WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES NOVEMBER 3, 2016 13 LETTERS AND COMMENTS DIVERSITY TRUMPS IGNORANCE IN QUEENS It is ironic that with hard-won inclusiveness of the American dream Queens County has trumped Donald Trump in making the dream come true for a participatory sharing. Compassion and justice are the keynote to the creation of a community in which each individual can realize himself or herself not by brashly talking loudly but by the quiet voice of community. Donald Trump, will you listen? The miracle of Queens is contained in the harmonious life of its residents who have come here from the four corners of the Earth. They live a peaceful life here, in spirited celebration of their harmonious existence with their fellow travelers to this country. Most of these arrivals are the fi rst or second generation of their families to this country. They share a common experience of life being expanded by the old world values that underlie the reason for their exodus and the enhancement of their entry. Together they represent a new America premised upon respect for the freedom of their individual lives at the same time as they are living as members of groups from all parts of the world who benefi t from the American Dream. This dream provides the recognition of the success of our country in uniting the whole world within its borders and must serve as a guidepost to the world. It is the American vision that the entire world must pursue to create a state of being which provides to each individual respect for all other individuals. Sigmund R. Balka, Forest Hills TIME TO REFORM HOUSING COURT The City Council is weighing legislation that would pay lawyers to represent indigent men, women and children threatened with eviction in housing court. It’s about time. But the major fl aw with housing court is that it exists; it is a forum where society treats hapless tenants like criminals, and that won’t change if the Council’s bill becomes law. Rent disputes should be removed altogether from the court system. However, the problems confronting individuals trapped in housing court surpass their judicial travails. As matters now stand, housing court is just one shameful element in a grotesque and devious phenomenon that I call Welfare World. I don’t have the space to discuss in detail my own experiences in Welfare World. Taxpayer money and charitable donations are being squandered on the current system; what is desperately needed is a new approach to those facing eviction and poverty. Howard Schneider, Rego Park CITY SHOULD FOCUS ON THE REAL PROBLEMS Recently several members of our elected City Council proposed legislation that would ban the use of “wild and exotic animals” for shows (circuses, etc). In addition several members proposed to change the name of several NYCHA Facilities which were named aft er our founding fathers (Washington, Jeff erson, Hamilton, etc) since they were slave owners. Meanwhile the Administration for Children Services (ACS) often fails to protect innocent, defenseless children, sometimes the consequences are tragic, injury or worse ( death). In addition, the City has a homeless population of at least 60,000 according to published reports. The policies proposed by the de Blasio administration are being protested by middle class, hardworking homeowners in neighborhoods throughout the city including in Queens. When will these elected offi cials stop with their feel good activism and start addressing the real problems which exists? Thomas Murawski, Glendale OP-ED Our Schools, Our Voices BY PUBLIC ADVOCATE LETITIA JAMES As parents, we should have a say STROLLING DOWN SENECA AVENUE Despite periods of wind and rain, Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, in partnership with NYC Dept of Transportation, recently held its Third Annual Ridgewood Seneca/ Catalpa Avenue Stroll last Saturday afternoon. The three-block stroll celebrated Ridgewood’s unique local small businesses and community based organizations and the diversity of the Ridgewood, Queens area. As shown, John Weber provided music for a lively performance by the Bavarian Dancers Enzian Group. For more information about other events in the Myrtle Avenue BID go to the website: www.ridgewood-ny.com. in every aspect of our child’s life, especially the ones that will be most consequential. But far too oft en, I’ve found parents to be shut out of the decision-making process in their child’s school. For example, meetings in our city’s public schools where important policy and budget decisions are made have been strictly closed to the public, including parents. But there’s good news: thanks to a lawsuit I worked on along with courageous education advocates, parents will once again be welcomed to share input on how our schools are run. Every New York City public school is required to have a School Leadership Team (SLT), which includes the principal, parent association president, teachers union representative, and an elected parent and staff member. The point of an SLT is to create roadmaps for the school’s annual goals, which are required to be refl ected in the school budget. The teams are also consulted for new hires and new policies. Since the establishment of mayoral control in 2002, SLT meetings have been closed to the public, robbing parents and community members of an opportunity to engage with school governance, denying them a voice in decisions that directly impact their children. Behind closed doors, SLTs decide the future of our schools. They decide where the school’s budget will be spent. They decide where to allocate that money, whether it be to books, computers or class trips. They decide how our classroom spaces will be improved and how suspensions policies will be changed, and even discuss the potential for co-locations and school closings. Parents and teachers have a right to participate in this process, so when a former teacher was barred from attending an SLT meeting at his former school, I went to the Department of Education (DOE) to advocate for his right to attend. But instead of working together, the DOE pushed back against increased transparency and instead engaged in a lengthy legal battle. Just last week, the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled unanimously in favor of our lawsuit against the administration, concluding that the DOE must make School Leadership Team meetings open to the public. Our schools should be like parks with open fi elds and boundless room for ideas and knowledge, not dark dungeons with concrete walls that keep people out. By not allowing community members to participate, DOE created a veiled practice that cast a shadow of secrecy and opaqueness. Our success in opening up the SLT process is not only a victory for parents, students and educators, but for all New Yorkers who believe in a transparent and accountable government. As public advocate for the City of New York, Letitia James is the second highest ranking offi cial in the city and serves as a watchdog over city agencies, and investigates complaints about city services.
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