To the editor:
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is wrong again.
In his Aug. 20 email newsletter, he writes “the best path forward is to commit to remote learning until schools are adequately prepared while simultaneously ensuring financial support for families to cover lost income for parents and guardians who have to stay home, or child care expenses for those who cannot. Our only option right now is remote learning.”
While he is entitled to his opinion, it is one not shared by many (perhaps even a majority) of parents here in Riverdale.
I live in the same building complex as his son, so he didn’t have to reach out very far to get his finger on the pulse of how eager some parents are to send their kids back to school. And yet, he continues to demonstrate a pattern of incorrectly over-emphasizing health risks at the expense of taking away liberties, freedoms and quality of life for his constituents.
This started with his vaccine bill last year, which disenfranchised numerous students from attending schools because of valid religious exemptions from our Jewish and other faith-based communities. His bill also made it nearly impossible to qualify for legitimate medical exemptions, thereby making parents choose between not being able to send their kids to school, or risking their children’s health.
His current call for remote-only learning commits the same crime of taking a holier-than-thou stance, assuming that he knows better about how to weigh the various risks (medical, economic, educational) for each individual family instead of letting them make their own decisions.
Ironically, for a Democrat who is supposed to represent the will of his constituents instead of an iron-handed dictator reminiscent of the Republican Trump administration, his actions over the last two years have more resembled the latter than the former.
Some families are in no financial position to keep their kids home. The “financial support” that Dinowitz calls for is inadequate when it does come, and its further existence is itself not a certainty. Some families who are in low-risk situations might view the disastrous educational outcomes that took place via remote learning through March through June and decide that the potential risk of sending their kids to school is vastly outweighed by the certain educational and economic devastation that will occur by requiring remote learning for everyone.
There are no perfect answers here, so allowing families to choose what works for them is a necessity as we all try to navigate a world with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.
I ask the Assemblyman to refrain from further conducting himself as if we elected him to put forth his own opinions, even when they diverge from ours. He was elected to represent the will of his constituents, and in both last year’s vaccine bill and his current stance on remote-only learning, his opinions differ widely from a large swath of the population.
It is our wishes and our decisions that he should be working to empower, not his own.