Letters, Week of Nov. 21, 2013

Nice job, but more voices

Re “Community confronts park air rights issue as Cuomo O.K.’s bill” (news article, Nov. 14):

The on-deadline insert was nice. But what is missing from the article are the voices of the smart people who live in Greenwich Village and Chelsea who spoke up with serious questions at the town hall — people who felt left out of any discussion before the stealth bill was introduced by Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried, and passed in a rush on the last day of the legislative session at 5 a.m. No public hearing was held prior to Glick and Gottfried’s action.

Both of them attended last Wednesday’s town hall on Hudson River Park air rights, with Glick bolting soon after the announcement was made that Governor Cuomo had signed the legislation into law at the end of that day. Gottfried tried to spin “community involvement,” but Greenwich St. resident Sandy Russo was having none of his spin.

Newly elected District Leader Arthur Schwartz had his nice face on (he has previously called for Glick’s resignation), and reminded people that with a new mayor and borough president there would be changes at the Hudson River Park Trust. But he was silent on the ramifications for the local area if the air rights auction does take place.
Jim Fouratt

Zoltar vs. 7-Eleven

To The Editor:
Re “Small shops already feeling the crunch from 7-Eleven” (news article, Nov. 14):

The guys at Gem Spa told me they’ve been hurting since a 7-Eleven opened across the street from them. I hope the ever-wise Zoltar brings more people into Gem Spa — they can never leave the ’hood!
Kimberly Kenney

Charter article too one-sided

To The Editor:
Re “Charter school is settling in at Washington Irving home” (news article, Nov. 14):

I am very disappointed in The Villager for running such a puff piece on the Success Academy Union Square charter school. There was and remains huge opposition to this charter school among parents in the community.

The Community Education Council, elected by parents, that represents the district voted overwhelmingly against Success Academy’s co-location in the Washington Irving Campus building. Yet not one of the members of the C.E.C. or any of the parent leaders who opposed this co-location and the practices of this charter were interviewed.

News articles have also pointed out the high student and teacher attrition rate at Success Academy charters, their high suspension rate, and the schools’ practice of pushing out struggling and special-needs students.

Also, as the Union Square charter expands enrollment, it will eat up classroom space needed to reduce class size in the building’s existing schools, or to provide adequate space for art, music or other necessary programs.

Moreover, there are factual errors about the finances of the Union Square and other co-located charters. The article quotes a Success Academy official saying that the charter school gets less public funding per student than public schools. Yet, a well-known study by the Independent Budget Office shows that co-located charters, such as those in the Success Academy chain, get more public funding per student, if the cost of the space and services they receive for free from the Department of Education are taken into account.

Not even counted in the I.B.O. estimate are the substantial capital expenditures made by D.O.E. to accommodate the preferences of Success Academy, including building separate cafeterias for their students, as occurred in the case of Union Square. A similar move at Success Academy Upper West required $2 million in city capital funds, since the charter law requires matching funds for every other school in the building. One wonders if another $2 million in taxpayer funds was spent in this instance, to create a separate cafeteria for the charter school in the Washington Irving building.

Finally, articles have also been published showing how, as of a couple of years ago, Success Academy charters had accumulated surpluses of more than $23.5 million. The charter operators now get a “management fee” similar to what for-profit charters receive, and Eva Moskowitz, the chain’s C.E.O., receives a salary far above that of the New York City schools chancellor. Surely, Success Academy could afford to pay rent and / or find its own space.

In short, this reporting reads as though it could have been written by the expensive P.R. firms on retainer from Success Academy charters. You owe your readers a more balanced account.
Leonie Haimson
Haimson is executive director, Class Size Matters

A sad and unforgettable time

To The Editor:
Re “What I was doing the day John F. Kennedy was shot” (talking point, by Carol Greitzer, Nov. 14):

I was 16 years old in high school. I was in the hall when a student was shouting, “Somebody shot President Kennedy!” I went to the office and saw all the adults crying. I asked them if it was true, and they said yes. Later they sent us all home from school.

I walked to the Catholic church to say a prayer for the president and our country. The church was full and we said prayers. It was so sad. For days there was absolutely nothing on TV or radio but the death and the funeral. I will never, ever forget it.
Diana Kelley



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