Tag Archives: gifted and talented program

Northern Queens parents gain no traction during meeting with BP Katz over school program


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Whitestone and Flushing parents were sent back to the drawing board after meeting with Borough President Melinda Katz to discuss their desire to create a gifted and talented program for middle schools in the northern and central Queens area.

Lisa Fusco and a growing number of parents are building a case for the creation of gifted and talented programs for middle schools in their district. During a meeting with Katz and education officials on Wednesday, the parents were told that the district’s superintendent was the only one with the power to extend the program from its limited elementary school reach to middle school.

“They’re giving us the run around,” Fusco said. “We’ve spoken to [Superintendent Danielle Di Mango] before and that hasn’t gotten us anywhere. We’ve tried everything else.”

Mango declined a request for comment.

Fusco’s fourth-grade daughter is enrolled in the gifted and talented program in P.S. 79 and — unlike in many other school districts — the program does not continue into middle school within District 25, which covers most of central and northern Queens. Neighboring districts 26 and 30 provide the program to students in middle school. More than 150 parents have signed a petition to bring the program into their middle schools in places like Flushing and Whitestone.

The gifted and talented programs are meant to provide extra services for students who show academic promise and get bored easily in a traditional classroom setting. Parents must sign up their children for tests to get into the program by November, and children are tested in January and February.

“We have made some real strides engaging community leaders,” Fusco said. “And we will continue to push for the program in our communities.”

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Whitestone and northern Queens residents push for expansion of school program


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Parents in Whitestone and Flushing are trying to give the city a new lesson plan.

Lisa Fusco, from Whitestone, and 150 parents in northern Queens signed a petition to the city Department of Eudcation demanding the creation of gifted and talented programs for the middle schools in their  district. Several of the parents are also meeting with Borough President Melinda Katz and Department of Education officials on Dec. 10 to discuss the issue.

District 25 is bordered by Flushing Meadows Park to the west and Bayside to the east, and it encompasses Pomonok to the south up to Whitestone and College Point.

The large area has six middle schools, but none of them have gifted and talented programs. For Fusco and others, that’s a problem.

“Our children are in the gifted and talented program in the elementary schools and we would like them to continue this wonderful program into middle school,” said Fusco, whose fourth-grade daughter is enrolled in the program in P.S. 79. “It would be such a shame if they had to stop this program.”

The gifted and talented programs are meant to provide extra services for students with a high aptitude who get bored easily in regular classes, according to the Department of Education. Parents must sign up their children for tests to get into the program by November, and children are tested in January and February.

While the program is usually meant for elementary schools, the group’s request isn’t unprecedented. School District 26, which runs along the border with Long Island, and District 30, Long Island City and Astoria, both have middle schools that offer the gifted and talented program.

“I don’t understand why the DOE lacks a citywide policy on [gifted and talented programs] and why it provides [gifted and talented] classes in one district and not another,” said Morris Altman, the president of the education council in District 25.

Justin Chang, from Whitestone, has two boys who are enrolled in the program at P.S. 79, and he worries about what his kids will do if there is no equivalent teaching method being used in the local middle schools.

“They are different and they need help in a different way,” Chang said. “I would just hope they consider opening the program for our district.”

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Outrage over fewer gifted and talented seats at Queens school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Deborah Alexander

As her son Augustus began kindergarten in the city’s gifted and talented program at Sunnyside’s P.S. 150, Deborah Alexander was excited at the thought he would eventually be enrolling in the prestigious middle school program known as The Academy at P.S.122 in Astoria.

Yet the excitement turned to concern as the Department of Education revealed its plan last week to cut down the number of classes at The Academy in order to expand P.S. 122’s general education population into the eighth grade.

“Tearing down a middle school program that was ranked number two in the state makes no sense,” said Alexander, who also has a two-year-old daughter zoned for P.S. 122.

Other outraged parents met with members of the DOE last Thursday night at P.S. 234 to voice their concerns. Although the parents hoped to get answers that night, they were left with more questions.

“They were treating us not even how we treat our children, it was insulting,” said Alexander who couldn’t hold back tears at the meeting. “I asked for a raise of hands of who was in support and not a single hand was raised.”

This announcement comes a month after the DOE unveiled a new gifted middle school that will open in fall 2013 at Long Island City’s I.S. 126 with seats for 60 students. Yet because of the cuts, students from P.S. 150, P.S. 166 in Long Island City and P.S. 217 in Roosevelt Island will all be competing for the 60 seats.

“They tried to say ‘look at what we gave you,’ but instead of adding the seats we asked for, they reduced them,” said Alexander.

The DOE has responded by telling parents that according to the DOE’s Chancellor’s Regulations, P.S. 122 is supposed to be a K-8 building, and rules have not been followed.

“It’s the department disrespecting the community. They went off and pissed off a community that was really, really happy,” said Isaac Carmignani, co-president of the District 30 Community Education Council.

According to Carmignani, this change will extend to all classes at P.S. 122 through eighth grade starting with this year’s incoming kindergarten. By 2019, there will only be room for one class per grade in The Academy, down from the three to four classes offered now.

Parents are afraid the expansion will overcrowd the school, create more lunch periods starting at 9 a.m., and cut science and math programs. They also worry the remaining classes at The Academy will go down in quality as fewer classes are offered.

“They are taking a school that is a model and destroying it in the process,” said Alexander. “This concern is for the community and the district as a whole, not just one school or population.”

Local politicians joined parents in opposition of cutting down classes at The Academy. “The problem is that they are going to be cutting the overall amount of G&T seats and that’s completely unacceptable,” said Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr. “Even with additional classes in other locations the seats in total have been cut down.”

