Tag Archives: gifted and talented cuts

Schools Chancellor Walcott meets with parents over gifted and talented cuts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ana Musmat Alam

True to his word, Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor Dennis Walcott met with parents, teachers and elected officials from across School District 30 to talk about the proposed cuts to the prestigious gifted and talented program at P.S. 122.

“When families have a great experience in their school, we celebrate that and we appreciate the thoughtful way that parents at P.S. 122 approached this proposal,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia.

The meeting came after the concerned and outraged community members confronted Walcott at a Panel for Education Policy in Brooklyn on March 20, where he agreed to meet with them at a later date.

For over a month, the members have been getting together to speak out against the DOE’s plans to extend P.S. 122’s general education classes from fifth to eighth grade at the expense of fewer classes for the gifted and talented middle school program, The Academy.

“We are feeling optimistic that the DOE has heard that the District 30 community has not asked for and does not want a change to our balances and harmonious district structure,” said Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent. “At the end of it, we feel like we could not have laid our case out any better. Logic should dictate what they do now.”

According to Alexander, although Walcott did not say much at the meeting, he was apologetic in not contacting the community earlier, applauded the community’s advocacy and said he would get back to them within a week with some answers.

“The Chancellor listens – he did that at his meeting with P.S. 122 parents, as he does with school communities across the city. We will incorporate the feedback we received, and will ultimately make a decision that best balances equity and excellence for students in this district,” said Puglia.

Alexander hopes a decision will be made by April 17, when parents have to submit their ranking for gifted and talented schools for their children.

“Fix the rule, don’t fix the school,” said Alexander.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Schools Chancellor Walcott to meet with parents over gifted and talented cuts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Isaac Carmignani

After weeks protesting proposed cuts to the gifted and talented program at P.S. 122, the voices of the parents in District 30 have finally been heard by Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

The parents, along with other concerned and outraged school and community members, confronted Walcott at a Panel for Education Policy meeting in Brooklyn on Wednesday night, March 20, where the chancellor agreed to meet with them at a later date to go over the changes.

“We are feeling cautiously optimistic, given the chancellor’s previous thoughtful interactions with parents from District 30,” said Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent whose son, Augustus, is set to attend the prestigious program in middle school. “A united community can really make a change.”

The group of District 30 parents has been getting together for over a month to speak against the Department of Education’s (DOE) plans to extend P.S. 122’s general education classes from the fifth to eighth grade, cutting down classes at the gifted and talented middle school program, The Academy.

“It’s just the first step, but we’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished and thrilled that the chancellor listened and heard us,” said Alexander.

In order to extend P.S. 122 into the eighth grade, by 2019 there will be room for only one class per grade in The Academy, down from the three to four classes offered now. These changes would go into effect in 2019 and would begin with this fall’s incoming kindergarten class.

The DOE has stated that the changes are required in order to allow each student the chance to stay in the same K-8 until they finish middle school.

The meeting between parents and the chancellor was confirmed by DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia, yet no date has been set.

“Chancellor Walcott and his team are very responsive and listen closely to feedback from families. We look forward to meeting with this community once again and articulating our rationale for this plan: equity and fairness for all students,” said Puglia in a statement.

Yet, worried the meeting will not bring negotiations, as the parents wait for the date to be announced they will be filing a petition with the State Education Commissioner.

“The day we can withdraw that petition because the DOE has heard the unified voice of District 30 will be a joyful day,” said Alexander.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Parents fight against gifted and talented cuts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Don’t fix what’s not broken.

That was the message echoed through P.S. 122’s auditorium on Wednesday, March 6, by concerned parents, school officials and local politicians looking to stop the gutting of the school’s prestigious gifted and talented classes.

The “emergency meeting,” which brought over 500 attendees, was organized by the school’s PTA in response to the Department of Education’s proposal last month to eliminate classes at the prestigious middle school program known as The Academy at P.S. 122. The cuts will happen in order to expand the general education population into the eighth grade.

“This is a meeting to show we’re united,” said Claudia Lieto-McKenna, co-president of the PTA. “It is our issue together.”
In order to extend P.S. 122 into the eighth grade, by 2019 there will be room for only one class per grade in The Academy, down from the three to four classes offered now.

“You’re not worried just about your kids, you are worried about everyone else’s kids,” said Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr. “We started this fight together and we’ll end it together.”

Two DOE representatives were present at the meeting to take down comments and concerns from the community, yet were met with a hostile reception from parents who felt their questions were being ignored and unanswered.

“We’re being bullied about our kid’s education,” said Nikos Kantzoglou, 47, a P.S. 122 parent. “We’re not going to stand for it.”

According to Lieto-McKenna, the reduction of classes at The Academy will result in the loss of the school’s art and music rooms, computer and science labs and library, as they will all be turned into classrooms. The overcrowding at the school will also cause lunch periods to begin as early as 9:30 a.m.

“We can never give up, to do so is to give up on our children,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

Along with parents and officials, P.S. 122 alumni were also in attendance, including a graduate from the class of 1939, and some made their voices heard on stopping the “attack” on their “model school.”

“I don’t like seeing this school being attacked,” said Linday James Soto, 20, who attended P.S. 122. “This school has helped me get where I am.” Soto also stood up during the meeting to express his anger to the DOE representatives, saying the proposal would turn the school into a “compulsory prison.”

Although negative uproars were heard in the auditorium, some speakers hoped to be able to work with the DOE to reach a plan that would benefit the community.

“We’ll work with you,” said Jeffrey Guyton of Community District Education Council 30 to the DOE representatives. “You will succeed beyond your wildest expectations.”

According to Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent, as of Friday, March 8, the District 30 Education Coalition has retained counsel and will be filing an injunction against the DOE.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES