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Best elementary schools in Queens named in book

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Parents shopping around for an elementary school for their children should look no further than their local bookstore for help and guidance.

A revised version of a book outlining the best of public elementary schools in Queens and throughout the city was set to hit stores next month, giving parents an insider’s view of classrooms from Little Neck to Middle Village and Springfield Gardens.

The second edition of “New York City’s Best Public Elementary Schools: A Parent’s Guide,” by Clara Hemphill, profiles 35 schools in Queens, including 12 in Bayside’s high-scoring School District 26 and seven in School District 28 in Forest Hills. Overall the book outlines more than 100 schools in the five boroughs, but it does not rate schools from best to worst.

The book focuses on the positives, educating parents about how each school and each district works, from classroom instruction to the interior decor of each school.

The nearly 300-page tome does not sugar-coat the negative aspects of the borough’s educational environment — including severe school overcrowding throughout Queens and what the author describes as racial and class divisions in some school districts. But it does not focus on the deficiencies either.

“We tried to make the guide useful to all parents in the city, not just those living in the richest neighborhoods: You don’t have to live on Park Avenue to get a good education for your child,” the author writes in the book’s introduction.

While the book highlights more schools in Districts 26 in Bayside and 28 in Jamaica as well as Forest Hills than in any other Queens district, it does not ignore other parts of the borough. School District 24 in Glendale, School District 29 in Rosedale, School District 27 in Ozone Park and School District 30 in Jackson Heights are represented by three schools each, while the authors chose four schools to profile from District 25 in Flushing.

There also seems to be a healthy respect for the ethnic variety in Queens, as the author and her researchers often refer to the most ethnically diverse borough in the nation.

“There are schools in Queens where 40 languages are spoken,” they write. “Children learn about the Chinese New Year and Ramadan, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa — not from a book, but from other children’s celebrations. Children learn respect and tolerance for others that serve them well whatever they do.”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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