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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A Study in Contrasts

I'm sure many of you recall the rancorous battle leading up to the School Board elections in my district. I blogged about it here, here, here, here, here, and here. I was reading today about the similar dispute in the East Ramapo Central School District, and I was struck by the difference in the tone of comments made by the admistrators in that district as compared to the rhetoric that we had to endure from the administration and board members here. From the article:
“They know how to work the system,” Schuchman said of the Orthodox. “They vote as one bloc and they’ll do the same thing here that they did in East Ramapo.”
He said the people who send their children to private schools should be barred from serving on the school board.
St. Lawrence, the Ramapo town supervisor, said he finds such rhetoric “really distasteful.”
Orthodox Jews, like any other Ramapo taxpayer whose money funds the public schools, should be able to serve on the school board, he said.
“This is America, people can run for election,” St. Lawrence said. “What’s wrong with having Orthodox people on the school board?
“I’m Catholic, but I can tell you that a lot of lashon hara goes on in this town,” he said, using the Yiddish term for “hurtful speech.”
Of the approximately 26,500 school-aged children living in the East Ramapo Central School District, only about 8,000 attend public schools. Most of the others attend Jewish schools.
“What if all the Orthodox and chasidic people put their kids in the public schools tomorrow?” St. Lawrence wondered. “Property taxes would go through the roof.”
Christian Sampson, the East Ramapo Central School District Board president, said the Orthodox community has legitimate concerns about competing financial obligations: multiple yeshiva tuitions and rising property taxes that are used to fund public schools.
“[Orthodox board members] have asserted that they will strive to find ways to save money without compromising the quality of public education,” said Sampson, who is not Jewish.
These reasoned, logical comments couldn't be further from the kind of heated arguments we received from those representing the public schools in my community. Just after the proposed budget was voted down for the second time, I actually attended a public School Board meeting where one of the outgoing trustees stood up and engaged in the most hateful diatribe against the Orthodox. It was truly distressing. Even more distressing was the standing ovation he received from the public school teachers and parents present, and the lack of rebuke by the school superintendent who was sitting at the table. What the above comments from St. Lawrence and Sampson show me is that there is room for rational debate when both parties come to the table ready to make a good-faith effort to understand each other's needs. I hope that eventually, we can come to that place here in District #15.


Blogger TheRanter said...

Reasoned.Logical.Christopher St Lawrence. all in one sentence....not likely. I dont know about the situation in Lawrence so I wont comment on it, but St. Lawrence is a realist. He knows where his bread is buttered. To quote Deep Throat....follow the money.

11:08 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Well, looks like they've got a Saint up there in Ramapo.

11:15 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Or maybe, just maybe, he believes in equality for all taxpayers. How revolutionary.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Without knowing anything about upstate NT, there is huge class element to the hostility in Lawrence. I get the feeling that the non-O Lawrence community look at the O newcomers as a bunch of unwashed philistines.

12:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we should send this article to the members of the Lawrence School Board with St. Laurence's comments highlighted. I'm so used to hearing from the other side out here that we have no right to vote or have an opinion i almost started to believe it.

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have said this before and I'll say it again.perhaps if the Orthodox in our community would show a modicum of menschlichket the non-frum might be less antagonistic to us.First stop double parking your goddam suvs on Central Avenue.Second,the parking spaces for the disabled are really meant for the disabled not for Yali's customers.Third,walk on the street like civilized human beings,no one gives a damn to hear your lousy cell phone conversations.Fourth,when you are in a store watch your kids.Fifth,stop stuffing your kids with sugar,to hell with oh nuts.sugar only makes your spoiled brats even wilder.I could go on and on.

3:16 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

You MUST be kidding me. I am as in favor of behaving like human beings as the next person, but if you think we are the only offenders out here you are sorely mistaken. I see this kind of behavior from all sides here. I have friends who live close to the Lawrence Middle School who have had to call the police numerous times for broken house and car windows due to public school students throwing rocks when they walk to and from school. I have been blocked in on Central Avenue by Non-Orthodox people double-parking as many times as I have by Orthodox people. This just in: Non-orthodox kids eat lots of candy too. Orthodox people have a long way to go in terms of perpetuating kiddush hashem because we should know better. Not because we are worse than anyone else out there. And none of this explains why tax-paying citizens who attend private schools do not have the same right to vote in elections and serve on school boards as tax-paying citizens who do. Last I checked, even boors get to vote.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you hit the nail right on the head"we should know better".that's just my point.We do stand out .We are obligated to make kiddush hashem,not chillul hashem.Of course we have the same rights as anybody else.I am just trying to explain some of the reasons why otherwise intelligent and decent people do not like us.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Education4Less said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Education4Less said...

Here's an update from ALPS with the latest round of antics from the District 15 School Board and Superintendent.
(Try to ignore ALPS' trademark antagonistic rhetoric.)

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you review the number of public school students in the East Ramapo School District and the taxes raised, you will find that this district spends more money on a per student basis than just about any school district in the country.
The argument that only people who send their children to public school can serve is ludicrous. This is a country of one man one vote.

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