book. For example, a child should have learned almost 250 words by the end of the first grade, and about 5,000 new words by the end of the fifth grade. The basal readers also used a repetitive pattern of speech, called bunching.

Human beings learn to read or decode words with repetition. Elimin ate the patterns of repetition, and you will eliminate the literacy skills. Modern methods with phonetics can work, but most schools don't have the phonetic equipment to carry out the program. It is also a bit unnatural for the very young to learn to read with the phonetic linguistic approach. If this is not true, then why are so many people in the country illiterate?

Millions of dollars of federal education money should also be used to set up a special commission to write better, more effective math textbooks. Modern math books don't bother to show many examples of solved problems. Algebra problems often lack a few steps of explanation, that most American children can't solve ad vanc ed problems. Math is a fixed science. Examples should be easy to read and easy to follow. The objective is to teach the child how to use math in their daily life, and how to solve basic and advanced problems without boring the children to death.

It's not funny when a small country like Singapore has math and science scores that greatly exceed that of the U.S., Germany and France. It is also not amusing that the U.S. companies have no choice except to go to Singa pore and India if they want good computer programmers. Some thing is wrong.

Whatever we are doing in this country, it's not working, so I suggest you listen to some sensible suggestions, since the teaching profession is under siege, and no one is allowed to talk. We need more money spent on writing workbooks, spelling workbooks, math workbooks and more videos to teach history and science. Most American children know so little of our country's history and can't identify our nation's founding fathers other than George Washington and Ben Franklin.

Before the city hands all of this federal money over to the corrupt construction industry, I would suggest that they buy some school tools. We are losing our country to pure ignorance. Parents will have to fight for their children, now, as they have never done before.

People can learn endless amounts of knowledge when they are young. Why waste their lives, giving federal and state education money over to the mob? Everyone wants to get their hands into the pot of education funding. Why have a special school that children have to apply for, when all the schools can be excellent centers of learning, if they have the right equipment?


Thanks The Captain

Dear Editor,

I want to personally thank Captain Paul H. Piekarski and all the fine men and women at the 100th. Pre cinct. The end of the year is app roach ing our door, butA0I have to say since the new Captain has taken over there has been a big difference. I found out his door is always open and questions do get answered. The one thing Rockaway needed is a person who works with the whole community. Captain Piekarski, men and women of the 100 PrecinctA0great job.


Chapey A Champion

Dear Editor,

Dr. Geraldine Chapey has served with unique distinction as a member of the New York State Board of Reg ents. Following the controversial results of the June 2003 New York State Regents Examinations on the Mathematics A and Physics tests, Dr. Chapey championed the cause of the unfairness of the original tests.

Acting upon Dr. Chapey's advocacy, the leadership of the New York State Education Department agreed to review the questions on both examinations. Subsequently, the Education Department acknowledged that they had erred with their test question selection. The New York State Dep artment of Education then ordered the final results of both exams to be re-scored. Thousands of students who had taken either exam, had their original failing grades changed to passing grades.

Dr. Geraldine Chapey has demonstrated her lifelong devotion to the education of the children of New York State.


Fly The Flag Correctly

Dear Editor,

This letter is for the citizens living on or around the 100 block on Beach 117 Street.

To some, questions may arise as to the disappearance of the United States flag which once flew there until around 7:30 p.m. on January 2. The flag disappeared because I re moved it, due to its disheartening condition and blissful neglect for weeks, if not months.

I removed the flag at my own will because I believed if I did not do so, I would be allowing an injustice to our flag. I am currently serving our country in the United States Army National Guard. The Wave published my picture and a paragraph explaining my graduation from Basic Com bat Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina on the June 17 issue. I take pride in protecting my country and it's flag and it may require sacrificing my own life to do so.

The real irony comes in the fact that the flag on Beach 117 Street at the Boardwalk is part of a memorial to those who were murdered by terrorists on September 11. This memorial is a garden with an improvised flag mast, which improperly hangs hooks, locks and bolts to the cable holding the flag. The pole also incl udes the insignia of the FDNY and the NYPD.

To see a U.S. flag flying there which was frayed, torn and stained with rust made my stomach flip. I am serving on Federal Orders at a military installation in Westchester Coun ty, New York and rarely are given days off.A0 I spend such off days here in my home community of Rock away Park. I lowered the flag out of sense of duty because I am a soldier and I care about my country's flag. I will not apologize to any person for any reason for doing that either. I frequently remove flags in similar condition because they are on public property and if no other person can claim responsibility for maintaining a flag that they raise, then you do not deserve to raise one. Plain and simple. I have taken these flags to my father who is a Vietnam Veteran and a member of a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Bergen County, New Jersey. I see to it that these flags are disposed of in a dignified manner.

