Tag Archives: Pan American International High School

Jackson Heights, Elmhurst district schools to receive $2.4M in funding

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


One local elected official is reaching out to help a handful of schools in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst continue to shine.

Councilman Daniel Dromm, who is the chair of the City Council’s education committee, announced on Monday that he has allocated a total of $2.4 million for schools in his district for the upcoming fiscal year.

The money will go toward improvements including security camera installations, electrical wiring replacements, audio/visual system enhancement, library upgrades, and repairs to school PA systems and playgrounds.

“Securing this historic increase in funding was a top priority for me,” said Dromm, who is a former New York City public school teacher for 25 years. “Our kids get one chance at a quality education. I’m doing everything I can to support our public schools. These funds will ensure that our children have access to safe schools and the updated technology they need to be successful.”

The schools that have received a portion of the funding include Public Schools 7, 13, 23, 69, 89, 102, 148, 149, 211, 212, 255 and 280; Intermediate Schools 230, 145, and 5; Pan American International High School, John F. Kennedy Jr. High School, Newtown High School, and the International High School for Health Sciences.


Majority of Queens schools score well on progress reports

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The majority of Queens schools scored high on the Department of Education’s (DOE) recently released progress reports.

Out of the 62 Queens high schools that were issued 2012-2013 progress reports, 31 earned As, 16 Bs, 6 Cs, 5 Ds and 4 Fs.

The highest scoring institution was Long Island City’s Academy for Careers in Television and Film, which just moved into a new building at the beginning of this school year. It received an overall score of 100.9.

Flushing High School, Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School in Far Rockaway and August Martin High School in Jamaica earned overall failing grades.

Progress reports were issued for 239 Queens elementary and middle schools. Fifty-eight of them earned As, 97 Bs, 74 Cs, nine Ds and only one, Springfield Gardens’ Community Voices Middle School, failed.

Waterside School for Leadership in Rockaway was the highest ranking Queens middle school, with an overall score of 90.3, and P.S. 203 Oakland Gardens was the top-rated elementary school in the borough, with an overall score of 86.5.

Across the city, the DOE found public school performance “remained consistent, with 87 percent of schools maintaining their grade or moving one grade compared to last year.”

The reports are based on students’ progress, performance, attendance and surveys of parents, students and teachers. High school progress reports also measure college and career readiness.

According to the DOE, more students are graduating from high school ready for college and careers.

The reports found that the four-year college readiness rate is up nearly 3 points since last year.

“The most important job of our schools is ensuring students are on track to succeed in college and their careers,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “These results are further evidence that the hard work of our teachers and principals is paying off.”

This year’s school progress reports were the last ones issued during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure.

They could see some changes when they are issued under the Bill de Blasio administration.

“While Mayor-elect de Blasio supports making overall school progress reports available to parents, he would eliminate letter grades of schools which offer little real insight to parents and are not a reliable indicator of how schools are actually performing,” his spokesperson Lis Smith said.

To find a specific school’s progress report, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ProgressReport.



Three file racial discrimination claim against Elmhurst principal

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Devin Lightner

Alleged racist comments by an Elmhurst principal have left three teachers without jobs, with one deciding to leave the education system for good.

Lisa-Erika James, a tenured theater teacher, Heather Hightower, an ESL-science teacher, and John Flanagan, a Spanish teacher from Pan American International High School have filed a discrimination claim with the Department of Education (DOE)’s Office of Equal Opportunity against Principal Minerva Zanca.

According to details released by Assistant Principal Anthony Riccardo — who is also filing a harassment claim against Zanca — the principal allegedly referred to Hightower as looking like a “gorilla in a sweater” and having “nappy hair” and said Flanagan had “big lips” during post-observation conferences this past school year.
Riccardo also said that in various cases, Zanca insisted on giving both teachers unsatisfactory grades before observing class lessons.

“This whole experience has made me question whether or not I want to stay in a system that is designed to treat people with such malicious intent,” said Riccardo. “I am completely sickened by the unethical behavior my fellow colleague has displayed and I believe this to be a truly sad time to be an administrator in a NYC public school.”

