Thomas H. Pyle
To the Editor:
We agree with Mr. Potter's letter [Town Topics Mailbox June 22] calling for the revamping of Princeton Regional Schools special education program for dyslexics. Except for a few bright spots, the current program is inadequate or worse.
Our daughter Liz was classified as "dyslexic" at Littlebrook Elementary School. The Littlebrook special ed teachers were competent and conscientious. Because of their efforts her reading skills were at or above grade level when she finished 5th grade.
In John Witherspoon Middle School, Liz was a B+/A student in special ed English in 6th and 7th grades and was "promoted" to mainstream English in 8th.
Although she received B/C's in the mainstream class, she complained that it was too hard, that she was unable to read her assignments, and that the class was a daily source of embarrassment and distress.
She had an extremely difficult year and by the end of 8th grade had all but given up on school. We met many times with the Child Study Team (CST) during 2000-01.
Each time they assured us that Liz had made excellent progress in John Witherspoon and that her English skills were appropriate for a mainstream 8th grade student. They told us that she just wasn't "trying" hard enough. Foolishly, we believed them.
Two years later we learned that the CST had secretly given Liz the Stanford Diagnostic Test in November 2000 and that this test showed that her English skills had not advanced at all since 5th grade. This was confirmed with other tests given a few months later that showed that Liz had actually lost ground while at John Witherspoon. However, we were never told this either.
After the high school CST voided Liz's 9th grade Individual Educational Program and refused requests for help, we placed her at the Lewis School which is staffed with professionals who know how to teach dyslexic children. When Liz graduated from the Lewis School this May standardized testing showed that her English skills were at a 12th grade level while her verbal SAT was above average. This is a remarkable achievement for a dyslexic who entered 9th grade with 5th grade English skills.
Unfortunately Liz would never have recovered from her John Witherspoon "education" if she had stayed in the high school. We know from other parents that the district has a long history of failure and that all too many dyslexics have finished school with minimal English skills. Basic skills are not being taught. Instead, the children watch movies and listen to tapes. Meanwhile, the CST's provide parents with glowing reports of "progress" when there is little or none.
Special ed needs to be overhauled now, before the future of yet another generation of children is compromised. Since it will take time to fix special ed, the district shouldn't let dyslexics who are currently in Princeton schools fall by the wayside as happened to many children in years past. Until the district has a working program, it should provide funds to pay for professional tutoring and cover the cost of special schools like Lewis.
To the Editor:
A petition signed by residents in the communities directly affected by a proposed jazz club was sent to the Princeton Township Zoning Board and the Princeton Township Committee.
More than 100 signatures were obtained with the majority coming from the streets and communities that will be irreparably harmed by the noise, traffic, and parking that will result from the plan in its current form.
Hopefully our township officials will read this petition and recognize the true concerns of the constituency they represent.
Princeton residents that want to add their voice to this petition may do so by going to the following web address: http://petitiononline.com/ptonjazz/petition.html.
To the Editor:
In her recent letter to the editor about workforce housing [Town Topics Mailbox June 29], Mary Ellen Marino is right on!
In the face of skyrocketing property values, an influx of wealthier and wealthier new residents, and the explosion of teardowns-to-McMansions, Princeton Township is close to forcing out the remaining few of its workforce citizens.
Isn't this a subtle and insidious, if unintended, kind of class warfare? How many of our own municipal civil servants, police, hospital workers, university grounds men, retirees, and shopkeepers actually live in the Princetons they serve? Of the 35 sworn officers of the Township's Police, for example, of which 14 were born and raised in Princeton, only four are still able to live here‹for now.
What kind of community demography do we seek? We talk much about diversity as one of Princeton's hallmarks. But is the future Princeton only for the very rich and very poor? What is to become of our bedrock middle class, the mainstay of all solid American communities?
This has implications for our municipal governance. We might revise zoning laws to allow significantly more affordable housing arrangements in certain amendable neighborhoods. We might revise qualifying formulae to help more "sandwich class" middle income families qualify. We might revise plot ratios in certain areas. We might do all these things, and more.
To do these things, we need new and nimble strategic thinking and tactical flexibility in all our departments and governing boards. We need a new spirit of municipal collaboration, partnership, and efficiency. We need intelligent contending voices to challenge the governing status quo. We must redouble efforts to assure economic diversity and opportunity for not only those Princeton benefits, but also those who benefit Princeton.
