I was saddened to read the official numbers of homeless children on Long Island ["Numbers surge on LI," News, March 17]. In Nassau County, there were roughly 3,200 homeless students in the 2012-13 school year, up from 663 in 2007-08. In Suffolk County, the numbers were far worse: nearly 5,000 homeless students in 2012-13, compared with 1,956 in 2007-08.
The causes of the increase are the economic recession; the mortgage crisis, with a record number of home foreclosures; families displaced by superstorm Sandy; and the inadequate supply of affordable housing on Long Island.
Childhood can be full of growing pains and challenges for average children in stable homes. Imagine the same challenges with no place to live. Imagine the stigma for children whose classmates find out they're homeless. Imagine doing homework without a home to do it in.
What do you think the likelihood is for these children to go to college? How likely is it that they will even graduate high school? How many will turn to drugs and crime because they have so few options?
Let these numbers be a call to action to every one of us. Will you and I stand idly by while these children fall through the social safety net?
David Golbert, Great Neck
Dream Act defeat was common sense
I beg to differ on Newsday's labeling the defeat of the New York Dream Act as the regrettable act of a Republican-dominated Senate ["Dream Act can still be a reality," Editorial, March 19]. I would call it the commonsense workings of the Senate.
While it is certainly easy to blame Albany for various woes, this time the Senate got it right. I wanted to thank opponents of the bill for doing the right thing for all the citizens of New York who believe in the rule of law.
I appreciate their work to defeat the Dream Act, which has come up repeatedly in the State Legislature. Our society is more than generous to people who want to better themselves, but we have to draw the line when our laws have been broken.
The Dream Act would excuse and reward people for breaking the law by living in the United States illegally. That is not a message I want to send.
The Long Island senators are keeping our values straight. They have taken the first step to stop the endless raiding of our limited state funds for objectionable programs. Now that the $25 million to fund this program in 2015 has been removed from the budget, maybe the best course would be to refund that money to the taxpayers of New York.
Chris Wales, Mineola
Good role models of female friendship
What a fabulous story and testament to the power of female friendship and support ["Pasta, present & future," Act 2, March 22].
The bond these Spaghetti Dinner Girls share is amazing. They started their annual get-togethers as high school sophmores; what a perfect antivenom to bullying and cliques.
This group should have its own TV show, and we should get rid of the reality "Real Housewives" garbage and show young girls how empowering real friends can be.
Mary Calabria, Seaford
Holy site has many claims on it
Captioning the photo of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as the third-holiest site in Islam rather than the holiest site in Judaism -- so holy that many Jews believe one should not walk there for fear of walking on the area known as the Holy of Holies -- is like the sports section during the Olympics telling us about the bronze medal winners and not the gold ["Holy, treasured," Travel, March 16]!
The Western Wall where Jews pray is, as the story mentions, a retaining wall of the Temple Mount, and the closest Jews can be to the site of the First and Second Temples.
Alison Bermant, East Norwich
Editor's note: The writer is general manager of The Best of Israel Travel in Syosset.
Lawsuit over prayer
In "Praying Muslims sue Empire State Building" [News, March 21], Newsday states that Fahad and Amina Tirmizi are suing the owners of the Empire State Building for $5 million, claiming that while they were praying on the observation deck at 11 p.m., they were "assaulted, battered and forcibly removed." The couple were dressed in traditional Muslim garb.
Even understanding that Muslims pray five times daily, why would they visit the Empire State Building during a prayer time? Why would they have their two young children out at that time and not in bed?
Bob Schiller, Holtsville