In response to a column written by Bob Friedrich in TimesLedger Newspapers Oct. 4-10: “There may be light at the end of the tunnel for the nightmare faced by families zoned for Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village. MVB evokes wonderful memories for its alumni, but while its former reputation as a community school with high graduation rates is well-known, it has since fallen on hard times and by any objective measure of success is a failed school.”
In response to Friedrich’s one-sided rant, the question arises as to who made this tunnel that Friedrich first sees a light? In fact, the Obama administration, which I favor, made a 20 percent reduction in funding toward career and technical education and an 11 percent increase in education funding. One size does not fit all.
Vocational programs are an essential part of reaching those students who are at risk of being left behind. Those students who find high school too difficult often end up taking low-skill, minimum-wage jobs with a dismal and unfulfilled future. During difficult economic times, these jobs are the first to be cut because they are considered non-essential. The mayor and governor did not increase funding for these programs for our students or any others. They decreased the budget so much that buying pencils, enough to supply the schools, was a major feat.
And please let us not forget the directive from the Bloomberg administration to have “consultants” come into the schools and help improve the teaching methods of teachers.
One such consultant is gone, we cannot find her and, not only did she not help, but she hurt our school with a lower overall grade because she knew nothing about our students and their needs. Her advice was to be followed to the letter, as per the Bloomberg administration and city schools chancellor, in transforming our school and giving us the programs we needed for our students.
Where were you when this administration pushed in low-achieving, at-risk students to our school with no regard for programs inside our school or after-school? Granted, our students come from across the city, but did you contact the mayor and city Department of Education then when we were overcrowded, understaffed and under-budgeted?
I do not remember hearing anything from you when English as a Second Language and learning disabled students were forced to take Regents exams and pass them or not be able to graduate even though they passed their classes. Again, one size does not fit all.
As Chaz, on the blog “Chaz’s School Daze,” wrote Jan. 30, 2010, “The Bloomberg/Klein strategy of closing down the large public high as the PEP approved closing down a record 19 schools in one week, despite thousands of parents, students and teachers who protested and spoke against their closings.”
The destructive policies of the DOE have led to the downfall of the once-renowned Jamaica, Richmond Hill, John Adams, etc., high schools. Where were you when we were protesting and fighting with the help of the United Federation of Teachers to keep these schools open? Now you want to give the OK to do this to Martin Van Buren HS?
You mention Bobby Sher, president of the Bell Park Manor Co-ops, had to install 100 cameras to protect its residents from fights, trespassing and vandalism. All worthwhile co-op facilities have cameras for such reasons, especially in the garage area of the property. Not to mention Bell Park Manor is on a major highway where anyone can do damage and/or harm.
What makes you think the problem for this community is only and/or mainly our high school? You also mentioned at the SLT meeting held at Martin Van Buren HS the loss of property value in your community. I have a friend who purchased property 15 years ago in your community. The purchase was a one-bedroom co-op for $40,000. According to real estate notices for your community the property value for a one-bedroom co-op is $174,000.
You also failed to inform us that you had a forum that would permit publishing of your narrow views of information projected at the SLT meeting that you attended, and I do not want to leave out your condescending attitude toward Sam Sochet, the principal, and the administration, staff, teachers and UFT.
Sochet, principal of Martin Van Buren, has moved mountains, along with his administration, to partner with Queensborough Community College and Long Island Jewish Hospital to bring wonderful programs to our school, such as pre-med, pre-engineering, EMT and robotics and do not forget a $4 million grant to our school for the supplies, equipment and instructors making a pathway for our students to go to college and continue their education if they wish.
You say the vested interest of the UFT regarding our teachers and their jobs could bring adversity. Teachers are not the villains. Teachers give their all to help children succeed. How many teachers in your development know of your casual and disdain attitude toward teachers and their jobs? Do you not understand that to have families, mortgages, expenses and a life they must have a job?
Our school deserves to have the P-Tech program without a co-location. We are able to do this program by ourselves without another school coming in and stealing our facilities.
By the way, the students would be the same students you and Sher object to. According to the DOE, there will be no restriction on the students entering the P-Teach program. The only restriction, probably, will be space.
You owe the administration, teachers, staff, parents and students an apology for your near-sighted and uninformed articles. I am certain the voters in state Assemblyman David Weprin’s (D-Little Neck) district knew what they were doing when they re-elected him. He is a person for all the people, not just a few.