District 27 hopefuls want education changes

Manny Caughman (clockwise from top l.), Joan Flowers, Greg Mays, Daneek Miller, Sondra Peeden and Clyde Vanel are in a race to succeed City Councilman Leroy Comrie in southeast Queens. Photos courtesy candidates
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When asked which city agency most needed to mend its relationship with their community, candidates in the race to succeed City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said they would set their sights on the city Department of Education and the NYPD.

There are six Council hopefuls on the ballot for the Sept. 10 Democratic primary to take over where Comrie, who will be term limited at the end of the year, leaves off.

Manny Caughman, a community liaison in state Assemblyman William Scarborough’s (D-Jamaica) office, said he proposed a “back to basics” approach of working with the DOE to shift the focus away from high-stakes testing.

“The relationship needs to change because we cannot tolerate a tradition of underachieving and failing African-American students. That is completely unacceptab­le,” he said.

Greg Mays, a Community Board 12 member and president of the nonprofit A Greater Jamaica, said he would focus his attention on bringing back community policing in an effort to rebuild relations with the Police Department.

“Stop and frisk has done considerable damage to this relationship and this damage must be repaired if we are to build a safer community,” he said. “The police rely on the community for information to help them solve crime that the community would like to see solved. Community policing — cops on a beat instead of in cars — would go a long way toward repairing this relationsh­ip.”

I. Daneek Miller, president of the Queens chapter of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said he would work to make sure local community schools were destinations where parents wanted to send their children.

“Rather than support and resource every neighborhood school to become a ‘destination’ education center, the DOE diverts resources to closing and co-locating schools, maintains a bloated bureaucracy and a focus on structure,” he said. “Instead, we need to focus [resources] on teaching and learning and support services at each community elementary school, middle school and high school.”

He added, “By working in coalition with like-minded colleagues, community and parent activists and education professionals, I will look to use the City Council’s budget [approval] power and legislative oversight to effect the necessary changes at the Department of Education.”

Sondra Peeden, a management consultant who has worked in a number of Queens lawmakers’ offices, said the low scores on the new state English and math tests showed southeast Queens schools have a long way to go before they are up to the community’s standards.

“The scores reported for southeast Queens schools were abysmal and we need to immediately devote financial and intellectual resources to enhance the overall curriculum, which focuses on strengthening math, science and ELA skills at all levels,” she said. “As the next Council member, I will work with the mayor and chancellor to revise funding patterns with an emphasis on teacher training, classroom resources and enrichment and remedial programs for our students.”

Intellectual property attorney Clyde Vanel said “the community and parents must have meaningful participation when it comes to school closures, co-location and the use of the school building.”

A spokesman for attorney Joan Flowers said she would look to end the department’s use of outside contractors and put that money back into classrooms.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 12:00 am, August 30, 2013
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Reader feedback

Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
Let's see, Councilman Leroy Comrie has been in office for twelve years and Jamaica has not really improved in all of that time, it fact is has gotten worse, so good riddance to him. Daneek Miller would not get my vote based on Comrie endorsing him, Manny Caughman is a clown backed by the extremely questionable PAC, "Jobs for New York, which is nothing but a group of powerful real estate developers trying to get puppet candidates in city council, plus they have nothing to do with jobs, affordable housing or the middle class. Speaks volumes about Manny. Joan Flowers is a very questionable figure associated with very corrupt Senator Malcolm Smith, she has already had her fair share of scandal. Mays and Vanel are the best bets for a different direction in Jamaica, if there is even such a thing anymore.
Aug. 30, 2013, 8:02 pm

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