DEP shouldn't sell

preserved Millville land

For over 54 years, Green Acres has been one of the state's most popular and trusted programs, preserving hundreds of thousands of acres from High Point to Cape May. These lands belong to the public - New Jersey citizens who have voted time and again to fund Green Acres parks, forests and trails.

But this public trust is now in danger of being eroded, as the state weighs a proposal to sell off 80 acres of preserved land in Millville, so it can be developed for industrial use.

At a recent public hearing in Trenton, citizens lined up to urge the Department of Environmental Protection to reject its proposed "diversion" of the property, which is part of the state's Menantico Ponds Wildlife Management Area. Troubling questions were raised: Is the public trust being violated, and is the Green Acres Program losing sight of its mission to protect land in perpetuity?

The state DEP bought the former Durand Glass property in July 2013 because of its natural assets: forested wildlife habitat, the pristine headwaters of two rivers and its location adjacent to thousands of acres of preserved lands.

But the city of Millville cried foul, claiming it didn't know about plans to preserve the land and had wanted to use it for economic development. Lawsuits were filed. Incredibly, the Green Acres program capitulated and has proposed removing the 80 acres from the wildlife management area and selling them for speculative development.

If this diversion is allowed, it would set a devastating precedent. What would prevent other towns in a financial pinch from seeking to sell off preserved lands for commercial use? Could any park or natural area be considered fair game?

Please tell the state it would be a breach of the public trust to "un-preserve" this land. Send written comments to the DEP by Jan. 20. Comments should be addressed to: Judeth Piccinini Yeany, NJDEP Green Acres Program, Mail Code 501-01, P.O. Box 420, Trenton, NJ 08625-0420. Or you can email comments to Judeth.Yeany@dep.nj.gov.

MICHELE S. BYERS

Executive Director

New Jersey Conservation Foundation

Far Hills

Don't judge Muslims

by actions of a few

Regarding the Jan. 12 letter, "Islamic terrorists deserve to be hanged":

I hate to break the news to the letter writer, but this is called "genocide" and has never really worked out all that well any time it's been tried.

An ex co-worker of mine is a Muslim from Pakistan. She is one of the sweetest, most loving people I know. Should she have been denied entry back into the country after she visited home last year? Use your brain and think before you condemn an entire people because of the actions of a few. Radicals exist in all countries and walks of life, including our own.

CHRIS GROFF

Galloway Township

ACHS East Campus

showed racial inequalities

The recent closure of the Atlantic City High School East Campus, the district's alternative high school, presents an overdue opportunity to eliminate racial inequalities and ensure that all students have access to the same educational opportunities.

For years, East Campus has operated as a segregated school, with virtually no white students; the district's regular public school is over 20 percent white. Parents report that their children were sent to East Campus for minor infractions without the due process protections required by law. Some students say they were sent directly to East Campus after leaving juvenile delinquency placements, with no opportunity to show that they were ready to return to a traditional school setting.

These practices raise serious questions about the district's compliance with federal and state law.

The experiences of East Campus students are not unique. The U.S. Department of Education has found that across the country, school disciplinary practices tend to have a discriminatory impact on students of color, who are often suspended or expelled for non-violent and minor misconduct, while white peers engaging in similar behavior remain in school.

We urge the district to use this time of transition to rethink its approach to discipline. Relying heavily on exclusionary discipline, such as expulsions and suspensions, invites segregation and impedes academic progress while doing little to promote school safety. Students do better when schools provide clear and consistent expectations, backed up by developmentally appropriate and proportional consequences. The district should foster a positive school climate by providing support services to address the underlying causes of behavior problems. Exclusionary discipline should be used only as a last resort and with careful due process protections.

In addition, the district should release data on school demographics and racial disparities in school discipline –– which it is required to collect under federal law –– so that the community may examine whether school disciplinary policies are being applied fairly.

As the district brings the East Campus era to a close, it should prioritize reintegration of East Campus students with their peers and develop new supports that will allow all of its students to thrive.

MARSHA LEVICK

Deputy Director

Juvenile Law Center

Philadelphia

BRENDA SHUM

Director

Lawyers' Committee

for Civil Rights Under Law

Philadelphia

Luck finally runs out

for Cowboys, Christie

Regarding the Dallas Cowboys' loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday:

The Cowboys got into the playoffs on a disputed call, so it only seems fitting to me that they got bumped out of the playoffs on another questionable call.

By the way, I saw Gov. Chris Christie had a heavy overcoat on top of his lucky orange sweater and didn't have anyone to high-five him. Cold up there, guv?

Go Eagles.

JEWELL CRADDOCK

Somers Point

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