Today’s news:

The Civic Scene: Flushing electrical union holds scholarship awards

Local 3, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, holds an annual scholarship awards program in the Electrical Industry Center in Flushing, where 40 Electrical union workers’ children received scholarships during the 2004 program. The money comes from the Educational and Cultural Trust Fund of the Electrical Industry provided by Local 3 and electrical contractors.

The Electrical Industry’s investment in the youth of our nation is similar to that of the United Federation of Teachers, my union, which annually presents four-year $1,000 scholarships to 300 New York City public school students from every high school who have high grades and financial need. Like the UFT, Local 3 negotiated the scholarship money from its employers.

The guest speaker was New York state Comptroller Alan Hevesi. A number of dignitaries were present. The following are the Queens high school youths who received Electrical Industry scholarships.

Marisa Miller is a student in Beach Channel High School who lives in Howard Beach. She has been on the soccer team and the rowing crew, as well as in the band and involved with drama. She plans to attend a SUNY school and study environmental science.

Courtney Prezioso lives in Flushing and attends St. Francis Prep High School in Fresh Meadows. She is on the handball and equestrian teams. She wants to study physical therapy but has not decided on a college.

Brian Colgan lives in Floral Park and attends Archbishop Molloy High School. He is on the swim team as well as the yearbook and the newspaper staffs. He plans to study journalism at Tufts University.

Joseph Weston lives in New Hyde Park and attends Holy Cross High School. He is a volunteer at Beacon JHS 216 where he tutors and teaches Tae Kwan Do.

Attending the breakfast were members of Community Board 8 such as Susan Cleary, Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Forrestal, Bob Harris, Edna Harris and Carol Ann Foley. Incidentally, Foley just received the Pacesetter of the Year Award from Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) during Women’s History Month and was profiled in Newsday.

She is president of the 107th Precinct Community Council, treasurer of Community Board 8 and vice president of the Regular Democratic Club in Flushing. Foley has coordinated the local National Night Out Against Crime for the past 13 years. She is a medical clerk for Local 3.

Good and bad news of the week

It is good that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing billions of dollars into the schools. Usable computers, copy machines, video players, shades, overhead projectors, an adequate supply of paper, current books and workbooks the children can actually write in are just some of the things teachers need on a daily basis.

I wonder, however, if trying to teach 3-year-olds even only a half a day without naptime or having children come to school seven hours a day and on weekends without eight or nine hours of sleep a night will help them learn. Why do some children put their heads down on a desk and sleep sometimes?

There is talk of training parents. This is good because a number of parents don’t know how to read to their children at night or check homework or that they should not watch TV until 1 p.m. with them. The free breakfast and lunch often are the best meals of the day for some children. How can children learn if they are tired or hungry?

In the fall I told of a teacher whose lunch was at 11:30 a.m. on the extended Tuesday. The teacher and class then went straight without a break until 3:30 p.m. The situation was never corrected.

Luckily a reading or other teacher was able to be there most Tuesday afternoons, but sometimes it was close as to whether the teacher could hold out until 3:30 p.m. without running to the bathroom for a couple of minutes and just letting the teacher across the hall keep an eye on them. Of course, the students could use the pass but sometimes they became a little tired and restless.

I read somewhere that they want to train teachers to spot young children who are at risk. Why? An experienced kindergarten teacher can spot the problem children often on the first day of school. One teacher told me of a young kindergarten Afghani child who several years ago cried all day in September. After reading what it was like in Afghanistan under the Taliban the teacher understands this child’s actions.

I remember a high school boy I had about 30 years ago who had a glass eye that replaced one destroyed with a hanger. He would sometimes jump on a desk and take out his glass eye. A great learning experience!

I wish the mayor and chancellor good luck in teaching all children to read. Do I keep hearing that they want to hold teachers accountable and base their pay on what the children learn? Ha!

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