By Jon Cronin
At a Town Hall in Maspeth hosted by District 24, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña answered questions regarding breakfast at school, parent involvement, and the Common Core curriculum.
Fariña said that the state has “retooled” a task force on Common Core curriculum and announced, “We’re way ahead with the rest of the state in this area.” She believes, “the implementations suck,” when it comes to Common Core.
Fariña said, “Students who are new to the country, for two years, will not have to take state tests,” she said the federal government announced recently. “That is a big big difference,” she noted. She added that students will still be taught with a sense of urgency “It means we won’t be holding students and teachers accountable in a way that’s not logical.”
Farina noted, at the panel held at PS 58, that Superintendent Madeline Taub-Chan was picked to be part her Chancellor Fellows, a kind of advisory committee for the chancellor, where Chan will become “a kind of expert on overcrowding,” said Fariña.
Regarding the overcrowding in District 24, Fariña said, “We can’t make magic happen overnight,” and “even with the overcrowding you have some phenomenal phenomenal schools.”
There will be an addition coming to PS 143 that will require the temporary re-sitting of some students for the next three years which will start at the beginning of the 2016 school year, she said. PS 19 will also see an addition in the next school year. The new construction will replace trailers at both sites.
When asked about the new implementation of breakfast during morning class time at elementary schools and whether it takes away from lessons, Fariña said she believes it could be included seen as part of daily lessons. “Many of our students do not know, what I call ‘dinner time conversation’,” said Fariña. She believes ESL teachers could use this as an opportunity to help students develop the language skills and she suggested to principals that those 15 minutes of meal time be part of the common core learning of social conversation.
“No one should come to school without having had breakfast,” adding, “with all inconveniences, it’s still the way to go,” Fariña concluded.
Sol Concepcion, a CEC 24 member asked, “Can we find funding for after school programs for K-3?” Farina said she believes that age is “too young” to stay after school. She noted that a licensed program day care program could take up residence in the room of a school.
Fariña was also asked why the free lunch program is not extended to all the grades to remove the stigma of a free lunch. She said studies have shown that students “watch each other” most upon entering adolescence and that is why lunch is free for everyone, not just those in need, in seventh and eighth grade.
The Chancellor was also asked how parents could be helped when overwhelmed with advocating for their child’s special education services. She said that they are training parent coordinators to be the first person parents should go to in times of such need. She noted there should also be someone in each school to answer those questions as well as at the district level.
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin