The following is a letter by John H. Lang published in The Journal News Aug. 29, 2018:
“Re “Rockland: How good are the high school graduation rates?” July 5 article:
There was a time when the East Ramapo School District was academically at its very peak in Rockland County.
All that changed with continued downzoning and a rapid change in the population, as East Ramapo has come under the domination of an ultra-Orthodox community that does not use public schools and has shown no interest in ensuring fair funding.
East Ramapo’s high school graduation rate, according to state data tracking graduations from 2013-2017, came in with a dismal 56 percent.
There is nothing that even a dedicated staff and administration can do to bring about a meaningful change without a budget dedicated to educational excellence.
What the state should have done and still must do is to take complete control of East Ramapo thereby ousting the present school board, dominated by an ultra-Orthodox community that uses private schools, and installing a board that truly represents the student body.
During the past months, many in Rockland have rallied for causes that are important to them. But they must not lose sight of the ongoing needs of the children of East Ramapo.
They are our children — they are your children.
Without change, many of these youngsters will find little if any economic opportunity and most likely will become dependent on government aid in the future — worse yet some will enter the judicial justice system.
Our Rockland legislators who represent us in Albany have become the doormats of the ultra-Orthodox community.
They have failed to understand that schools are not containers but should be building blocks geared towards educational excellence and opportunity.
Our late President, John F. Kennedy wrote a book titled “Profiles in Courage” extolling legislators who stood up when it mattered.
In East Ramapo there is no political courage and as a result the future well-being of some 8,600 children is sacrificed.
John H. Lang
The writer is a former Nanuet school board member and former Rockland Community College trustee.