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Parents Demand More Gifted and Talented Seats In District 30

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | October 19, 2012 4:21pm

ASTORIA — Parents of gifted and talented kids at two District 30 schools are furious about a new city proposal that no longer guarantees their children G&T middle school seats in order to accommodate a booming population and soaring demand.

Instead, kids from P.S. 122 in Astoria and P.S. 150 in Sunnyside — who used to be transferred automatically to the middle school program at P.S. 122 — would be required to reapply to the G&T program again in 5th grade, according to the proposal, which aims to address the current shortage of gifted and talented middle school seats in the district.

If the plan goes into effect, parents from P.S. 150 and P.S. 122 would share the fate of parents of kids attending newer gifted and talented programs in the district — at P.S. 166 and at a city-wide program STEM at P.S. 85 — which currently don't have an automatic transfer.

Parents, who have sent a letter to chancellor Dennis Walcott and are circulating petitions against the proposal, expressed their anger during a Community Education Council District 30 meeting held on Thursday night at P.S. 166.

“We live literally next door to P.S. 85, but we chose P.S. 150 because of the guarantee that my daughter will later go to the best program — at P.S. 122,” said Karen Schumacher, who said she must take two trains to take her first grader to school each morning.

Christa Cavallaro whose 6-year old son Max qualified for a city-wide program also chose P.S. 150.

“I didn’t transfer him to P.S. 85, because there is no plan for what they’re going to do with those students when they reach the age of middle school,” she said. “We made decisions based on the [DOE’s] promises and we expect those promises to be kept.”

Sandy Ferguson, deputy chief executive for admissions, at the Department of Education’s office of student enrollment, told the parents that it’s just a proposal and it's far from a done deal.

The goal, he said, was “to create fair and equitable access to all of the middle school programs in this district for all of the kids in this district.”

But parents said they had already come up with the solution several few months ago.

Working with their elected officials and Community Education Council District 30, they determined that a new G&T middle school program could be created at I.S. 126 in Long Island City, which has been underutilized.

One of the DOE’s proposals plans to create a new “academically enriched” program at that school in 2013 which would open 60 seats, but teachers would not be required to have G&T training or to follow a G&T curriculum.

That option was not good enough for the angry parents and the CEC representatives.

“There are plenty of seat there,” said Valerie Lamour, a member of the District 30 Community Education Council about I.S. 126. “And kids deserve teachers who are G&T qualified."