Former President Bush’s Passing Signals End of an Era

By J. Manuel Rivera Cortes

President Bush pictured in 1992. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“The man served his country for over 40 years. He wasn’t the best president, but he served our country well,” said sophomore Orlando Green, a sociology major, regarding the passing of President George Herbert Walker Bush. On Nov. 30, 2018, the 41st president of the United States passed away at the age of 94, but his legacy still lives on.  

The patriarch of his family, Bush dedicated over 40 years of his life to public service. He stepped into the political field when he ran for U.S. Senate in 1964. Narrowly defeated by Democrat Ralph Yarborough, he went on to serve as U.S. ambassador to China as well as director of the CIA before being elected President in 1988. He was the first Vice President in 152 years to be elected president. “Freedom is at the very heart of the idea that is America. Giving life to the idea depends on every one of us,” Bush said in his 1990 State of the Union Address. 

During operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Bush deployed U.S. forces into Saudi Arabia to help expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait during the start of the Gulf War.  

Joye Decker, a junior in an adult degree program student said, “I remember the Gulf war on television when I was a kid. It’s a black eye in our history.”  

Bush’s death surprised many Lehman students who were familiar with both his administration and his influence on today’s political landscape. “When I heard the news, I was shocked.  It wasn’t that long [ago] that Barbara had died,” said Lehman junior, Joanna Rosario.  

Others viewed his passing as a blessing for Bush since he suffered many ailments in his advanced age. After the death of his wife, he suffered a blood infection that led to sepsis. 

“He’s finally at rest,” said CUNY Office Assistant, Crystal Jackson. “He seemed so fragile after his wife died.”

CUNY $6M Grant Will Help Revamp Lehman’s Child Care Center

By Perla Tolentino

One of the playgrounds available by Lehman’s gate 3 entrance in front of Goulden Avenue. Photo by Perla Tolentino.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded CUNY a $6 million grant exclusively for child care centers. Lehman, Brooklyn, Baruch, Bronx Community, Kingsborough, and LaGuardia colleges were announced as recipients of the grant on Oct. 22, 2018. According to CUNY news outlets, LaGuardia will increase their enrollment capacities in 2019 to 263 and offer emotional and mental health resources for parents, and Kingsborough Community College plans to lower its childcare rate to as low as $1 per week for parents who attend classes. 

Lehman staff and student parents had many suggestions for how to use the funds at Lehman’s childcare center, which currently has six classrooms, two outside playgrounds, and a multipurpose room for gross motor play, after-school activities and celebrations. “I believe the funds should be used to create new programs including arts, crafts and music. They should reinforce the children’s food menu and library and also expand the playgrounds or invest in outside trips,” said Lisette Ventura, a 35-year-old mother and junior Spanish major at Lehman.

The center currently serves children between ages of two and nine years old and offers speech and hearing counseling, as well as education workshops focusing on behavior management and child development. The center also has a Pre-K program that offers full day classes to four-year-old children, funded by the New York City Department of Education. The goal of the program is to help with kindergarten preparation utilizing New York State Core Learning standards.

Another use of the grant money would be to pay for longer hours at the childcare center. Bronx Community College now plans to extend their hours from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., according to AM New York. However, Jaci Maurer, director of Lehman’s childcare center, questioned this choice. “Leaving from the campus so late at night may be convenient for the students, but is it for the children?” she inquired. “We advertise to be open until 9 p.m., but in some cases until 9:30 p.m. I believe that’s enough.” 

Later hours would help Martha Vergara, a Lehman sophomore and social work major who has a 9-year-old son. She explained that “balancing school and parenting is very hard for the both of us.” She was unaware that Lehman’s childcare center was open until 9:30 p.m.  “What I’m doing this semester is leaving my son in the cafeteria until I finish my class.”

Lehman’s child care center. Photo by Perla Tolentino.

Maurer believes that there are more urgent needs than schedule changes, and that parents have been surveyed about their priorities. “Our focus is to support staff members and parents,” she explained. “Social work and family training are some of the resources we will most likely invest in, which will alleviate the financial burden of the parents, as well as their busy life. Our goal is to help families stay in school.”

According to a care.com survey from July 17, 2018, the cost of childcare is increasing every year, leaving only 30 percent of American families able to afford it. This research also revealed that 63 percent of parents agree that the cost of childcare can affect their career decisions. 

In the Bronx, where US Census Bureau shows that the median family income is $36,593 per year with a poverty rate of 28 percent, parents struggle to afford childcare needs. To help lower-income parents at Lehman, the childcare center works with the Federal Block Grant which helps students afford child care expenses based on their income level. 

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for these students who are thriving through college and taking care of their children as well,” said Maurer.