Gov. David Paterson said he was in favor of lengthening the school day in an effort to quell teen violence and other problems during a town hall meeting last Thursday night at Far Rockaway High School.
Paterson said the current school day was set up in the days when most children lived on farms.
“We’ve got to get a 21st century calendar for the children of our time,” he told a cheering audience.
The governor said most issues affecting teens, including violence, delinquency and pregnancy, take place between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., when they are not at school.
The town hall was focused on issues of teen violence, education and unemployment in Far Rockaway.
Paterson noted that 5,000 jobs were lost in Queens last month but said his administration has made progress with minority and women-owned businesses.
He said minority and women-owned businesses have increased fivefold in the last two years.
When told statistics show inner-city schools are failing, including those in Far Rockaway, Paterson said, “The Rockaway schools are challenged, like the schools all over the city.”
Referring to the recent city Department of Education plan to close Beach Channel HS on the peninsula, Paterson said he thought it was important children go to school close to where they live — a remark that drew considerable applause from the audience.
“We hope that the city is taking that into consideration,” he said.
When asked what he has done to bring green jobs to minority communities, Paterson said his administration launched a green jobs program in August and is going to social service agencies to train people in jobs such as installing solar panels.
Paterson said the state is providing funding for those who want to be trained in green job programs and that 13 percent of the funding goes to those of black and Hispanic descent.
As for what he has done to combat teenage crime, Paterson said he has funded after-school programs and is trying to help youth groups associated with churches and other organizations.
“We think the future of our young people is our priority,” he said.
On the potential loss of free student MetroCards, Paterson said the MTA proposal is “outrageous.”
“I am working on creating the revenues” so MetroCards will be in the hands of students, the governor said. “I don’t think you’ll be seeing kids without MetroCards on my watch.”
When asked about bonuses given to hedge fund managers and other Wall Street types, Paterson said he was not entirely opposed to the idea because 50 percent of the bonuses come back to the state in taxes.
But he said the problem is when Wall Street gives out bonuses in stocks, which cannot be taxed.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2010 Community News Group
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