Before any drastic changes take place, the community hopes to be able to work out an agreement with the DOE to keep the gifted and talented seats either at P.S. 122 or at another school.

“We as parents would love to work with the DOE to create a program to allow our students to receive the appropriate education for their personal learning needs,” said Karen Schumacher, whose daughter Magie is a first grader in the program at P.S. 150. “Let’s add, let’s expand, let’s not destroy.”

 

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Parents fume over dwindling gifted and talented program


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Expanding demand and dwindling supply of middle school gifted and talented seats in Long Island City have parents fuming over the possibility of their children getting dropped from the program.

Kids from P.S. 122 and P.S. 150 were previously promised seats through 8th grade, filtering into the middle school program at P.S. 122. In line with new gifted and talented programs across the city, the proposal for District 30 aims to increase the number of seats in the district by forcing students to retest after elementary school to determine if they should remain in the accelerated class.

“It’s not fair to just tell parents ‘OK well you’re going to have to retest in 5th grade and make all these kids compete with one another,’” said Isaac Carmignani, co-president of Community District Education Council 30. “That wasn’t what they were promised.”

According to a spokesperson from the Department of Education (DOE), the switch is to create a more equitable admissions process by allowing students who may not have performed well on the kindergarten exam to have a second chance in fifth grade.

The spokesperson said the number of gifted and talented students in District 30 is relatively small compared to other districts.

School District 30 currently has approximately 120 seats per grade for gifted and talented students. The new program, according to the DOE, will add 60 new seats.

“As with any competitive admissions process, the highest scoring students would have priority for placement in these programs,” said the DOE spokesperson. “Students would be placed in descending order based on the admissions criteria established for the program.”

Carmignani said parents fear that if their kids are removed from a gifted and talented program, they won’t be admitted into a top city high school and possibly a stellar college.

Melissa Lee, the parent of a kindergartner and a first grader in P.S. 166’s gifted and talented program, believes the DOE needs to provide a seat for every eligible student, regardless of when they apply for the program. Lee added that 40 percent of the gifted and talented students in the district are from ethnic minorities, something the city agency should give high importance to giving the recent reports illustrating that enrollment for minority students at top high schools is incredibly low.

“If the DOE is really trying to recruit more of these kids, why not nurture it now?” said Lee.

Parents want gifted middle school for Astoria


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

The parents of some of Queens’ sharpest young students are hoping the Department of Education (DOE) gives their children a “gift” — an advanced middle school program in western Queens.

Parents of P.S. 85 are distributing a petition in hopes of convincing the DOE to create a gifted and talented intermediate school in District 30 — similar to the Science, Technology, Enrichment and Math (S.T.E.M.) program currently housed within the elementary school, located at 23-70 31st Street in Astoria.

The S.T.E.M. program, which opened in 2009, is available to children across the city from kindergarten to fifth grade, unlike many of the other gifted and talented programs, which are kindergarten through eighth grade. Students hoping to be accepted into a citywide gifted and talented program must score in at least the 97th percentile, with the 90th percentile being the minimum for programs within their district.
Rebecca Bratspies, an Astoria resident whose five-year-old daughter is in the S.T.E.M. program, is fearful that the advanced education her child is receiving at P.S. 85 will cease after elementary school.

“This is a fabulous program,” Bratspies said. “I think it is essential for the children’s education and development. These students have special learning styles and educational needs, and they deserve to have these needs met. There is a history of gifted children acting out in class because they are bored and the education isn’t meeting their needs. Unfortunately, middle school is often forgotten. Lots of time and energy are put into elementary and high school, but middle school has fallen through the cracks, and it is one of the most important times for children developmentally.”

While Bratspies understands P.S. 85 is not large enough to support a middle school, she is hopeful the DOE can find another location to continue the program.

According to DOE spokesperson Frank Thomas, students in School District 30 can apply to any of the gifted and talented programs across the city, and they also have access to eight selective and screened middle schools in the immediate area.

“Students in gifted and talented elementary schools are served in a variety of ways by individual schools and districts all over the city, including selective and screened middle schools. That said, we always take feedback into account and want to ensure that every student has access to a great program,” Thomas said.

Although the district already has a gifted and talented middle school inside I.S. 122 in Long Island City, parents of P.S. 85 say there are not enough seats available for their children.

“There isn’t space for the kids from P.S. 85, and the program at I.S. 122 is only for kids from District 30 — but we have kids from all over,” Bratspies said. “So while it may be a solution for kids from District 30, the rest of the kids are out of luck.”

Tim Smith, a resident of Riverdale in the Bronx, is among the parents concerned about the limited accelerated educational options available to his child, a third grader in the S.T.E.M. program whose address makes him ineligible for admittance to I.S. 122.

“I’m extremely fearful that my son won’t be able to continue in a similar program,” said Smith. “The transition to middle school is tough as it is, so if the educational transition is tough as well, then a child could have an even harder time meeting his or her academic potential.”

Isaac Carmignani, the co-president of Community District Education Council 30 (CDEC 30), has been communicating with the DOE since January in hopes of creating a new citywide gifted and talented program in western Queens.
“Everybody is in agreement that we need a gifted and talented middle school for P.S. 85,” Carmignani said. “We have gifted and talented schools in District 30, but they are filled to capacity. There are options available, but there could be more.”

Carmignani says he has held discussions with the DOE about creating a gifted middle school program in I.S. 126 in Long Island City, and he is optimistic that a program will be established.

“We have hopes that we may get the program in I.S. 126 or somewhere else,” he said. “Putting a gifted and talented program in a school where we have room is far less controversial than some of the other ways the space could be used.”