Kindergartners at South Shore Charter School in Ronkonkoma.

Kindergartners at South Shore Charter School in Ronkonkoma. Credit: Barry Sloan

We bit the bullet for better health care

As a New York City retiree, I understand the need for municipalities to save money [“Shrink retiree health coverage,” Editorial, Sept. 18]. In our case, however, in 2014, the United Federation of Teachers and other large unions struck a deal with the city to take $1 billion from the Health Insurance Stabilization Fund (specifically earmarked to offset rising health care costs) to fund raises largely for teachers.

In 2021, they decided to pay back that money on the backs of its retirees by forcing us into a for-profit Medicare Advantage Plan. By the way, this plan actually drains more from the Medicare trust funds than traditional Medicare.

We went without raises and worked for lower salaries believing we would have the health care we were promised and earned. In 1975, city union pension funds were used to help bail out the city.

There are other ways to save money. Self-insurance and auditing retiree lists are just two. We had no input into the use of funds meant only to offset rising health care costs. We should not be penalized.

Thanks to the efforts of the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, the courts have agreed with us.

— Camille Croce Dee, Roslyn

Newsday’s editorial does not reflect the situation for many retirees in the New York City system. I worked for the City University of New York as a professor. We received compensation at a rate lower than many other universities. We accepted this situation because we knew that, upon retirement, we would be receiving good benefits.

The current attempt to reduce our health care benefits is in violation of our previous agreements with the city.

— Matthew Shalette, Island Park

I agree with the letters responding to Newsday’s shocking editorial about taking away health benefits promised to retired government workers [“Retirees should not lose earned benefits,” Letters, Sept. 20].

My husband worked as a city public school teacher for over three decades with the promise that his health care benefits were fully protected in retirement.

Now that he is 77, the city has tried to renege on this promise, which was a negotiated benefit. This would have cost us hundreds of dollars a month for a plan with the same benefits if a judge hadn’t stopped this.

Shame on Mayor Eric Adams for targeting vulnerable retirees.

— Terry Bain, Rockville Centre

Charter schools aren’t necessarily beneficial

Charter schools can be beneficial in that they develop new educational practices to be adopted by their wider communities [“Opening of charter school renews debate,” News, Sept. 18].

But if these are little more than buzzwords with non-union staff that claim to be closing the “learning gap” in predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods, they do more harm than good.

The “learning gap” is a predictable disparity in learning outcomes between well-resourced and poorly resourced communities. Calling it a “learning gap” obfuscates the policy decisions that reproduce these learning conditions and outcomes.

Because public schools are funded through property taxes, inequities between districts are built into the system. Charter schools exacerbate this problem by taking funding away from public schools and denying large student demographics, such as special education students, admission to their schools.

So if and when poorer public schools fail, the manufactured “choice” is charter schools. Then teachers and families leave districts, schools close, and everyone is worse off, no matter how much individuals seem to benefit.

The solution to solving economic inequities is to fully fund public schools. Our students deserve the futures they create together, not the ones that are funded for a select few.

— Timothy Karcich, Deer Park

The writer is an English teacher at Wyandanch Memorial High School.

Don’t use my car — what’s a safe option?

Long Island was built for cars [“Thousands on LI to forgo cars Friday,” News, Sept. 20]. My bus stop is at least one mile away and the bus comes only once an hour — maybe. It goes to a mall.

We have no sidewalks to walk on. Try to cross a wide Suffolk County road at a traffic light while cars make right turns at the red light. You take your life into your hands.

Riding a bicycle is just as hazardous. Add in speeding drivers with eyes on their cellphones.

Thank you, but I am much safer with 2,000 pounds of a steel car around me.

— Gracie Rugile, Rocky Point

Review Penn Station’s grand hall priorities

While “a grand train hall” would be nice eventually at Penn Station, the priority should be improvements to platform capacity, safety and service [“Push on to speed a new Penn plan,” News, Sept. 13].

— Suzanne Mueller, Great Neck

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