I remember the Wave publishing the guidelines for properly displaying the U.S. Flag, shortly after the terrorist attacks. I have these guidelines memorized and I can quote them verbatim. Several citizens of this community have voiced similar concerns and objections about flags left in such condition. I stand with those individuals and encourage you to spread the word. I have entered the military dur ing wartime and have gone thr ough training with many men and women who have since been dep loyed to Iraq, some of whom I keep in contact with through email. If a person wants to be patriotic enough to raise a flag then they should do so in accordance with Flag Etiquette. I will lower more of these flags if I see they are in such decrepit condition and it is not a crime to do so. I do that because I believe I am more patriotic than someone who is simply too lazy or careless to remove a damaged flag and allow it to fly regardless of it's condition. I personally believe it should be considered a crime to leave the colors of our country out to get frayed, torn, faded and damaged. I thank the Veterans who served be fore me to protect the country and this community and hope I can follow in their footsteps. God Bless the United States.


Too Much Switching

Dear Editor,

Although we have not succeeded in reestablishing the old LIRR route, now that the AirTrain is running, perhaps the PA/MTA could consider changing the Rockaway Park Shuttle to terminate in Howard Beach, rather than Broad Channel. This would make the AirTrain service much more attractive. Right now, it requires taking the shuttle to Broad Channel, switching to the "A" to Howard Beach, and then switch again to AirTrain. Too much switches. A single switch in Howard Beach might work for business travelers and those who work at the airport.


Santa Coming to Rockaway

Dear Editor,

Reading the New York Daily News Queens section on December 26, it says that the 57 Avenue and 80 Street Grand Avenue, Elmhurst gas tank site, is becoming a 6 BD public acre park. Santa must be on his way to Rockaway to do the same thing here, with our Beach 110 Street gas tanks site. Beautiful trees, benches, clear view of the water, maybe some docking for boats wouldn't it just look grand. I wonder when they are going to start the project.

Then I was awakened by the alarm clock, and it was just a dream. Rockaway was getting nothing. They might attempt to put a Home Depot, Costco, BJ's, or something like that. You know, something good for us: more traffic, lots of parking, stuff like that, things we really need here.


Where Was the Public Notice?

Dear Editor,

In conversation we both have ack nowledged there is not much interest in habitat protection nor coastal plan ning in Rockaway - through Fri ends of Rockaway, I try to promote such.

It is hard to understand how the system which includes Eugenia Flat ow, - would let her schedule a borrow pits presentation in Brook lyn at the next Jamaica Bay task force meeting and not in Rock away at this crucial time.

If Norton Basin off Bays water/Far Rockaway is the designated pilot pro ject site, then let the task force meeting be rescheduled nearby. Also, the Dubos Point/Mott Point State Park mosquito control should be on the agenda. She refuses to schedule it. Why?

While I have been calling both City Councilmen's offices to determine the schedule of the Arverne Uniform Land Use Review Hear ing, I get now here. But an HPD (lead agency for the project) mail indicates two were held in Nov ember. Were they publicly noticed? Who was informed?



Dear Editor,

I wish to express my condolences to Dr. Geraldine Chapey. Regrettably, I was recently informed of the passing of her friend.

I would also like to express my sincerest sympathy to Audrey Pfeffer on the passing of her father.


Piping Plovers at Risk

Dear Editor,

Arverne's vegetation has become more critically important to migrating and year-round species now that other Jamaica Bay and Rockaway Greenland has been lost: namely, the huge "Gateway Estates" wetland/up roar territory north of the Belt Park way and east of Pennsylvania Ave nue, that was previously mapped as undeveloped park; the huge wetland north and south of Seagirt Boulevard, west and east of the Queens/Nas sau line; the rapidly shrink ing vegetated islands in the middle of Jamaica Bay; the aforesaid encroachments on the southern edge of the Wildlife Refuge, due to looking-the-other-way by developer-serving management of the Gateway National Recreation Area (GNRA); needless destruction in 2002 of trees along the entire length of road from Riis Park to Breezy Point; and the encroachment upon GNRA land by the private, gated, Breezy Point Cooperative, which has hired turncoat Kevin Buckley, former Super intendent of GNRA, to help with encroachment.

Also in grave danger are the re maining populations of Piping Plo vers and the often-accompanying Oyster Catchers. I have seen and carefully watched Piping Plover pairs nesting directly on the sand, mid-beach, between Beach 74 Street and Beach 32 Street, in their egg-laying and young-rearing season bet ween early April and late July. Vehi cular traffic on the beach is death to these tiny palm-sized heroic ultra-long distance visitors, since they do not fly away in the face of an oncoming menace, but instead hunker down, depending on their camouflage. Beach traffic could only be abundantly multiplied if development - particularly private, profit driven development - proceeds as the land thieves demand.