According to Flanagan’s complaint, while there are eight untenured teachers out of a total of 27, both he and Hightower are the only African American untenured teachers. The complaint also states Flanagan and Hightower were the only ones that Zanca did not recommended for tenure.

“Just how you [the DOE] are very critical with teachers in New York City, you have to be with administrators,” said Kevin Powell, president of BK Nation, a non-profit organization that is working with the teachers on this case. “No form of discrimination should be allowed. They’re not activists — they’re teachers. They didn’t want to be in this. They had to say something.”

According to Powell, Hightower has decided to completely leave teaching and will pursue another career path.

“The most egregious act is that [Zanca] is allowed to run a school where many of the children are of Afro-Latino descent,” James said in her complaint. “And her hurtful racial epithets have been thrown around with no recourse or consequences.”

James said she was hired to create a theater program for the high school by former principal Marcella Barros, but alleges the program was then cut by Zanca because she is African American.

“It is abundantly clear that Mrs. Zanca has done everything in her power to get rid of every African American teacher on this staff,” said James.

The teachers, along with Powell and other supporters, rallied in front of the DOE on July 8 to call for authorities to investigate the case. A petition on www.change.org to fire Zanca had gathered 1,332 signatures as of press time.

Zanca could not be reached and it was unclear as of press time whether she had acquired legal representation.

The DOE said the complaints are under investigation.



Queens schools score on DOE progress reports

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Students at The Academy of Finance and Enterprise spend the last two periods of the day participating in a “virtual enterprise,” trading stocks and being the CEO of their own company.

Queens high schools can hang their good report cards on the fridge.

This year, according to the Department of Education’s (DOE) annual high school progress report, 19 high schools in Queens received the coveted “A” letter grade, and there were no failing schools in the borough.

The annual report awards public high schools letter grades from “A” to “F” based on student progress toward graduation, performance on standardized tests and coursework and student attendance. They also take into account surveys from parents, students and teachers about their schools and the academic progress made with students with disabilities.

New this year, the report measures how many students in each high school perform well in advanced courses and go on to enroll in college, as well as the progress and graduation rates of black and Latino male students.

The Academy of Finance and Enterprise in Long Island City scored the highest in the borough with a grade of 89.5 percent. The top scoring grade places the school in the top 98.5 percentile of all surveyed high schools in the city.

“This couldn’t have happened if the teachers, staff and students didn’t come together to make sure they succeed,” said Assistant Principal Victoria Armano. “We are a caring community who treats all our children with respect. We provide them with extra support. We want them to get their diploma and go beyond.”
Student Sylwia Baj is not surprised at her school’s success. The senior said her school has done a good job preparing her for the real world.

“For juniors specifically, the school strives to prepare us for the SATs. There are a lot of extra opportunities for us to get help in school,” she said.
Still, not all schools made the grade.

The Law, Government and Community Service High School in Cambria Heights was the lowest scoring school, with an overall total score of 40.9 percent. The school received a “D” and falls in the bottom 6.7 percentile of city high schools.

“It’s not really surprising,” said Malik, a senior who is transferring out of the school. “I feel like the teachers could work a little bit harder with the kids. I don’t think they show us enough attention. They let us do a lot of other stuff in class instead of work. I’m not coming back.”
Students from Humanities and the Arts High School — who share the same Campus Magnet High School building with students from Law and Government — said the score was expected.

“They don’t do any work. They don’t go to class. They stay in the hallway all the time,” said Malcolm, a senior at Humanities and the Arts. “There are also a lot of fights. It’s pretty obvious that it’s not a good school, and once you go to the school, you find out it’s horrible.”
Officials from the high school declined to comment.

Among the other five schools that received a “D” are Flushing High School, Richmond Hill High School, August Martin High School in Jamaica, Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village and Pan American International High School in Elmhurst.

According to data from the DOE, of the 54 high schools surveyed this year, 16 high schools in Queens earned a “B” and 13 received a “C.”
For more information or to find a specific school’s progress report, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ProgressReport.