BY JON CRONIN
New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña answered questions and gave updates last Thursday to School District 24 on the district’s curriculum and overcrowded schools.
Fariña said she believes the state Department of Education failed teachers years ago when Common Core standards were implemented, and that teachers should have been better educated regarding the standards and how to teach them.
She stated that, today, the city is ahead of the rest of the state in making sure that students are prepared for Common Core testing. Fariña added that the city’s Department of Education (DOE) has negotiated with the United Federation of Teachers to get 80 minutes of professional-development time for teachers every Monday.
Fariña was asked how the DOE could help School District 24 students with disabilities, who have shown little growth on state English and math exams.
“First and foremost, I think the scores have gone up, but I think we want more,” Fariña said
She emphasized the success of classrooms with Integrated Co-teaching (ICT), which includes a general classroom teacher and special-education teacher in the same room.
“They should be learning from the same curriculum,” she said, adding that general education and special- education students shouldn’t be separated. “I want to see ICT classrooms across the board.”
She noted that teachers in ICT classrooms need more training, and the feedback that she receives from educators reflects this.
The chancellor was also asked how to bring Gifted and Talented programs to schools in Elmhurst. She responded that she is encouraging schools to train more teachers to teach enrichment programs. As a former Gifted and Talented teacher, she said that she focused on group activities and presentation of group projects.
“One of the things our kids need more help in is how to be social human beings,” Fariña said. “What I mean is—it’s not all about you; it’s how you work in a group.”
Christina Furlong, a district parent and civic activist, asked the chancellor what she is doing to aid overcrowded schools in the district, some of which are at 150 percent capacity.
Fariña said that her team looks at individual schools and “some people have different definitions of what overcrowding is.” She added that she researches whether each school is making adequate use of its space.
“When I walk a building, I look to see how many rooms are being used for offices versus classrooms,” she said.
Fariña added that when she was a principal, she aimed for 31 students per classroom, which enabled more support for each student.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.