Letter: Why Hempstead schools struggle

Hempstead High School. (Aug. 22, 2013)

Hempstead High School. (Aug. 22, 2013) Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

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I'd like to answer the question posed by William D. McLaurin, the administrator of Hempstead public schools ["Hempstead can't be LI's Ellis Island," Opinion, April 21]. He asked, "How else can one explain the economic and educational isolation found in communities such as Hempstead?"

One reason why the population in Hempstead is mostly "poor, immigrant and of color" is because of the abundance of rental properties like two- and three-family homes and apartment buildings. The same goes for Freeport. Low-income people who cannot afford to buy a home navigate to the rental market, and Hempstead has plenty of it.

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By citing the plight of this community, McLaurin would have us believe that Long Islanders somehow collaborate and force people to live segregated lives in Hempstead. The questions he should be seeking answers to are why students find themselves at the bottom of the economic ladder in the first place? Could it be because of broken homes and absentee fathers? Could it be the result of bad parenting? Could it be because their parents came here illegally? Could it be that the families don't care about school?

Hempstead spends more than $18,000 per year per pupil. That's high among school districts around the country. Yet, Hempstead High School has a graduation rate that hovers around 48 percent.

Yes, there is something wrong in Hempstead, but to put the blame on Long Islanders for the district's misfortunes is terribly wrong.

Peter Ekstrom, North Massapequa
 

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