The Plovers cannot be taught to nest elsewhere: they MUST nest within yards of where they were born. And the Breezy Point population is no salvation for the Plovers; a few years ago, a Breezy Point Coop goon, incited by the Coop leadership's loud vitriolic campaign against the Plovers, methodically drove his all-terrain vehicle back and forth over 21 Piping Plover nests, wiping out all but one of them. And now Breezy Point has Kevin Buckley to help with removing the final obstacles include Piping Plover nest sites. (A federal court packed with Reagan/Bush enemies of the people has ruled that the publicly-paid-for-dredge sand that drifts from the central Rockaway beaches westward to Breezy Point, resulting in widening west-end beaches, belongs not to all New Yorkers, but to the private squatters at Breezy Point.)


Talk About Being Misquoted

Dear Editor:

Although it should not have been necessary to say anything beyond the opinion that I expressed in my letter which appeared in your newspaper a couple of weeks ago, Mrs. Maxfield has chosen to turn my statements into something personal between us, but I will not stoop to her level.A0 My goal was not to accuse anyone of anything, which is why you may notice that I never mentioned her name or anyone else's name, for that matter.A0 I was simply reiterating state ments that had been publicly made in various forums. The fact that Mrs. Maxfield imagined she was being maliciously misquoted is not only laughable but goes to show that she feels the need to justify the comments that she had published and may even recognize that they were not at all flattering to her own child's school.A0 Be that as it may, although Mrs. Maxfield may find it difficult to accept, my letter was not about her, nor does she have any bearing on this entire discussion. My letter was writ ten to compliment a well-run school with a phenomenal staff and to question how anyone can feel comfortable with vague proposals for restructuring that directly impact our children.A0

Unless and until a plan that en sures a well-rounded education, proper safety precautions, and many more specifics than we have been given is publicly presented, then I do not feel that any comparisons to Mark Twain are at all appropriate.A0 I also feel that the efforts of Dr. Cashin, Mr. Mitt man, the staff of Region 5, and Mr. O'Connell are extremely praiseworthy.

That alone, however, is not enough of a reason to continually endorse the little information that has been disseminated regarding the particulars of the implementation of the sweeping proposed school changes. Reg ardless of how much I may like and respect all of those people, I would never allow my child to walk blindly into a situation that may not be in her best interest.A0 I have an open mind and, as I have expressed to Dr. Cas hin and Mr. Mittman personally, I will indeed look forward to learning more about their plans as they develop and are shared with me.A0 As a parent, my first and foremost concerns are for my children.A0 That is and al ways will be my "fixation," Mrs. Max field.A0 As a Rockaway resident, no matter how unwelcoming I may at times find some people's behavior toward me and my family, my secondary concerns are most certainly for this "community" and the positive affect having wonderful schools with exciting programs would have on the quality of life and the value of our real estate.A0 I am a strong proponent of choice and can only hope that someday soon I feel confident enough to believe that the schools on this peninsula present real choices for a superb education for my children and all of the Rockaway children.A0 As I stated previously, I believe that improvements to the local schools are very possible if they are carefully made with every child's best interest at heart and not rushed into in order to meet a deadline.A0

It is always fascinating to watch others express their opinions freely but as soon as I express mine, personal attacks inevitably follow.A0 I imagine that this letter will probably spur on five more letters from friends and relatives of Mrs. Maxfield, as has predictably happened in the past.A0 Other well-respected residents of our neighborhood and I have come to expect those tactics, which is why so many of us are reluctant to attend PTA meetings or openly express our opinions anymore.A0 It is just another form of the bullying that has been a controversial subject in this neighborhood for the past several years.A0 By the way, thank you Mrs. Maxfield for your well wishes to my family on our journey.A0 It would seem that you have come quite a long way in what you wish for us.A0 It may disappoint you to learn, however, that we are not going anywhere anytime soon!


Bush Presidency

Dear Editor,

As your letters section once again turns to the political debate, I feel the need to posit a response to a letter in last week's Wave submitted by Jesse H. Plutzer. It is so filled with the standard unsupported assertions that a counterpoint is demanded. To start off, can we please put this assertion of the Bush presidency as illegitimate to rest? Let's review the facts: we live in a representative democracy in which an electoral college system determines the presidency. The answer which eludes so many Democrats is that this country is formed from a union of fifty states. Keyword: union. Therefore, implicit in the formation of this union is that all states have a share in the determination of governance. Otherwise, why would states like Montana, West Virginia or Rhode Island want to be part of this country when they would be bullied around by states with larger populations like New York and California. I don't know about you but if I lived in Helena, Montana or Charleston I'd be damned angry to see a bunch of people from Los Angeles or Brooklyn determining what goes on in government all the time. That being said, the method of achieving a fair balance between states rights and the popular vote evolved into this system which can be weighted in such a way so as to allow each state a more representational voice in government, ergo: the electoral system.

