Editorial: Zeldin steps up on Common Core, helicopters

03/17/2015 6:00 AM |
Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is a House Foreign Affairs Committee member. (Courtesy file photo)

Congressman Lee Zeldin is a House Foreign Affairs Committee member. (Courtesy file photo)

Freshman Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) has had a good few weeks.

We’ll hold our fire — for now — about his joining forces with reactionary U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, spouting conspiracy theories about American foreign policy.

But we commend him for supporting local educators fighting the Common Core system by introducing legislation and also for standing with opponents of ear-splitting helicopter traffic over the East End.

Mr. Zeldin has weighed in on Common Core by writing an amendment to an education bill that ensures school districts won’t be penalized by a denial of federal funds if they opt out of using the “teach the test”-heavy form of education overhaul.

While you’d be hard-pressed to find many people who are against challenging our students to rely less on memorization when it comes to math -— or think more critically when it comes to English — the sweeping, comprehensive rollout of the Common Core standards itself has been a disaster.

Mr. Zeldin is correct in seeking to allow districts to bail on Common Core as it stands.

It was also encouraging to see Mr. Zeldin take a leadership position on the issue of excessive noise from aircraft buzzing overhead by calling a press conference March 8 in Southold with elected state, county and local officials.

Standing together on the issue is essential, since powerful interests with deep pockets are battle-ready to defend the status quo. As Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) noted at the Southold press event, the greatest weapon opponents of excessive air traffic have is unity.

Mr. Zeldin could be a strong champion for the rights of residents to live in peace and quiet because he takes his place in the majority Republican caucus of the House of Representatives. He has also been appointed vice chairman of the subcommittee on aviation, an extension of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. We hope he uses this perch to keep the heat on the Federal Aviation Administration to find a solution to a problem we have lived with for years.

At the press conference, Mr. Zeldin made all the right moves in addressing the issue, calling on the FAA to regulate and enforce the altitude levels at which pilots must fly on incoming and outgoing East End flights. He also said he supports the East Hampton Town Board in its push for local legislation to seriously restrict the number of commuter flights from Manhattan and Westchester County, which have spiraled out of sight.

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