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Parents, pols talk education at PS 206

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Nearly 100 parents, teachers and elected officials gathered over sausage and eggs last Thursday morning at Rego Park’s PS 206 to bring parents into the political fold of their children’s education.

Linda Glover, president of PS 206’s Parents Association, said she had attended many legislative brunches, found them inspiring and felt it was time to launch one from P.S. 206.

“My parents in this school never seem to understand what I’m talking about. They think that legislators are the next closest thing to God. They don’t understand they’re people you can talk to.”

Glover wants to shed light for parents on the political process, on legislation and on the active role they can have not only in their children’s education but on policy and law.

The morning’s brunch drew state Sen. Dan Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), state Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona), Councilman John Sabini (D-Jackson Heights), and Councilwoman Helen Marshall (D-Elmhurst).

Also in attendance were Carol Gresser, the former Queens representative for the Board of Education, who is running for borough president and Melinda Katz, an aide in the borough president’s office who is seeking the council seat of Morton Povman (D-Forest Hills).

Hevesi, surveying the auditorium brimming with politicians, turned to his left and told the schools’ chorus, “Kids, your school has the juice.”

Aubry, the keynote speaker, emphasized the election year and the importance of the political process. They were there, he said, to honor schools and education, “and an important part of honoring that process is by making political choice.” Elections in the city, he said, would “set the table for discussion about what happens with education in the future.”

New York City pays only $8,500 per child each year in education expenses, while the state average is $10,000, Aubrey said. Other areas in the state pay as much as $28,000, Aubry said, noting “we can’t educate on the cheap.”

He and other members of the Assembly are continuing to fight to uphold the landmark education decision made earlier this year by State Supreme Court Judge Leland DeGrasse.

In his ruling DeGrasse cited the state’s obligation to back pay New York City for underfunding its students and for failing to provide a “sound and basic” education.

Marshall told parents she and other members of the City Council had just passed the city budget.

“It was very painstaking because we have an administration that is not so friendly to public schools,” said Marshall, noting she and Sabini were able to stop vouchers for private schools and put the money back into the public schools.

But the legislators need to hear from the parents, too, Sabini said. He said if there is a noisy party or an issue with air pollution, or crime, his office receives numerous phone calls the following day.

But when it comes to education, “the number of calls I get in my district are in the single digits,” he said.

Reach reporter Jennifer Warren by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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