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Letter: Sparse Attendance of Asian Parents

I attended the Herricks Board meeting on Oct. 6 at the Community Center. Invited guests, North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman and State Senator Jack Martins of the 7th Senate District fielded many questions from the general aud ence. There was a huge community turnout, the kind that one would normally expect at every school board meeting, given the dire economic conditions in which we are living and the dramatic changes that are taking place in the field of education. I was impressed with the discussion about a number of issues affecting the community, including the possible effects of the 2 percent limit on property tax increase on our future school budgets.

The audience did not represent the diverse population that makes up the Herricks community. I was somewhat disappointed to note that I was one of a handful of Asian parents attending the meeting. Current demographic trends show that Asians represent a growing number of inhabitants spatially distributed in this district, many of whom are seeking better educational opportunities for their children. Their absence from open forums of this sort negates their ability to influence public opinion on important community issues.

My other disappointment stemmed from the fact that almost the entire meeting time centered around the impact of illegal rental and housing and justifiable exclusion of illegal students in the Herricks School District resulting in overcrowded classrooms due to parents who are willing to engage in dishonest tactics to enroll their children in the district’s schools. As a taxpayer in the district, and as a concerned citizen, and given the high cost of educating a child per year, I could not agree more with the concerned voices. However, given the amount of time allocated for the discussion of this issue, one would expect that solid figures would be presented regarding the number of suspected parents or families engaged in this practice to be able to fairly assess the scope and extent of this problem and to be able to quantify whether this growing concern deserves to crowd out other important issues. I merely suspect that the fear expressed may have been overblown, largely due to a snowballing effect fueled by anecdotal evidence of suspected illegal practices provided by community members, or, for that matter, the school board.

Hopefully, quality time will be given towards the consideration of more pressing topical educational and school-related issues and future discussions could be directed towards a more constructive end.

Baytoram Ramharack