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Uptown Schools to Get Translated Materials Earlier, Chancellor Says

By Nigel Chiwaya | March 21, 2014 12:15pm
 DOE Chancellor Carmen Farina promised many "goodwill" changes to parents and teachers, on Thursday night in Washington Heights.
DOE Chancellor Carmen Farina promised many "goodwill" changes to parents and teachers, on Thursday night in Washington Heights.
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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — New schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña promised that uptown teachers and English-language-learner students will get test prep materials in a timely manner this year, one of many "goodwill" changes she described during an uptown appearance Thursday evening.

Parents, teachers, politcians and education advocates packed into P.S. 8 Luis Belliard for a meeting of the Community Education Council, where they told Fariña the DOE didn't give them Common Core materials in languages other than English until the month of the exam.

Fariña said she'll ensure that English language learner students and special-needs students get a "fair share" of resources.

“I promise you that from this point on, they will be sent to your schools on a timely basis. We’ll get that straightened out," Fariña said.

While Thursday's town hall was northern Manhattan's first chance to see the new Chancellor, Fariña said she has already heard a lot from parents in school district 6, saying she received more calls and emails from uptown parents since her appointment earlier this year than from any other district in the city.

After listening to complaints about co-locations, trailers, overcrowding, inadequate materials for ELL students and a host of other issues, Fariña promised a new direction.

For starters, Fariña said new DOE "campus squads" will visit co-located schools with clear guidance about how space is to be shared, in an attempt to solve inter-school space issues.

"We don’t expect people to be fighting each other over things," Fariña said. "We’re going to be the mediators. We’re going to come in with a very clear rubric about what we can share."

Fariña reiterated promises of "major changes" to the DOE's "Blue Book," which serves as a guide for how many students can fit into a building and determines school co-locations. She also said education officials will meet with the NYPD to retrain security guards and will work to improve parent engagement.

"These are things that don't take money, they just take effort and goodwill," she said.

Fariña also promised to change the culture of the DOE, which often pitted parents against administrators, telling parents: "Not only are you not the enemy, you are your child's advocate."

Parents applauded Fariña at several points during the 90-minute town hall. While members of the parent-led Community Education Council expressed confidence in the new direction of the department, they said the DOE needed to continue broadcasting its new message.

"The new DOE needs to reintroduce itself and your goals. There's been a lot of collateral damage done by the previous administration," said CEC president Miriam Aristy-Farer. "But we believe in you, and we need you to let us know that you believe in us."