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Editorial: Black belt mom

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Kimberly Esparza is a profile in courage and so is her mom. Together their accomplishment stands as a testimony to the strength of the human spirit.

Kimberly was less than a year old when doctors told her mother, Georgina Esparza-Antu, that she was deaf. To this day, Kimberly communicates with the world through sign language. A little more than two years ago, she surprised her mother with her request to study karate. Each day on her bus ride to the school for the deaf in Jackson Heights, she passed the Tiger Schulman Karate School on Queens Boulevard.

It looked like fun. To her single-parent mom, karate school must have looked like one more nearly impossible challenge in a very challenging life. Nevertheless, Georgina brought her daughter to the school. Much to its credit, the school did not turn Kimberly away because of her disability.

For two years, the mother-daughter team from Maspeth showed up at the school. Kimberly kicked and punched her way to a black belt, while her mother translated the instructor’s directions into sign language.

Frustrated by her inability to communicate with her daughter, Georgina studied American sign language in an evening college program. Shecame to New York to work as a sign language interpreter at the Mexican consulate in New York, although she is now a full-time employee at Tiger Schulmann.

Another parent might have told her daughter that deaf children don’t take part in martial arts. But Kimberly’s mom has made a point of opening doors for her daughter and letting her know that there is little she cannot do if she puts her mind to it.

For any 16-year-old, earning a black belt is an enormous accomplishment. But for this courageous team, the accomplishment is so much greater. Not only did her disability keep her from hearing the instructions of her sensei, it also affected her sense of balance, making kicking far more difficult.

We salute Kimberly for her guts and determination. We are certain she is an inspiration to all who know her. And we salute her mother and her martial arts school for looking at Kimberly and seeing not her disability but her unlimited potential.

Editorial: On the brink of reform

At the writing of this editorial, it appears that Mayor Bloomberg is on the brink of winning the battle to abolish the Board of Education. All parties involved in the battle to reform the city’s beleaguered public education system may finally be ready to sign off on a plan that will give the mayor control of this system.

There is no question that the people of New York City want this reform. Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Pataki want this as did Mayor Giuliani. It is not a question of mayor (mayoral control?) but rather a matter of accountability. Until recently, however, the state Legislature stood in the path of meaningful reform.

Even now runaway egos and partisan petulance threaten to derail the reform. Sources in Albany said Friday that state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver may withdraw his support for reform if it appears that someone else will get the credit. Silver should be more worried about who will get the blame if the reform dies in Albany.

Silver should know that New Yorkers don’t care who gets credit. They want the Board of Education abolished and they want the mayor to run the schools. They want their children to get a quality education and they want teachers to get fair pay. They are tired of the petty politics that have been delaying school reform.

Voters should let their representatives in the Assembly know that they will not tolerate more delays. The voters don’t care who gets the credit. If Silver cannot keep his ego in check, he should get out of the way.

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