Don’t exempt religious schools
Columnist William F.B. O’Reilly is way off base when he asserts that yeshiva education, which is woefully inadequate in all areas except religion, should be protected as a matter of freedom [“Freedom at stake in yeshiva fight,” Opinion, April 9].
Should we not value English, science and mathematics? Teaching these basic skills does not dictate how we are permitted to think; it gives us tools with which to think.
Publicly funded compulsory education does not benefit only those who graduate, but all of society. Too many yeshiva graduates can barely communicate in English and do not know basic math or science, according to the New York City Department of Education, although O’Reilly is impressed with their knowledge of the Talmud.
O’Reilly’s solution — that those dissatisfied with yeshiva education simply vote “with their feet” and send their children to different schools — is preposterous. If parents choose to home-school a child, they cannot simply teach whatever they please; they must cover the state-mandated curriculum or face charges of truancy.
Why should yeshivas get exemptions from those standards, particularly when they accept public funds for buses and school security? It would constitute a clear violation of separation of church and state if they were to merely provide religious instruction and not basic education.
Richard Schloss,East Northport
Editor’s note: The writer is on the board of Long Island Atheists, a local partner of American Atheists Inc., which advocates for separation of church and state.
William F.B. O’Reilly defended the goal of ultra-Orthodox yeshivas to provide a minimal secular education to boys while taking public funds for transportation and security.
A recent report on Hasidic yeshivas, by a curricular advocacy group calling itself Young Advocates for Fair Education, said that one yeshiva, Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov in Brooklyn, receives 40 percent of its revenue from federal funding, 15 percent from the state and 9 percent from the city.
With public money, Hasidic yeshivas are producing a generation of English illiterates and future welfare recipients. When the Taliban denies girls an education, we call it child abuse. When Hasidic yeshivas deny boys a basic secular education, O’Reilly calls it religious freedom!
Keith H. Rothman, Islandia
John McEnroe was frequently positive
I must take exception to film critic Rafer Guzman’s characterization of tennis player John McEnroe in the review of the film “Borg vs. McEnroe” [exploreLI, April 13].
It is correct that McEnroe screamed at umpires (by, the way, McEnroe was usually right), but the player’s interactions with fans and the media were frequently positive. He was intelligent, insightful and an interviewer’s delight.
I recall McEnroe once saying to a woman who was frantically trying to calm a crying infant while he waited patiently to serve, “Relax. I have kids, too.”
My response to the characterization that was published reminds me of the legendary McEnroe rant to a chair umpire: “You cannot be serious.”
Patrick Calabria, Seaford
Editor’s note: The writer formerly covered tennis for Newsday.
Encouraged by Zinke stand on wind power
After 15 months of promoting fossil-fuel energy development, including oil drilling on federal lands, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is finally giving us hope for the future by advocating for the development of wind energy over fossil fuels [“Boosting offshore wind,” News, April 7].
Fossil fuels were the dominant source of energy in the 20th century. However, they are becoming economically less feasible since the easy-to-get oil and gas has been extracted. The harder-to-get oil and gas are what remain, and hydrofracking technology is costly and does extensive environmental damage.
Safer, cleaner and less expensive energy sources lie in the renewables such as wind and solar. Long Island possesses great potential for offshore wind, and the costs of both wind and solar energy have dramatically declined over the last decade.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has set a goal of producing half of our energy from renewables by 2030. It’s great to hear Zinke favoring the development of offshore wind energy over oil exploration, which would threaten our beaches and way of life.
Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the Sierra Club.
Police shouldn’t announce crackdowns
New York State police announced Operation Hang Up, a statewide crackdown [“Police targeting distracted driving,” News, April 13]. Wouldn’t these initiatives work better if they were not advertised ahead of time? If the police want to concentrate on one area of vehicular crime in a given period, they should keep it to themselves.
Christine Gietschier, Westbury
I fully understand the police issuing tickets for cellphone use while driving. We all know what a distraction cellphones are. But I cannot understand why there’s no law against people driving with dogs on their laps.
Dogs belong harnessed in the backseat or on the passenger-side floor! These drivers put not only the dog in danger, but also the public.
Nicole Bruno, Manhasset