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LETTERS: LIRR troubles, bullying solution

LIRR's bad decisions

When is enough enough? When will the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Long Island Rail Road stop pumping billions into a broken commuter system, making costly mistakes in its upgrades and raising commuter rates?

In "Why they're workin' on the railroad" [News, Oct. 22], the LIRR listed many upgrades completed or projected. Among them was the replacement of old M-1 trains with the new M-7s. The LIRR failed to acknowledge that it made an expensive blunder by ordering M-7 trains that were too narrow, necessitating the gap remediation campaign at a cost of more than $40 million.

LIRR President Helena Williams also said there would be no further electrification of the system because it "may not improve service enough to warrant the expense." Yet, she acknowledged that the diesel fleet required a lot of maintenance. In fact, diesel technology is noisy, pollutes the environment and wastes fuel. If the LIRR had updated or electrified its diesel fleet 25 years ago, as many other railroads have done, it would have cost less to do it then, saved fuel costs, provided better service and been better for the environment.

Where are the MTA board members and state legislators who are supposed to oversee the LIRR? If they are not willing to assume their responsibilities, perhaps it is time for all of them to be replaced. Long Islanders, and our visitors, deserve better.

Robert A. Lorelli


Anti-bully aid

Regarding "Stop the Bullies" [News, Oct. 27]: While schools are generating more programs to remediate this problem, they remain unaware that the prevalent instructional format actually may foster bullying and other negative social behavior.

The conventional seating arrangement always is accompanied by directives to "do your own work" and "don't help anyone," which serves to isolate students from one another. Consequently, there is limited opportunity during classroom time for students to interact with one another and develop pro-social skills such as positive interdependence, praise and empathy - which would make a significant difference in how they'd relate to each other outside the classroom, too.

There is one exceptional instructional strategy that does give students excellent practice in pro-social behaviors: cooperative learning. Studies overwhelmingly conclude that not only do students learn more effectively, but they develop far better social attitudes and behaviors than in the format so widely used today.

It is time for cooperative learning, so that our kids can really develop both their minds and their hearts.

Stan Friedland


Editor's note: The writer is a former principal of Bayport-Blue Point High School.