Commentary From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B
Has the weather gotten you down? I personally hate snow. It's days like this I miss my old Cadillac. The Toyota Camry is a nice car, but you constantly get stuck on the ice and snow. Toyota needs to come up with a 4 wheel drive. It would be a beautiful car.
I do want to thank the sanitation workers in Rockaway for responding when we called about numerous unsafe conditions including Neponsit and Cronston Avenues. According to the Department of Sanitation, the problem was with the freezing rain that made it difficult to get a fast solution to keeping the streets and curbsides clear.
This is the season that you will see me out and about Rockaway Park Waldbaum's asking for a $1.00 donation for the Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. This gets your name on a moon or stars to be hung up in Waldbaum's. All money raised goes for research to help find a cure for cancer.
Thank you to Waldbaum's management for allowing me to continue to have my corner for good causes. Anyone interested in volunteering to sell daffodils in our local banks during the day to raise money for cancer research should contact my office at (718) 945-1216. Any business wishing to participate by selling Cancer Society items should contact me immediately.
The NYC Department of Education is attempting to change the face of education again. They call the new program "Children First". They repeat familiar comments. "This is all about student achievement." "Test scores were stagnant." They claim progress since 2002. "Increased the graduation rate to the highest level in 20-plus years." "Increased teacher pay by 43% and gave principals more power to build their teams."
The heart of their plan is to dismantle the regional offices they established only a few years ago. Each school will have a choice of where to seek outside help. They can choose experienced Department of Education officials who will be working on a citywide basis or they can choose non-profit or profit making businesses that will sell their advice and products to schools. The plan does not say that the parents or the community will have a voice in this important decision.
The DOE seems to be preparing to make it more difficult for teachers to get job protection (tenure). Will older, experienced teachers be forced out so that the DOE can hire new graduates at lower wages? The report cards will get a new format. Bonuses will be given to "A" schools with high quality scores. "D" and "F" schools will face possible leadership changes or will be closed. Funding will be given to schools based on the number of students. Additional funds would follow each student who has special needs like poverty, English language learning, low academic achievement or special education. If you are interested in getting more information on the DOE plan you can visit schools.nyc.gov/offices/childrenfirst . The bureaucrats making these plans can be reached at ChildrenFirst@schools.nyc.gov.
Many parents have come up with the question of how a school could come up with a decision of which program to choose in March or April while they are still waiting for the test scores.
At a recent Community Education council 27 meeting Region 5 Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Cashin briefed us on the LSO (Learning Support Organizations) and what she plans on doing as one of the new four LSO in NYC. She spoke of core knowledge in Social Studies and Science along with reading and math. With the push in music and arts, children would learn to play an instrument and read music and be able to identify art and famous artists. Cashin has introduced these plans in Region 5. The LSO will provide content and help teachers to implement the curriculum.
As a young child in the public schools in Rockaway, I remember having a music teacher coming to our class once a week where we learned to play the recorder while other children chose to learn to play an instrument or sing in the glee club. We had a great science teacher who came in with hands on science experiments in chemistry, physics, earth science and biology. Many of these subjects have been put on the back burner.
Many children today have not learned what the jobs of our mayor, governor or senators include. They do not know the capitals of states or how to locate a country on the globe. Teachers are stressed with teaching for the ELA and other tests and have no time to teach other subjects.
Children are now held accountable for poor test scores. Many children are not good test takers and some freeze from fear. Many parents question why the emphasis is more on one test than on the year's work and the child's portfolio.
For years parents have been asked to attend Open School Night and Parents Association meetings. What occurs in most schools is lack of parent involvement. The parents of the children who don't need extra help show up while those who you really need to speak to do not show. Single parents and those who cannot get time off from work do not come in. Others just make up an excuse. In my life I found that the reward system helped me to achieve good grades. Parents and other family members should show an interest in the children's school progress.
On Saturday March 3 the 32nd annual Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade will kickoff at 1 p.m. at Beach 129 Street and Newport Avenue, going to Beach 116 Street, then down Beach 116 Street to Rockaway Beach Boulevard to Beach 94 Street at the First Congregational Church for an awards ceremony. This year the Grand Marshal will be Kevin Kelly, Business Agent for local 46 Metallic Lathers Union. He is a fine gentleman, union leader and wonderful father.
The Honorary Grand marshal will be Edward F. Ford. President of Local 30, International Union of Operating Engineers. Gael of the Year is none other than our great congressman and Queens County Democratic Leader Joe Crowley who has roots in the Rockaways. Deputy Grand Marshals will be the Senate Democratic Leader, our great Senator Malcolm Smith, and our great Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer.
Other Deputy grand Marshals are Kelly Feeney, manager of the Queens County Savings Bank, John Kimball, President of Kimball Construction, Martin Feeney, Broad channel Athletic club, Joseph McGoorty, of the local Sanitation Department who is a great friend and hard worker for the Rockaways, Ellen Peppard, our Parade Committee attorney, Warren Scullin, active in the AOH, and Mathew Gorton, Queens Director of the Mayor's Community Assistance Unit.
As a proud Board Member of the Parade committee under the leadership of President Michael Benn and
Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer has announced that she is proud to report that the Assembly has passed legislation that she introduced to increase the maximum fine or civil penalty from $100 to $250 for failure of a dog owner to remove their animals waste from public areas. The bill was introduced at the request of the City of New York.
"Removal of canine waste is a serious problem in larger cities. It is inconsiderate and unhealthy to leave canine waste on the sidewalk, street or other public areas. Currently, failure to clean up dog feces carries a fine of $50 to $100. However, many times violators repeatedly fail to comply with the law. The purpose of this bill is to discourage repeat offenders by increasing the maximum penalty. This will act as a deterrent and encourage owners to clean up after their dogs," said Pheffer.
The legislation has passed the Assembly and Assemblywoman Pheffer is confident that the Senate will introduce the bill as well and help in making this legislation law.