2005-11-18 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

By Howard Schwach


Nobody asked me, but …

I hate to say I told you so, but take a look at the citywide scores on the eighth grade Science test. Test scores sank by a full eight percent this year on tests. Why? Because city schools no longer teach Science or Social Studies to our students. Because Region Five mandates 10 periods of “literacy” and 10 periods of Mathematics (the two subjects that mean something on the promotional calendar) and with at least five periods of Kaplan Test Taking Skills, there is little time for either Social Studies or Science and, in many schools, those subjects are taught only three times a week. We may be doing better on the tests, but students are learning less content area material than they did before the mayor took over and made the standardized test scores the benchmark by which the system will be graded.

...The Democrats keep complaining that they had no chance to win the mayoralty because Bloomberg had so much of his own money to spend. The fact is, Ferrer never had a chance and would not have won even if Bloomberg cut down and matched him penny for penny. The Dems lost the election (as they did the last three) because the party continues to put up the same old-line hack candidates time after time. Mark Greene, Ruth Messinger, Fernando Ferrer – all discredited and repudiated liberals. The only candidate that could have given Bloomberg a run for his money was Anthony Weiner, an outsider who was rejected by the party faithful but almost managed to come up with a tiebreaker election despite the party’s disdain. The party has begun to push Adolpho Carrion for mayor in 2009, another old-line hack who won’t be able to beat whomever the Republicans run.

...The opening of Tribute Park was a touching moment in Rockaway history and those who planned and executed the day should be congratulated. As far as I could see, there were only two discordant notes on the day. The first is that local artist Patrick Clark did not come through and complete his glass cupola with the names of all of the Rockaway residents who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. That forced the daily papers and television stations to focus on the Firefighter’s memorial rather than on Rockaway’s memorial. Secondly, Not one of the elected officials from the eastern end of the peninsula showed up. State Senator Malcolm Smith told us that his child was really ill and that is a good reason, but we have yet to hear from Greg Meeks, James Sanders, Jr. or Michelle Titus as to why they did not show despite the fact that their constituents were lost as well.

...Dean Skelos lives in Nassau County. He probably has never stepped foot in Rockaway. Perhaps, he has flown over the peninsula on the way to JFK Airport and he might have looked down at the peninsula and wondered where it was. In any case, Skelos, a Republican who is the State Senate’s Deputy Majority Leader also sits on the MTA Capital Program Review Board. Last week, Skelos had a big impact on Rockaway. He vetoed a $149 million item in the MTA’s capital plan that was earmarked for 250 new buses for the private bus lines now owned by Jerome Cooper – including Green Bus, Jamaica Bus and Triboro Bus. Skelos said that it was “not wise” to allocate the money before the lines are actually taken over by the MTA, but he knows full well that it will take months, if not years, to get the money earmarked again once the takeover is complete. Somebody should take Skelos on a Green Bus ride and let him see what he has done by vetoing the money.

...It was incredulous when a Manhattan jury ruled that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the owners of the World Trade Center, were more culpable in the 1993 bombing of the facility than the terrorists who set the bombs in place. Looking at the fact that the agency had been warned that somebody might plant a bomb in the basement garage, the jury ruled that the PA was 68 percent at fault for the deaths of six people and the terrorists who planted the bomb were only 32 percent responsible. What’s up with that? The next thing you know, some cockamamie jury will decide that our politicians were responsible for the 3,000 deaths at the trade center in 2001 because they supported Israel and the poor terrorists were blameless because they had no choice.

...I had an enlightening discussion with Region Five Superintendent Kathleen Cashin for a story that I did in last week’s paper. Cashin admitted that there have been excesses in forcing cookie-cutter education and in enforcing strict bulletin board and portfolio rules. After a consultation session with UFT President Randi Weingarten, Cashin says that the district’s teachers work hard and need some relief. I hope that she provides that relief, because teachers in the district are on the verge of an insurrection, not because they don’t want to do their jobs or because they don’t want to be accountable, but because the restrictive rules being put on them by the region do not allow them to do the job they were trained to do and the job that many of them have been doing successfully for dozens of years.

...Connie Mack is the chairperson of the President’s tax-reform panel. The panel is going to recommend some unpopular moves, including getting rid of the deduction for home mortgage interest for homes that are worth more than $300,000. When asked by the New York Times whether he was worried that the planned cut could hurt the middle class and discourage middle class people from buying homes, Mack (who is the grandson of baseball great Connie Mack) said, “It depends on how you define middle class. I don’t think that there would be a large percentage of middle-income families that would have a $500,000 house. See that, according to the president’s crony, all of you homeowners in Belle Harbor, Rockaway Park and Neponsit are “high-income families.”

...I like Rosa Parks and her legacy for America, but the whole idea that she was simply a seamstress who was too tired to move to the back of the bus is stretching history. Parks was the secretary of the local NAACP chapter. She was a teacher at the local church and a civil rights activist. E.D. Nixon, the head of the local NAACP had been looking for just the right person to challenge the law that blacks had to sit in the back of the bus. In fact, two months earlier, another black woman, Mary Louise Smith, was arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus. Nixon decided against fighting her case because Smith’s family held some dark secrets. Parks was perfect, and she was sent onto the bus to get arrested. Of course, the rest is history. Just thought you’d like to know.

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