Friday, February 23, 2018

PS 42 MS 53 Update - Queens Boro Pres Katz Joins PS 42 Battle, Pheffer-Amato battles for MS 53

Katz “requested the withdrawal of the proposal to close PS/MS 42 from the Panel For Educational Policy on Feb. 28.” Katz joined her colleagues in government—Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), state Sen. James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park), Assembly members Michele Titus (D-Far Rockaway) and Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach) and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica)—in their opposition to the closure... Queens Tribune
This is important in that Katz controls the PEP Queens vote. Now they only need 6 more votes. Stacey Amato Pheffer is also calling for the school to remain open - it is not in her district but IS 53 is and she issued a strong statement printed in The WAVE.




Katz Joins Fight Against MS 42 Closure

BY TRONE DOWD
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has come out in support of the faculty and parents of students at Arverne’s PS/MS 42 who are protesting the city’s proposed closure of the school.

In a letter obtained by sources familiar with the situation, Katz “requested the withdrawal of the proposal to close PS/MS 42 from the Panel For Educational Policy on Feb. 28.” Katz joined her colleagues in government—Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), state Sen. James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park), Assembly members Michele Titus (D-Far Rockaway) and Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach) and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica)—in their opposition to the closure.

“This school has made great strides to improve as part of the renewal schools program, and I believe we should afford them further time and our support to succeed,” Katz said in the letter. “At minimum, the item should be held over until we can further evaluate the progress the school is making as indicated by this year’s assessment. This will allow stakeholders additional time to share their concerns with the Department of Education.”

As previously reported by the Queens Tribune, the Rockaway school was one of 14 Renewal School closures proposed by the DOE in December, citing low performance on citywide test scores, stagnant graduation rates and the lack of college readiness among students, despite capital investments from the city. However, several teachers have pointed out that PS/MS 42 was included on that list, despite its steady improvement across the board over the past four years. This includes reduction in student suspensions, near-perfect faculty attendance and increased test scores. In fact, PS/MS 42 saw the highest growth in both ELA and math test scores from 2014 to 2017 out of all 20 Renewal Schools.

“If the DOE’s intention to close PS/MS 42 was because of low test scores, it is unsupported by the facts,” the letter stated.

On Feb. 8, members of United Federation of Teachers (UFT) took to Queens Borough Hall to protest the school’s closing, hoping to bring the borough president on board in their opposition. UFT Chapter Chairman John Krattinger told the Queens Tribune that the DOE was “completely out of line” with its decision. Teachers and parents have since met with the borough president’s office as well as attended a public hearing with the DOE in Manhattan.


https://www.rockawave.com/articles/official-point-of-view-82/

Official Point Of View 

The DOE has got it all wrong
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As some of you may know, the NYC Department of Education (DOE) announced in December that they plan on closing 14 schools- two of which are on the Rockaway Peninsula, PS/MS 42 and MS 53. Since becoming the assemblywoman for this community, I have been a strong advocate for education and have worked with the DOE on numerous issues, however not one included the potential closure of schools within my district. As a native of Far Rockaway, and a graduate of then IS 53, I am extremely disappointed in the DOE’s lack of communication with parents, students, and myself.
There has been tremendous community support against the closure of both schools. While my Assembly District only encompasses MS 53, many constituents (school staff and students) are also affected by the possible closure of PS/MS 42. My office has been inundated with phone calls from teachers, students, and parents alike requesting to stop the closure of these schools. In addition, hundreds attended the public hearings, myself included, to voice their concerns about the proposed closures. Sitting at the hearings and listening to the passion behind the students and teachers only affirms that the DOE has got it all wrong. The closure of a school places hardships on students that should never be a student’s concern. As a former PA president, I can attest that trying to solve the myriad challenges of education is hard enough on students, teachers and families, without the possibility of closing a school where they have learned and felt safe for years.

The fact is both schools have grown as renewal schools; they should have been compared to other focus schools in focused districts as opposed to the city as a whole. Specifically, MS 53 has met many of their bench marks and has had great success while still facing MANY obstacles of students who are: 67 percent economically disadvantaged, 20 percent English Language Learners (ELL), and 37 percent of students with learning disabilities. The DOE must continue to invest in our existing neighborhood schools to both ensure full growth in our students and our surrounding community. With the expected downtown Far Rockaway city investment we know we are going to grow-why close a school when we should be investing now? It’s obvious city agencies don’t communicate.

This past Friday I wrote to Chancellor Fariña and the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) requesting that the decision to close MS 53 is rescinded from the PEP meeting on Feb. 28, and is reevaluated. These are our children, and their education is worth fighting for.
As we are just beginning this year my goal is to not only continue to fight on behalf of our community, but to continue the relentless constituent service, legislative advocacy, and community problem-solving that myself and my team has strived for over the past year. This is an amazing community, like no other in the world. I am so lucky to be raising my children here with my husband. The diverse and beautiful peninsula we call home deserves all the hard work, energy and vision we can muster. Please let me know how I can help, what concerns you have, and what your ideas are for the future. I have a feeling we’re going to do great things together in 2018.


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