(Editor’s note: This letter references the editorial column by Robert McMillan, titled “Undocumented Aliens vs. Illegal Aliens” that appeared in the Friday, Feb. 18 edition of the Levittown Tribune.)
Illegal aliens. Undocumented workers. At face value these two terms seem the same. Nevertheless, the Society of Professional Journalists - as reported in these pages by Robert McMillan in his February 18th column - has entreated its membership to jettison the former. It knows, and I agree, that the words we used to describe people and their actions and character affect our perception of them. Monikers have connotations, meanings, and stigmas. But shouldn’t they? Isn‘t that the whole purpose of the written language? Isn’t that what distinguishes language from communication?
We are writing in response to your Feb. 16 letter to fellow New Yorkers on education reform. We agree that New Yorkers elected you to be their voice in Albany and to make tough decisions; it is also true that New Yorkers elected 5,000 school board members around the state to be the voice of their school districts.
Few issues are as critical to the future of our state as fundamentally reforming our education system. We are prepared to work closely with you to make the necessary changes so schools can provide a high quality education at the lowest possible cost.
Your letter suggested four ways in which school districts can absorb your proposed state aid reductions without laying off teachers, cutting programs or harming students. The following is NYSSBA’s Four-Point Plan to help us achieve those goals:
(Editor’s note: This letter was sent to U.S. Congressman Peter King and to Anton Newspapers. Eighty people in the religious community on Long Island signed the letter; we are printing the names of those in the areas our newspapers cover.)
Dear Representative Peter King,
As religious leaders and people of faith across Long Island, we stand together to express our profound concern about the Congressional hearings you have proposed to investigate the Muslim-American community. We fear this effort will only further divide our community and undermine our nation’s highest ideals. We urge you to cancel these hearings.
Protecting our nation requires allegiance to the fundamental values that give life to our democracy. A commitment to pluralism and respect for diversity are strengths in the fight against terrorism. We agree that law enforcement must find practical solutions to stop terrorism, whether these threats come from religious or non-religious extremists. Muslim-Americans have consistently denounced terrorism and worked closely with law enforcement to prevent violence. Building and maintaining trust with the Muslim community is crucial to furthering this cooperation, and we fear your hearings will only sow greater distrust and division at a time when unity and moral courage are needed.
The Levittown Historical Museum is a wonderful place to learn the storied history of Levittown, including the area known as “Island Trees.” I highly recommend taking time to either stop by the museum located on Abbey Lane or browsing their website at http://www.levittownhistoricalsociety.org/index.html. There is so much to be proud of in Levittown and the Historical Museum is another hidden gem tucked away in our community.
If you’re a Levittown history buff and want to see even more pictures or documents, our district office in the Stephen E. Karopczyc School on Farmedge Road has many old photographs and artifacts lining the hallway, as well as a detailed timeline of the history of the school district beginning in 1902. Often I’ll stop to examine the historic black and white photos and wonder what life was like for those Island Trees children.
A few weeks ago I attended an Island Trees Library Board meeting. Clearly, sitting in the audience observing the meeting dynamics was a new experience for me. It’s a lot easier watching the interaction between the Library Board and public than being directly involved. At the meeting, there was a motion and vote that supported an earlier library closing time on Friday evening. Apparently several years ago, the Island Trees library extended their hours from 7 to 9 p.m. Unfortunately, due to concerns about budgeting, funding and taxpayer affordability, the library will revert back to the 7 p.m. closing time on Friday night. Admittedly, this was a very tough decision for all involved in the decision-making. Naturally, many people in the audience were upset by the decision; however, understandably in these difficult times, difficult decisions will be made.
The reality is that I learned a lot about our community library. After the meeting, I went to the Island Trees Library website http://www.islandtreespubliclibrary.org/index.php to look at the programs offered to our children. I wanted to see how the change in closing time would truly impact the programs and services offered to the community. Well, I knew the library had many wonderful programs for children and adults. In short, it is unbelievable! The Island Trees library has so many outstanding programs running on a regular basis for the children of Island Trees. It is quite impressive. There is so much more for children than what we all experienced years ago.
