During the past decade, we have heard endless talk about reforming our state education system. But we have little to show for it. So far, reform has focused on what happens inside our schools. The result? Flat test scores, an achievement gap that hasn’t budged and ballooning costs to help battle these challenges.
Now Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is taking a go at it, and has charged a commission with increasing efficiencies and improving outcomes at our schools. But if Cuomo’s team focuses on the same old solutions, we can expect the same dismal results. To really make a difference, we need to start thinking outside of the classroom.
With the May 24 arrest of 51-year-old Pedro Hernandez, there appears to be closure on this heretofore unsolved crime. Patz became the first missing child to appear on the back of a milk carton. His disappearance not only helped heighten awareness surrounding missing and abducted children, but it also spurred President Ronald Reagan to declare May 25 National Missing Children’s Day and for congress to establish the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 1983 and 1984 respectively. While this high-profile crime happened in an urban setting, there’s always been the concern of these insidious transgressions making their way into seemingly bucolic suburban settings. In fact, Hernandez hails from the middle class burg of Maple Shade, NJ, a community whose motto is, “Nice town, friendly people.”
In 1858, with much of the literary world entranced by the fantastic stories of Jules Verne, Fitz James O’Brien penned a charmingly delightful short story called “The Diamond Lens.” It’s about a microscopist enthralled by the mysterious, unrevealed and indiscernible universe of the infinitesimal. By depressing the wondrous lens of his miraculous instrument just a few hairbreadths downward, the curtain between the visible and invisible worlds is parted, revealing a heretofore unseen magical and enchanting existence. He is thus bewitched by the dazzling expanse and boundless dome of a hidden world; its images pied by countless hues and microscopic forms previously concealed.
It serves as the unofficial kickoff for the summer season and/or yet another three-day weekend for retailers to fill their coffers with the bounty of retail sales promotions. Sadly, this is what has become of Memorial Day, a national holiday meant to honor those who have died in our nation’s service. Its origins are murky. A number of cities and anecdotes lay claim to its birthplace ranging from women’s groups in the South decorating the graves of Confederate soldiers to freed slaves in Charleston honoring fallen Union soldiers. It was first observed on May 30, 1868 when General John Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (an organization for northern Civil War veterans) issued General Order No. 11, which led to flowers being placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington Cemetery. And while all the northern states officially recognized what was then known as Decoration Day by the 1890s, the South refused to acknowledge it until after World War I. Memorial Day became a national holiday and known by its current name in 1968, when the date was moved from its original May 30 date to the last Monday in May.
Do you know why we honor our deceased veterans with the wearing of the poppy? Why do veterans of the William Bradford Turner Post No. 265 and its Ladies Auxiliary Unit distribute hospitalized veteran-made poppies on Memorial Day and throughout the month of May?
I want to commend Ronald Scaglia on an excellently written and well researched three-part series “Just One Pill” that appeared in three consecutive editions through May in the Anton Community Newspapers and is available online. As a former journalist and editor, I consider the series representative of excellent journalism and a contender for award recognition.
I wanted to thank Karen Gellender, the writer of the May 17 column, “Get the Word Out: Parking in Parking Lots is Cool.” It was a truly hysterical and yet sad commentary on the busy lives of many individuals.
If there really ever was a public awareness program to teach people that the laws apply to everyone, all the time, I would not hesitate to support it. Heck, I would even donate money towards it!
They must soar into the clouds, they must be exalting, they must exude power, and they must, from their summit, lord over the earth. I’m talking about skyscrapers, a feature as identifiable to a major city as the red barn is to rural America. Exactly how tall a building has to be to qualify as a skyscraper is an academic question. There is no threshold, no line in the sky that has to be crossed and no metric yardstick to measure it by. But like Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography, you may not be able to define it but you know it when you see it. How true: A skyscraper is axis-mundi —- a pillar that connects the terrestrial world with the heavens above.
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