At a time of increasing population and automobile density, widening regional economic disparities, increasing individual transience and mobility with attendant security concerns, and local taxes increasing with impunity at three times the rate of inflation, Princeton cannot stand alone as a wealthy residential fortress (with a few "affordable" houses sprinkled in), increasingly staffed by toiling economic serfs from outside its economic walls.
To preserve a truly diverse community, we must ensure that all classes, especially the middle class, can not only work in Princeton, but also live in Princeton.
Thomas H. Pyle
To the Editor:
On June 16, I was proud to receive on behalf of the Arts Council of Princeton a grant from the Rotary Club of Princeton.
Rotary has supported the Arts Council's Summer Camp Scholarship Program for the past three years. Each summer, we provide scholarships to under-served, economically disadvantaged children so that they may participate in our weekly Kids' Summer Art and Drama Camps, thereby enabling them to take advantage of the excellent arts instruction offered at the Arts Council.
This year, in preparation for the restoration of our existing building, we are offering our camps at the Princeton Junior School, and we were concerned that many of the most deserving children in our neighborhood would not have the means to get to and from the school. With these concerns in mind, we applied to Rotary to assist us in transporting all the scholarship students living in the John-Witherspoon neighborhood, and we were rewarded with a grant.
We sincerely thank Rotary for its significant and essential financial contribution to our Summer Camp Scholarship Program.
While thanking those who have committed time, energy, and funds to the Arts Council, we'd like to recognize several other organizations and individuals, including Verizon Foundation, J. Seward Johnson Sr. 1963 Charitable Trust, HomeFront, and the Catherine M. Kapoor Artist-in-Residence Award.
On June 23, the Arts Council held its Annual Meeting, during which staff, trustees, and members gathered to reflect on the Arts Counci''s programs and activities over the past year. Included in the meeting was the presentation of awards to those organizations and individuals who went the extra mile in the past year to help the Arts Council fulfill its mission of building community through the arts.
The Corporate Award went to Verizon Foundation for its generous grand sponsorship of the Arts Council's seventeenth annual edition of Under Age: An Anthology of Poetry, Prose, and Artwork by Students in Grades K through 12. The Foundation Award went to J. Seward Johnson Sr. 1963 Charitable Trust for its substantial financial support of Arts Council community and neighborhood programs.
The Partnership Award went to HomeFront for its efforts to gather and transport area homeless children who participate in the Arts Council's weekly Arts Exchange Program.
Finally, the Catherine M. Kapoor Artist-in-Residence Award went to Eva Mantell for her dedication and enthusiasm as the Arts Exchange Coordinator and gifted teacher of children's art classes at the Hank Panell Learning Center through our Neighborhood Art-Reach Program, funded by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
We would like to thank everyone again and acknowledge that while the Arts Council does many things, it cannot do any of them alone.
To the Editor:
I am writing in response to a letter in the June 1 edition of Town Topics from a concerned mother about her young adult child's realization that TV interfered with his learning to do practical things in life.
Being plugged into electronic screens does in fact disconnect us from participating in life experiences that connect us to others, our real world and ultimately ourselves.
How sad that in a culture of privileges our children are being denied the privilege of actively engaging in their own childhoods rich in play and work ‹ missing the golden opportunities to learn to become a whole human being, capable and confident in one's own abilities to communicate and care for others and our environment, to be self-sufficient and conscientious stewards in the sustainability of our planet.
Childhood is being swallowed up by countless hours of passive wasteful time consumed in front of TV and video game screens. Neil Postman in his enlightened book, The Disappearance of Childhood, writes, "There are parents who are defying the directives of our culture. Such parents are not only helping their children have a childhood....Those parents will help keep alive a human tradition."
Bravo to this mother and the brave others who are observant, responsive and respectful to the real needs of their children. Be noble. Be courageous. "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Our future depends on it!
Now, how do we get our libraries to "unplug?" The massive screens in the new Princeton Public Library are disappointing, distracting and ironically counter productive to the real purpose of a library's intention for existence -- inspiring and inviting us to open a book and READ. Is there no safe haven in a public place free from a screen? Be aware and beware.
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