2007-01-19 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Several Rockaway schools were on the list of schools that the state is keeping any eye on because of sub-par performance. On the list of those schools closed because they could literally not make the grade are Middle School 198, which has now become the Goldie Maple Academy and Middle School 180, which has now become the Scholar's Academy. On the list of failing schools are Beach Channel High School, Far Rockaway High School, Middle School 53, PS 42, PS 197 and PS 225. Most of our elementary schools on the list are undergoing restructuring. Despite the mayor's claims that his control of the school system has brought utopia to the city's schools, 12 more city schools went on the failure list this year. We are sure, however, that Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein will come up with a way to explain away the drop as a positive happening.

CB 14's Land Use Committee will discuss the residential rezoning of Beach 108 to Beach 129 Streets at a meeting to be held at PS 225, 190 Beach 110 Street, at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 24. Councilman Addabbo's consultant will present his findings at this important meeting.

Breezy Point resident Patrick Dowdell has become something of a local icon and a darling of the news media. In May, at the school's graduation, President George Bush mentioned Dowdell by name and the fact that his dad, FDNY Lieutenant Kevin Dowdell, died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center more than five years ago. At the time, his dad was helping Patrick ready his application for West Point. This week, Second Lieutenant Dowdell reported to Fort Hood, Texas, where he joined his new outfit, the Fourth Infantry Division. While his division is reportedly not due to return to Iraq anytime soon, you can bet that he will find his way into the action in time. We wish him the best of luck in his new position and a "safe home."

Nearly three-quarters of the city students entitled to free tutoring under federal law have blown off the program, DOE officials said recently. Of the 184,790 students who attend "failing schools" and are entitled to the tutoring, only 50,524 - 27.3 percent have shown up. When we tried to check on the statistics for District 27's schools, we were not-so- politely told that no breakdown of districts exists and that the number are not tracked in that way. It was another case of the DOE's policy of "don't call us, we'll call you."

Marina Re sent us an Email to say, "The Ed Re referred to [in your advertisement in last week's Wave] is Eddie Re Jr., not our father, Chief Judge Emeritus of the Court of International Trade. The distinguished Edward D. Re Sr., my dad, was an honorary member of the Neponsit Property Owners Association, an organization that put in a lovely tribute to my dad in the paper when my father sadly passed away last September. The Re family is very grateful to them for remembering our dad."

Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse. Christopher Cerf is the former president and chief operating officer of the Edison Schools, a charter school outfit that has had mixed results at best. He has denigrated the New York City Public Schools, urging that more children be allowed to attend charter schools to get away from the "failing" city schools. Now, he is the DOE's new Deputy Chancellor for Organizational Strategy at a yearly salary of $196,574. He will oversee labor relations, principal and teacher recruitment and communication with the media and with elected officials. That move is something akin to placing the Reverend Al in charge of hiring police officers.

Corey Kilgannon, who covers Rockaway for the New York Times, did a half-page story about the juxtaposition of the "luxury" homes of Arverne By The Sea and the Hammel Houses city housing complex. The story talked about the gunplay that comes from Hammels and the recent murders in Rockaway. In that article, he says, "The shootings, which receive meager attention in the news media, have not affected the brisk sales of the units [in ABTS]." If Kilgannon thinks that the shootings got meager attention in The Wave, he hasn't been paying attention. In fact, some people in Rockaway have been complaining that we have been giving it too much attention for the community's good. Depending on how you look at it, the Sean Bell story either focused the gunplay story on that incident or was so compelling that it wiped out all the Rockaway gunplay coverage. The latter is probably true. By the way, if you didn't read the coverage in the daily papers closely, you would never have known that Bell lived in Rockaway.

Speaking of schools, how much does a teacher have to take before he or she is allowed to react. A Manhattan teacher was arrested last week after he allegedly pushed a student away from him, causing the student to fall into a stairwell. The teacher was trying to break up a fight between the student and another when the student spit in his face. He pushed the student away, causing an injury. The student winds up a hero with his peers and the city will probably give him and his family a million dollars in damages. The teacher goes to the rubber room and will probably remain there until retirement.

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