2010-11-12 / Columnists

Simon says...

Commentary From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic Dis trict Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

As we write this column the breaking news is that Chancellor Joel Klein has resigned and is being replaced by Cathie Black, an executive at Hearst Publishing. She is another non-educator without teaching experience. It is another blow to education in New York City. What should we expect now? We went from local district offices to regional offices and then to LSO’s and then part of the way back to local district offices. From local school boards elected by some of the people, we went to a handpicked board selected by the mayor and borough presidents and serving at the pleasure of the mayor. Locally chosen (not elected) boards called Community Education Councils are almost powerless.

New York City parents and children get the short end of the stick. Many children were left off bus service and are still fighting to get back on. Kindergarten students were offered Metrocards instead of buses. With the recent announcement that they are closing many schools in NYC, my alma mater, Beach Channel High School, is again on the chopping block. Parents are told that they will have a voice in this process. If it is anything like last year it will be a waste of time.

Here we go again. Joel Klein and his gang of thieves tried to destroy BCHS. They ended the programs that were admired around the city and attracted applicants from other areas. Oceanography, marine biology, auto mechanics, TV production and moot court were eliminated. Resources were taken out and when Far Rockaway High School was closed the students who were not accepted elsewhere were assigned to BCHS. Programs for difficult students from other communities were dumped in BCHS. 10 percent of BCHS students were English Language Learners.

BCHS needs to reopen their outstanding programs and serve as the zoned school for our community. Other students should be admitted after passing an entrance exam. Programs must be provided for the many students who want a vocational program like carpentry, plumbing, nursing and auto mechanics. The Education Department has called a meeting on closing BCHS on Monday at 7 p.m. in the BCHS auditorium. This will affect future generations in our community. Urge all alumni, friends, neighbors and concerned citizens to come with you to the meeting. Juan Mendez, the new Queens High School Superintendent is expected to speak. The faculty, led by their Chapter Chair, David Pecorora, has been fighting the closure for over a year. Please come to the meeting on Monday and give your support. A question and answer period is scheduled because it is required.

Thank God that we have come to the end of another election year. We are proud of our local and statewide Democratic ticket. At this time we still hope the State Senate will remain Democratic. Once again we are using our First Amendment rights to speak up and yell at Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, and his First Deputy, Liam Kavanagh. They don’t give a damn about Rockaway and know very little about beaches. We are on record as requesting that lifeguards should be on duty until 8 p.m. on hot summer nights. People would like to cool off after work. We live here because we want to enjoy our beaches.

We have requested the lifelines (ropes) and barrels formerly used on Rockaway beaches. We got the assistance of former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, but she was ignored as well. Pick up your phone so that your voice can be heard. These ropes told swimmers when they were too close to the jetties and gave them a place to rest if necessary. Call 311 or Commissioner Benepe at 212-360-1305 and Deputy Commissioner Kavanagh at 212-360- 1307 to let them know what this community needs.

On Monday evening I was invited to tour LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City by one of the board members. I saw a wonderful pool with a large timing clock. This would be a wonderful location for lifeguard training and testing. We wish the city would look into using this location and give young Rockaway swimmers a chance at a useful summer job. There must be no more bs when our kids go for a job. Open up the jobs for experienced parttimers.

We have many firefighters, police officers and teachers who would like to work on hot summer weekends. It is true that we get what we deserve in this community. Speak up now before it is too late for this summer.

Dues for the Good Government Regular Democratic Club are $25 a year. Send your dues to 112-20 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park NY 11694. Make sure that you have a voice in our community. We are in the process of putting together our December Atlantic City bus trip. If you are interested call my office at 718-945-1216.

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