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Editorial: Barely moving in C. P.

At long last, the work is about to begin on the ballfields in College Point. The city has finished hauling off 210,000 tons of contaminated landfill. And now, nearly five years after it was padlocked by the Department of Sanitation, the sports complex is back to square one.

Yes, another football and soccer season is about to go down the same bureaucratic drain that swallowed the Little League season. But at least there are signs of movement.

If you think this delay is mind-boggling, consider what happened (or didn''t happen) on a nearby stretch of Linden Place. The section of this road extending from 23rd to 28th avenues has been closed for 10 years because of the same flooding conditions that plagued the sports complex. This road has been near the top of CB 7''s capital improvement list since 1987.

Three years ago, the federal government set aside $5.25 million for reconstruction of the street. So far nothing has been done. The good news is that city officials say the plans for reconstructing the road are almost finished.

Sure, Rome wasn''t built in a day. But if Rome were College Point, they''d still be working on designs for the aqueducts.

Summer school blues

It is nearly impossible to look at the number of students either required or urged to attend summer school this year and not conclude that something is radically wrong with the city''s public school system.

In grades 3-8, 72,000 children were told that they had to attend summer school or risk being left back. Add to that an additional 106,000 grade-school students who were "encouraged" to attend summer school.

At the high school level, 118,000 students citywide were required to attend summer school. This year the Board of Education will spend $176 million on summer school . That''s more than the total education budget in most cities.

On the one hand, we applaud Chancellor Harold Levy for ending the practice of "social promotion" and demanding that students prove they can read and do math at an acceptable level before being promoted to the next grade. Nevertheless, we are alarmed that nearly 300,000 students in the public school system are failing. What''s going on here? How is it possible that so many students are being asked to spend their summer in a classroom rather than having fun?

It gets worse. After the first two weeks of summer school, the Board reported that 23 percent of the grade-school students required to attend did not show up. At the high-school level, 44 percent were no-shows.

Although there was some confusion again this year regarding parental notification, parents have no excuse for not sending their kids to summer school. At the end of each marking period, parents were told if their child was in danger of not being promoted. In addition, at the end of the school year, officials, including Levy, made calls to the homes of children required or urged to attend summer school. Parents have no excuse.

But the real question is not why kids are showing up for summer school. The real question is why so many children who sit in classrooms from September to June aren''t learning. Many of those who attend school this summer will do just as poorly as they did during the normal school year. At the very least, the people who run the school system must face the truth that something is radically wrong.

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