Frustrated parents from city Education District 25 lambasted the city and state for considering substantial funding cuts and pleaded with politicians in attendance to put more power in their hands at a legislative breakfast Friday morning.
Budget issues, over−testing and parental control within the school system were the most fiery topics of discussion at IS 25 in Auburndale, where incumbent Sen. Frank Padavan (R−Bellerose) and Sen. Toby Stavisky (D−Whitestone) and City Councilman John Liu (D−Flushing) listened as dozens of Community Education Council members and parent leaders from District 25 voiced their concerns on the upcoming year.
“We’re cut to the bone,” said Jane Reiff, president of the District 25 Community Education Council. The district covers schools in Flushing, College Point, Whitestone, Auburndale and parts of Fresh Meadows.
Reiff said cuts in funding to District 25 schools have already taken their toll in recent years and she believes hundreds of millions of dollars in proposed city and state cuts could be backbreaking.
Stavisky, a former teacher who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee, said she would fight to reduce the cuts, but stressed the severity of the state’s deficit.
“We’re going to do the best we can in terms of the budget,” Stavisky said. “But this is a very serious situation we have.”
Padavan, by contrast, said he believes more can be done to reduce spending from within the state, including the Department of Education.
“We have this deficit,” he said. “But the last thing we should do is deal with it in a state of panic. I do not believe it is as bad as it is being made out to be.”
Parents at the meeting also lamented mayoral control of the schools, which expires in June, and has led to less involvement and power for parents and increased emphasis on testing.
“I feel that parents have been so marginalized,” said Carol Zagorsky. “They don’t want to hear us, they don’t want to see us. The way it’s set up we’re the least important.”
Both Padavan and Stavisky sympathized and expressed their support for ending control of city schools by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“The city has really just gone hog wild with testing,” Padavan said. “All they’re worried about is their system of evaluation and nobody understands it.”
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.
©2009 Community News Group
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