Addabbo, Farina Discuss Education Issues

Addabbo, Farina Discuss Education Issues

PHOTO: A week after discussing educational issues with State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. met with City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña about a variety of topics, including classroom overcrowding in his district. Photo Courtesy of Sen. Addabbo’s Office

By Forum Staff

State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) recently met with City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña about a variety of topics, including classroom overcrowding in his district, charter school placement, and Common Core testing.

Addabbo, whose district includes some of the most congested school districts in the city, said, “As the Chancellor acknowledged at the meeting, District 24 is the most overcrowded school district in the entire City of New York. Finding ways to ease overcrowding, which can sometimes be exacerbated by the placement of charter schools in existing public schools, is a very important issue for our communities and our school children.”

Fariña said that few charter schools are placed in Queens as a result of the existing school overcrowding, and that it is a top priority to build more schools in the borough. The difficulty arises in finding temporary school space where children can go to class while new buildings are being constructed, particularly in instances where pupils are already housed in portable temporary classroom units at the site of existing permanent schools. In this light, she cited the compromise that was reached with parents, local elected officials, and the community when the Department of Education was working to devise a plan for building a new future annex at the very overcrowded PS 119 in Glendale and a similar issue at PS 144 in Forest Hills. Fariña emphasized the importance of school design – making sure that space that could be used for classrooms is not wasted – and the possibility of encouraging affordable housing developers to include pre-kindergarten space in their buildings.

“Chancellor Farina seems to be making tremendous efforts to personally visit City schools and communicate effectively and frequently with education stakeholders in our communities,” said Addabbo, noting that the Schools chief has held 50 Town Hall meetings.  “With more than 50 years in the educational field – as a teacher, principal, superintendent, and deputy NYC schools chancellor – she seems to know all of the ins-and-outs of our entire complex educational system.  I particularly appreciated her statement that the most important role of the New York City Department of Education is to serve its clients – parents and kids.”

In addition to addressing school overcrowding issues, Fariña touched upon positive reforms that are being made to Common Core-related standardized tests, including reductions in the number of questions and giving students more time to complete the assessments. She also spoke about the importance of increasing technology in schools, efforts to expand Career Technical Education opportunities for students, and the need to support and advance professional development for teachers, principals and other educators. In addition, the Chancellor touched upon the need for neighborhood resources to assist children, citing the potentially positive impact of the new Rockaway YMCA on local students and their families and the possibilities it presents for beneficial collaboration with schools on the Peninsula.

Addabbo, who has two children currently attending a local public school, said he is encouraged by Fariña’s commitment to continuing open dialogues on educational issues affecting children, parents, and educators in Queens and around the City.

“I look forward to working with Chancellor Fariña, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, my legislative colleagues, and all of my constituents to provide every one of our students with the best possible opportunities to succeed both in school and in the future,” Addabbo added.


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