On this really cold, snow packed, ice-tinged day I just happened to open up an article online from an ABC News website, dated Feb. 2, about Governor Cuomo’s efforts to rein in school superintendent salaries. I didn’t think much of it until I continued to scroll down wondering how we ranked in the statewide list. Well, that certainly warmed me up...actually it caused me to boil! This is just a very general overview of the listing and I’ve included some of our comp areas as well as some North Shore schools for comparison.
Superintendent salaries: Massapequa $247K, +58K, +20.5K; Wantagh $218K, +45.8K, +4K; Levittown $383.5K, +60K, + 5.6K; Merrick $285K, +25K +3K; E. Meadow $205K, +52.9, +6K; Syosset $386.8K, +67K, +5K; Jericho $281K + 60K, +60K. The first figure is salary; second figure is usually health, life, auto, etc. insurances and many other freebies; 3rd figure is “miscellaneous.”
A few weeks ago I stopped by my sister’s house and saw my niece trying to complete her homework assignments in their family room. Caitlin was wearing her IPod and swaying back and forth listening to her favorite tunes while writing down some thoughts in a notebook. Funny enough, my nephew was playing videogames directly across from her. This is why I said, “trying.” My sister grumbled about how she despises homework and how she often needs to torment her daughter to complete her assignments. Surprisingly, my Ivy League educated sister carried over very few, if any, of the simple lessons from our own childhood into her household. In truth, my mother was able to have four children sit around the table of our small eat-in kitchen in Massapequa Park with little fanfare.
Twice in Levittown’s history, we have been at the epicenter, albeit indirectly in the first instance, in a constitutional issue brought before the U.S. Supreme Court: the 1949 Shelly vs. Kramer case, and the 1976 Pico vs. Island Trees Board of Education case. The Constitution has been on everyone’s mind these days.
I’m glad that people nowadays - especially members of Congress on the floor of the Capitol - are actually reading the Constitution. It’s unfortunate that it takes such doctrinal faction to stimulate what should be an act of anyone interested in history, literature, and political philosophy. I find it especially interesting even though I think the American continent would have been better governed under the Articles of Confederation and even though I consider monarchy and aristocracy superior to republics and democracies; more conducive to sustaining the cultural and intellectual values and institutions of civilized society.
In September, Island Trees restructured our elementary schools from the traditional K-4 schools to the “Princeton Plan” model, K-1 at Sparke Elementary School and grades 2-4 at Stokes Elementary School. With the new plan, the elementary schools were reorganized by grade levels, not by geographic local. At the time, we calculated a $450,000 savings from the long-established K-4 model. Clearly, this cost-saving measure was welcomed in the challenging economic climate we face in New York.
From the start, the district understood we were entering uncharted waters. During the summer, we had many concerns about moving classrooms, materials and supplies from one to school to the other. After all, we needed to move some grade levels from Sparke to Stokes and others from Stokes to Sparke. In fact, the Princeton Plan caused almost every elementary classroom to be moved in some manner. This enormous physical task and tremendous undertaking was completed before the start of school in September. Kudos to all involved! Additionally, there were the non-physical changes that we had to overcome. Although the cosmetic alterations were formidable, the emotional task of changing schools for students, staff, and parents was equally challenging. It’s not easy to change almost 60 years of tradition overnight without having a few bumps in the road or tears in the eyes for that matter.
A few hours before the town board meeting on Jan. 11 Hope For Hempstead Shelter (HHS) was notified that public comment would not be allowed due to weather. A short while after HHS arrived, the town released a statement saying that public comment would not be permitted due to a security risk.
Residents of the town came to speak publicly on behalf of animals that can’t speak for themselves and for taxpayer rights.
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