At a recent meeting of the Queens Civic Congress, scores of civic leaders talked with Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott about the restructuring of the education system of New York City. Walcotts job is to oversee the education system. He has a vested interest in a good education system because he lives in southeast Queens and his children attend local public schools.
Many Queens civic leaders were present. Some were active in the community school boards and local schools in top-scoring Districts 25 and 26. The civics were concerned with the new position of parent coordinator in each school. The parent coordinators are being picked by the principal and will be paid a salary of about $30,000 to $40,000 each.
People said that this position is unnecessary and will cost the system about $50 million a year. These two districts have very active parent associations, and parents feel comfortable with the current system. In response to how this position could be eliminated in a school, Walcott indicated that the regional superintendent would decide the need for a parent coordinator.
It is interesting that some civic leaders criticized the reorganization as centralization. Several decades ago the school system was decentralized so school leaders could be closer to the schools and the parents. Walcott emphasized that the mayor is making changes in the school system and that changes should be visible in two or three years.
For years people have asked for reform of the schools system. The names and the structure have been changed, but the basic social, cultural and economic problems still exist. It seems there is a four-year graduation rate of 50 percent in the current system, with perhaps another 10 percent graduating after five years. There are some children who never learn to read. Why?
On the other hand, in Districts 25 and 26 in Queens, there can be passing rates of 90 percent. We have middle-class families whose parents are often educated or believe in education, so they encourage their children to go to class, be respectful to the teacher, listen, take notes, do homework, study and do assigned reports so they pass tests and achieve. There are such families and children throughout New York City, but here in Queens they are so concentrated that people want to live here and attend our schools.
One has to remember that many children achieve in our schools. Many schools are peaceful places where children can learn and teachers can instruct quietly, but many schools need help and can only be successful if there are smaller classes, supplies and equipment. But this costs a lot of money.
Good news of the week
The Iraq war was won rapidly. We now have the problem of setting up a government the people will respect. It seems that in the state of Alaska some of the oil money is returned directly to the people. In Nigeria there is unrest due to corruption and the waste of the oil money.
The people live there in poverty. We should set up a system and start giving some of the Iraq oil money directly to the people. This will demonstrate that we are fair and actually want to help the people and not build huge palaces the way the last leader of Iraq did.
Bad news of the week
Reports are out that again show that lawsuits against New York City are costing us millions of dollars. People fall on broken sidewalks and then sue the city. People feel they were treated badly in public hospitals so they sue for medical malpractice. I hope the mayor can cut down on cases and the awards given by juries. We need the money for more important social services.
©2003 Community News Group
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