By Bill Parry
Hundreds of students and parents packed the auditorium of Long Island City High School last week to protest a plan proposed by the city Department of Education to co-locate a new career and technical education school inside the building next year.
Elected officials, including state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) and state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), spoke to those assembled.
Gianaris, a graduate of the high school, was perhaps the most vocal, saying “the DOE didn’t succeed in closing the school down last year, so it seems personal that they want to slowly eat away at it from the inside.”
The DOE maintains that LIC High School has struggled to improve the educational outcomes of students, reflected in the grade of C on its last three progress reports. The political leaders believe the school has made strides recently under a new administration.
“It is now a proud school on the rise,” declared Simotas. “Putting this impressive progress at risk by co-locating another school in the same building is unacceptable and unfair to current and future students.”
DOE spokesman Harry Hartfield defended the proposal.
“Across the city, we’ve transformed the landscape with our new school options and we’ve been nationally recognized by President Obama for our visionary offerings, he said. “We’re delivering an incredible new career and technical education for this community. This will be a new option that will deliver great outcomes for children and we’re confident it will be in very high demand.”
Gianaris is all for the new school, saying “putting tech programs in western Queens is a great idea. Let’s make it happen in a way that helps our current students instead of cutting seats and making the classrooms even more crowded.”
The senator suggested adding a tech program for the students who are already in LIC high school. As a graduate he defended the school’s reputation. “It’s personal for me. That school gave me everything I needed to succeed at Fordham and then at Harvard and it all began at that school that is so maligned.”
Gianaris believes the DOE is determined to go forward with its plans for the co-location. but it would not begin until next September.
“It seems like a forgone conclusion, but the good news is there will be a new mayor with plenty of time to walk it back,” he said.
Reach Bill Parry by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.