Assemblyman Braunstein talks specialized high schools and airplane noise ahead of elections

Photo by Jenna Bagcal/QNS

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Assemblyman Ed Braunstein will be up for re-election in District 26.

The eight-year incumbent will go up against his Republican challenger, David Bressler, the regional manager for a national bakery conglomerate. Since the beginning of his re-election campaign, the assemblyman has focused his message on what he has accomplished during his time in office and what he’s currently working on for his constituents in northeast Queens.

According to Braunstein, the past eight years in Albany have been productive and his constituents from areas including Bayside, Douglaston, Glen Oaks, Little Neck, North Shore Towers and Whitestone, have felt its effects.

He has passed eight on-time budgets, been part of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and has worked on making public college free for families who make $125,000 or less each year. But the assemblyman realizes that there is more to do in Albany, including getting more funding for education and fighting back against Mayor de Blasio’s plan to abolish the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT).

Recently, Braunstein secured nearly $2 million in funding for 25 area schools. The grant allowed District 26 public schools to purchase technology like computers, smart boards and security cameras to benefit their students.

In June, Braunstein said that he was “one of the first lawmakers” to oppose getting rid of the SHSAT, a test which the assemblyman believes is a fair way to admit children to the eight elite high schools across the city.

“We need to come up with comprehensive solutions, including providing free and low-cost test prep for low-income families,” said Braunstein, who adds that the lack of diversity in these schools is something that should be changed.

Without the test, Braunstein said that the specialized high schools will take the top 10 percent of eighth graders from each middle school. But he said that “not all middle schools are the same.”

“Admitting students who aren’t prepared for the rigorous curriculum would diminish the quality of the schools,” the assemblyman said.

Braunstein has also been tackling the airplane and helicopter noise in his district, which is one of the top concerns plaguing his constituents. He explained that in 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched new flight patterns with planes that use Next-Gen technology, which in addition to producing excessive noise also pose potential health risks.

“I hear the noise myself and it personally annoys me,” said the assemblyman who lives in Bayside and hears flights on the TNNIS Climb route.

He shared that according to a study done by Columbia University called “The Trade-Off between Optimizing Flight Patterns and Human Health,” the cost of negative health effects outweighs the benefits of the new flight paths.

In order to get changes that benefit his constituency, Braunstein participates in the New York Community Aviation Roundtable to urge the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to conduct the Part 150 Study to better evaluate noise impacts to the communities surrounding JFK and LaGuardia airports.

The midterm elections are on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Click here to confirm the location of your local polling site.