2008-04-11 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

NYC Public Higher Education: Bring It To The Rockaways
Commentary by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader

Dr. Geraldine Chapey Dr. Geraldine Chapey The New York State Legislature and the Governor are in the process of finalizing the details on the passing of the budget. Although this is always an onerous task, it is more difficult this year because of the change in the governor from Eliot

Spitzer to David Patterson.

Governor Patterson has a long record of supporting education. In his inaugural address he stressed that in New York State one can achieve if one is committed to working hard. According to the New York Times it is expected that the budget will increase school aid to more than $21 billion, but it would pass over $8 billion to the city to fund. As we are all aware, the uncertain fiscal times make the budget outlook for the city seem very uncertain. A considerable amount of the city's revenues come from Wall Street. The current economic forecasts would have a disastrous impact on these revenues sources. New York City gets 20 percent of its tax revenue from the financial district.

The city is responsible for funding the city's elementary, middle and high schools. It is also responsible for the City University of New York Community College (CUNY). Currently "CUNY with the senior colleges included is the largest urban university in the United States consisting of 11 senior colleges, 6 community colleges, a doctorate - granting graduate school, a journalism school, a law school and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. More than 450,000

degree credit, adult, continuing and professional education students are enrolled at campuses located in all five New York City boroughs." (according to Wikipedia)

Education is a lynch pin in New York's ability to compete in a global society. We are in a knowledge- driven world wide market. If New York is to remain in the forefront, it will need to invest in its most precious asset - human capital. It will need to expand its higher education opportunities.

In 2007 Governor Spitzer made higher education a top priority by creating a Commission on Higher Education. The Commission recommended a "thoughtful and ambitious array of long term investments and reforms to enhance research, teaching access, workforce development and operational flexibility." The Commission noted that in order to achieve this one will need a strong "commitment and ingenuity" from all the partners - the Executive, the Legislative and the higher education institutions.

In light of the downturn in the current economy many people will be looking to CUNY to help them re-tool their skills so that they can remain competitive in their field or so that they can acquire new skills which will allow them to move into a new field.

One very smart investment for CUNY would be to open a new branch in the old Court House in Rockaway. Borough President Helen Marshall has allocated the money to provide capital funds to restore the building. My mother and I are working with Helen Marshall to pursue this vital project. We have personally lobbied with Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. He was a former Rockaway resident. We pointed out that the old Court House is in a perfect location. It is centrally located in the middle of the peninsula. Since it is next to the Cross Bay Bridge, it will attract students from the mainland. We also lobbied with Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson. We informed him that no CUNY school is really accessible to the Rockaway residents. Putting CUNY in the Court House will be a Win-Win situation.

It will bring jobs to the Rockaways. It will assist in improving the skills of our current residents. It will attract new people to our area who may want to buy a house or a condo, since the children and their parents will have local access to a college education.

Education is a priority in these uncertain fiscal times. It is time to make higher education more accessible to Rockaway residents. Write to CUNY, Chancellor Matthew Goldstein at 535 East 80 Street, New York, New York 10075-0711, and tell him of your support for the CUNY branch in Rockaway. Tell him that Borough President Helen Marshall, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and Senator Malcolm Smith all support this.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to join Chapey's Trinity Services on Friday, May 30 for their 6th annual fundraising luncheon at Russo's on the Bay, 162-45 Crossbay Boulevard, Howard Beach, at 12 Noon.

The purpose of the fundraiser is to raise money for the van transportation program. Tickets are $75.00 each. (The senior price is $55.00.) Please call Geraldine Chapey or Stella at 1-718- 474-1641 to purchase your tickets. Tables of 14 are available. Join us for a fun filled afternoon while helping us to raise funds for this worthy cause.

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