Schools Chancellor Fariña Visits CEC 27

BY LUIS GRONDA
Staff Writer

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña had her first meet-and-greet with Queens parents Monday night, discussing issues affecting children as the new schools boss gets the wheels turning on her new administration.

Fariña visited Community Education Council 27, which covers schools in Rockaway, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill, during its February meeting. The chancellor said she plans to visit every CEC in the City by June, a plan that she admitted was ambitious.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña discussed Dept. of Education plans during a visit to a Rockaway elementary school on Feb. 24. Photo by  luis gronda

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña discussed Dept. of Education plans during a visit to a Rockaway elementary school on Feb. 24. Photo by Luis Gronda

Once the Chancellor entered PS 333’s auditorium, many parents and CEC members greeted her with glee and excitement, asking her to pose for pictures or “selfies.”

One CEC member, Michael Duvalle, even greeted her before asking his question with a reference to a quote that caused some controversy during one of the many snowstorms last month.

“Good evening Chancellor, it’s a beautiful day outside,” Duvalle said, which drew much laughter from the audience and the Chancellor herself.

Fariña replied she probably will never say that again.

The CEC got right down to the issues with Fariña, questioning her on the Common Core, Pre-Kindergarten and more.

Regarding the Common Core, the plan was originally implemented “without too much thought,” she said, adding that teachers should not have to teach something they have not had enough time to be trained in and that will change in the future.

“We’re looking to see how those things are aligned in a more sensible way,” the Chancellor said.

Another aspect to that initiative, Fariña said, is students should be able to argue two different points of view, which is something that could be taught as early as kindergarten, according to the Chancellor.

“For example, we might want to ask the child ‘what’s better? To play in the playground or play in the classroom,’” she said.

Fariña added they will choose three demonstration sites in each borough so that principals in the City can get a look at how it will be implemented in the classroom.

When asked about Pre-Kindergarten, CEC 27 president Joshua Hirschman was concerned about having enough seats to fit every student. Fariña said not all the seats will be added to public schools and they will make sure the additions are “quality seats,” so that it will benefit the kids enrolling in the schools.

Parental involvement will be a central part of how she fixes the school system, Fariña said, encouraging parents to get more involved in how their kid is doing in school and keeping them informed. They will get started on that by hosting all-day parent conferences, one in each borough, in May and June this year. This will allow parents to learn about initiatives affecting their child, like Common Core, and to ask questions.

The Dept. of Education will also send out newsletters to parents and host workshops involving parents who are already play a big role in their community.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@queenstribune.com, or @luisgronda.