Point of fact: George W. Bush won over 60% of the state votes (i.e. the majority in more than 30 states voted for Bush). Point of fact: even the precious New York Times, the bastion of reason, when not functioning as the mouthpiece of the left wing or fabricating front page news, admitted (albeit three months later on page 23) that the Florida recount legitimately showed Bush to be the winner in Florida. Yet this notion persists that something was stolen from someone. That someone was disenfranchised.

Stop feeding into the fiction of the helpless, uninformed, American public. During any election there are always a given number of votes that are thrown out due to technical error or human error, yet the Democrats only complain about this when they lose the election and only in those electoral precincts where the lost. Worse yet, could it be that liberals in New York and California think they know better than the rest of country just because they have more people packed in their states? Why hold elections then? Just ask China who should lead. They have 1.2 billion people, surely they know better than out measly 285 million of which only 60 million actually vote.

Regarding Plutzer's tirade against Lynch, President Bush and the war in Iraq, he proved again that age does not equal wisdom. Were that true, such time honored traditions as believing the world is flat and that the earth is the center of the universe would still be prevalent. Those theories were thousands of years old before their flaws were revealed. With all due respect Mr. Plutzer not everyone who believes differently than you is being bad. Spare us your condescension. You make that mistake so inherent in the majority of liberals: a belief that you can take the moral high ground while ignoring the pesky and dirty details of reality. The belief that you alone are arbiter of what's right for those sordid, unkempt masses of unenlightened Americans. I'd love to shout peace, love and understanding all day long and spout on about Machiavellian conspiracy theories, unfortunately I've come to realize that life does not afford me those luxuries very long before the world comes knocking on my door. People are always trying to deny their complicity in the injustices of their age, you might as well try to hold back the ocean. The first step towards wisdom is understanding how little we do know and taking it from there.

Were there weapons of mass destruc tion in Iraq? We still don't know for sure. We do know that they were there at one time, just ask the families of thousands of Kurds who were killed by chemical weapons. We do know that Iraq has played an important role in facilitating international terrorism as evidenced by recently discovered documents linking Muhammad Atta with high level Iraqi officers, as evidenced by Al Qaeda operatives seeking refuge in Iraq after the war in Afghanistan, as evidenced by Ansar al-Islam fighters in Northern Iraq, as evidenced by international terrorist Abul Abbas who was captured in Baghdad. Do I need to go on? Could you really be so naEFve to think that the present ad ministration does not realize the importance of addressing hotspots like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. How many fronts on this War on Terrorism would you have our generals open? Can you not see a well-planned strategy when you see one? Some rogue nations will fall by force, while others can be won over by diplomacy and forceful negotiation. Witness Libya's recent interest in re-entering the civilized world. What would you prefer the president to do? Lob a bunch of intercontinental ballistic missiles and wish for the best? And don't tell me that opting out is an answer85look where it got us on 9/11. Perhaps you would prefer appeasement as a state policy?

This war is being waged on many fronts, each requiring a different strategy. A central part of this effort is stability in Iraq, which holds a central geographic position in the Middle East. The lack of historical perspective is puzzling when only recently we ended a fifty-year cold war, which was fought on fronts throughout the planet. Do we not all agree that the world is a better place now that the U.S. and the USSR are no longer pointing 10,000 nuclear warheads at each other? And still, people debase Ronald Reagan's vision throughout the struggle. As the saying goes, "History is written by the victorious." What will the coming generations say of this time when it is over? I don't know, but if this past is an indication, the books will not linger over the cynical and critical. What Mr. Plutzer clearly does not realize is that a failure to adequately address these external threats to our nation head-on will leave us no country to come back to. Furthermore, these unsubstantiated views of our economic and social state are frankly bizarre given the fact to that our social welfare system has never been stronger. (I know, I've been working in medical clinics in Bushwick, Brooklyn for ten years.) Civil rights are expressed more openly than at any time in history and we enjoy the longest life expectancy and the highest standards of living ever known. Certainly, there is always room to improve our responsibility to the environment, improve global problems and strive for a more perfect society but Mr. Plutzer makes it sound like we're living in age of bru tishness. No, what the history books will show are the results of action, strength of conviction and most importantly courage. For my part, I'll follow the lead. Let's not delude ourselves85there are no simple answers. What make us uniquely human is ironically was divides us. Our differences and complexities are continually being tested and played out on stages large and small. Our success or failure to work through the conflicts will ultimately determine whether there will be a future or just dusty history books filled with worm-eaten pictures of our vanity.


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