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Dist. 29 council educates parents on children’s school life

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"We, as a community, have to do things to support our own children," Council Vice President John Tillman said. The council, comprised of area parents, replaced the school board last year under city educational reforms and assumed responsibility for an area that includes Queens Village, Cambria Heights, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and parts of Jamaica and Fresh Meadows.The council's day-long workshop, held at IS 109 in Queens Village, was designed to educate parents about interpreting their children's scores on standardized tests, making sense of new teaching methods for math, working with principals and navigating the city Education Department's Web site. Despite alerting parent teacher associations, distributing fliers, sending out e-mails and offering day-care service, the turnout of 60 people showed that getting the community involved remains a challenge."We're still working on that," Tillman said. "I really don't know. If I knew the answer to that, I would be a genius."Nevertheless, the parents who showed up on a day normally reserved for chores were eager to learn."Saturdays are tough, but you got to think I'm making an investment in my child," said Janet Johnson of Jamaica, the mother of a seventh-grader at IS 59 in Springfield Gardens and a fourth-grader at PS 36 in Jamaica. "Housework is always going to be there."During the training session on working with principals, Gloria Johnson, a union chapter chairwoman and teacher at Rosedale's PS 270, also urged parent involvement."If your child sees you are interested, then they will do more," she said. She also asked parents to address complaints directly to teachers or principals and not in front of their children. "If you have a concern, do not let it fester." The next meeting of SD 29, scheduled for this week at PS 270, was to focus on zoning. Council members said they would discuss how to alleviate overcrowding, particularly in middle schools, and make sure future students are evenly distributed. Zoning for a new K-8 school planned for Queens Village was also to be examined."The biggest thing right now is to reduce the class sizes," Tillman said. "Right now our schools are busting at the seams."Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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