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Letter: Wrong to deter wheelchair athletes

I was surprised and disappointed that the Syracuse Chargers Track Club originally prohibited two 12-year-old boys in wheelchairs from participating in the Fourth of July 10-mile road race in Cazenovia ["Race's sponsor bars 2 boys in wheelchairs," News, July 3]. After a protest, they were allowed into the race.

Wheelchair athletes have always been welcome to participate in events staged by the Greater Long Island Running Club. More to the point, one of the goals of our club has always been to include children and adults with special needs in our events to the extent possible. Indeed, we offer free entree to the special-needs youngsters and their coaches in the Rolling Thunder Special Needs Program in our events.

Runners and the organizations that support them have a special obligation to encourage athletics for everyone, and to be inclusive rather than exclusive. That's what we try to do, and the Chargers should do likewise.

Mike Polansky, Plainview

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Greater Long Island Running Club.

Poverty influences students' fates

It seems to be Newsday's odd assumption that somehow tenure has resulted in incompetent teachers working in low-performing -- that is, high poverty -- districts ["Challenging teacher tenure," Editorial, July 10]. And that all the "great" teachers are in high-performing -- that is, wealthy -- districts. Is the idea that if we could swap these teachers, there would be a miraculous reversal in test results?

Nothing could be further from the truth. Tenure has nothing to do with where a teacher works. While a "great" teacher -- who even knows what that really means? -- will certainly make some difference to some children, poverty and environment will always be the greatest influence for most children.

Robert Gerhardt, Huntington Station

Editor's note: The writer is a public school teacher.

Rentals not a burden on schools

In "New drive for affordable rentals" [News, July 7], Newsday quotes Sheila Saks, the former president of the House Beautiful Civic Association in Dix Hills, saying she fears longtime homeowners will end up paying school taxes for children who live in the affordable rentals.

Saks and leaders of other local civic groups have consistently opposed affordable housing in Dix Hills, thereby contributing to an actual decline in student enrollment that forced the closing of two elementary schools this year.

Unfortunately, their fear of children has been misplaced. Studies, including one by the Long Island Association, have demonstrated that affordable rental apartments, usually occupied by young couples, single people and senior citizens, do not generate many children and tend to be tax-positive for school districts.

Elizabeth Hubbard, Huntington

Editor's note: The writer is the treasurer of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, which advocates for affordable housing.

Small drones are a danger to aircraft

We need immediate federal legislation to license drones and their operators. On July 7, two drones nearly hit a New York Police Department helicopter flying over the George Washington Bridge, and officers arrested the drone operators.

Police say the helicopter had to swerve to avoid a collision.

Drones and their operators need to be licensed, with draconian penalties for unlicensed operation, or we are going to see some very serious and sad complications. Toy drones costing as little as $300 have altitude and range capabilities that make them a serious threat to all other forms of aviation. Congress needs to deal with this immediately before a tragedy makes us sorry we did not act sooner.

Ted D. Gluckman, Rockville Centre

VA administrators limit pain medication

I am a disabled combat veteran who uses the pain management clinic at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center. With the VA and its problems in the news lately, there is another issue affecting those most needing the VA's care ["VA probes retaliation on whistle-blowers," News, July 9]. The Department of Veterans Affairs is dictating medical policy to its doctors.

Out of fear of painkiller abuse, the VA has recently mandated across-the-board reduction of the medication that veterans need for reducing pain from the most catastrophic injuries. The VA's doctors should be the ones establishing medical care. Absent that, the veteran is the one who suffers.

Michael J. Oakley, Lindenhurst

School district denies veterans discount

I am a Navy veteran of the Korean War, and I find it disgraceful that the Mineola school district did not approve the tax break for veterans ["School district abandons veterans," Letters, July 1].

Maybe it should have a second vote, like it does when the school budget fails. I am tired of paying school taxes at my age.

Jack Taylor, West Hempstead