FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM APRIL 11, 2019 • THE QUEENS COURIER 31
letters & comments
NYC can’t leave
BY TOBY ANN STAVISKY
I note with dismay the recent report on the
lack of diversity in the incoming classes at the
Specialized High Schools.
Approximately fi ve years ago, I made several
suggestions to the Mayor’s offi ce and the
Department of Education (DOE) on how to
improve diversity. Th e DOE has done little to
remedy the imbalance except for their ill-advised
proposal to eliminate the exam.
Specifi cally, I recommended that gift ed and
talented programs be off ered in all communities.
Children must be identifi ed as early as the
third grade. Currently, parents can “opt-in” to
have their child tested. I introduced legislation
so each child would be tested unless the parent
“opts-out.” With these programs in all neighborhoods
and identifying children earlier, they
will be exposed to accelerated and enriched
I also suggested off ering free test preparation
and a pre-SHSAT practice exam in the sixth
grade, prior to their entrance to middle school.
Th e DREAM program is available during aft er
school hours and on weekends. It helps prepare
seventh grade students to take the SHSAT exam
in the eighth grade.
Currently, the DREAM program has a waiting
list and is available only in a limited number
of school districts. Th is program must be
Th e Discovery Program claims to improve
diversity by off ering admission to the Specialized
High Schools to borderline students but these
programs have had little eff ect. Many families
are unaware they exist because the City has not
conducted eff ective outreach. DOE personnel
must actively work with all schools to let them
know about all programs and opportunities.
Although African Americans and Latinos
make up 70% of the public school population,
they only make-up 44% of those taking the
exam. Th e low numbers of minority students
who take the SHSAT demonstrate that DOE
outreach is inadequate. Lastly, more Specialized
High Schools should be created. Th ere is no reason
for such a limited number of schools.
Th ere are currently 439 high schools. Th e
focus should include improving the other 430
high schools. We should ask the DOE what they
are doing to make these 430 schools better. We
should ask what they are doing to help the 124
Eighty-four of these schools, in the lowest
category, are in greatest need. Th ey are plagued
with lack of profi ciency on standardized tests,
and other measures used to determine growth
and improvement. We should focus on how to
help these schools.
All children can learn and thrive. We need
to identify them, encourage and nurture them.
Most importantly, we should not let the DOE distract
and divide us, pit one group against another.
We should all work together. We are united in our
mission – better schools for everyone.
State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky chairs the
Senate Higher Education Committee. She’s also
a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science,
the mother of a Bronx High School of Science
graduate and a former teacher at Brooklyn Tech.
IN PRAISE OF A
FASTER 7 LINE
Until a couple of months ago, most of
us straphangers on the 7 line, including
this writer, couldn’t help moaning and
groaning about the everyday delays and
pauses due to signal malfunctions and
other technical problems in the tracks.
And this being our only aff ordable
means of commuting between Flushing
and Midtown Manhattan, we felt rightful
to condemn and even curse the offi -
cials in charge for not doing anything
to fi x the plagued system.
But since the middle of January, relief
seemed to have come down from heaven,
and to be fair, ti came not from
heaven but from those offi cials we
thought weren’t giving a damn about
Th e trains are now leaving their
terminals with minimal delays, and
speeding down their tracks in record
short times for the trips.
In all fairness, we owe gratitude to
the responsible parties, of whom at
least one we are familiar with, Mr.
Kuresh Dilmanian, Great Neck
LOST TREES BY
I recently was on a bus that was taking
me to Queens Borough Hall. I was
totally shocked as the bus passed by
the Kew Gardens Interchange to see
that almost all of the trees along the
highways at that location had been cut
down. It looked like a bomb had hit
Many of the trees that were cut for
this project were huge mature trees that
had been there for decades. Th e state
DOT reportedly promised to replant
once their project is completed.
Th e agency does not seem to realize
that mature trees are capable of cleaning
the air much more eff ectively than
smaller trees. Smaller trees will take
decades before they can do the job that
a mature tree can do.
Th e canopy formed by mature trees is
priceless to our city and its inhabitants
and should be cherished for the wonderful
job that can be accomplished
in cleaning our air. During the summer
months, trees help keep us cool
and assist in cutting down on air conditioning
All too oft en, trees are destroyed
because they are treated as obstacles and
hindrances. Healthy specimens are frequently
removed in all neighborhoods
for a variety of reasons, usually because
they are a “bother” or “in the way”.
I feel very sorry for the residents in
the immediate area of the Kew Gardens
interchange. Th ey will be breathing in
less clean air for decades. Th ey will be
experiencing increased noise levels day
and night because the buff er that the
trees had provided is no longer there.
Who knows what eff ect this will have
on the health of these people?
Henry Euler, Bayside
AN APPEAL TO HELP
Th ere are many homeless veterans on
Long Island and in the city. As reported,
there are a number of reasons for
homelessness of our veterans who have
fought and served our country with
honor and dedication to duty.
Th ese reasons some are living on the
streets is because of extreme shortage
of aff ordable housing, lack of family,
livable income, suff ering from Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder, substance
abuse and depression. I feel more needs
to be done, although there are programs
out there helping veterans.
I, for one can feel their pain. I had
served in the U.S Navy during the
Vietnam era and upon release from my
military service in 1975, I found myself
homeless and panhandling in the town
of Hempstead where I once lived and
asking for spare change for food.
Due to the kindness of a stranger
named Cyril, who had emigrated from
Nigeria and off ered me a room, I had
a chance to get back on my feet. Th ere
are many veterans today who are not
Our government needs to do more
nationally and locally. Th ese veterans
have served the greater good preserving
the freedoms we all enjoy today
and deserve help for all they have done
May God bless our veterans who
have given so much.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.,
Glen Oaks Village
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