A face-to-face meeting can change a whole situation — at least that’s what PS 122 parents hope.
Parents of the Astoria school that is in jeopardy of having its Gifted and Talented program scaled down showed up in force at the March 20 Panel for Educational Policy meeting in Brooklyn to voice continued opposition to the Department of Education’s plan.
At a PEP meeting a week before, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott refused to speak to the group, a standard policy to not address speakers directly. However, at the March 20 meeting he agreed to set up a time to discuss the controversial proposal.
“A united community can really make change,” PS 122 parent Deborah Alexander wrote in an email. “It’s just the first step, but we’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished, and thrilled that the chancellor listened and heard us.”
The latest in a slew of G&T plans for District 30 — which covers Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside — would cut the highly ranked Academy at PS 122 from 11 to three classes, or about 60 seats, by 2019.
The DOE says it has to make room for more general education students at PS 122 — which offers general education and G&T classes from kindergarten through fifth grade and only G&T classes for sixth through eighth grades — because of the of a rule set by the chancellor that allows students to stay at one location if available.
No meeting date has been scheduled yet.
“Chancellor Walcott and his team are very responsive and listen closely to feedback from families,” DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia said. “We look forward to meeting with this community once again and articulating our rationale for this plan: equity and fairness for all students.”
Parents were ready to file a petition with state Education Commissioner John King to stop the plan two weeks ago, but hesitated after the chancellor’s agreement to meet. Nevertheless the group decided on March 25 to file, Alexander said.