Liu announces plan to reform education

By Kelsey Durham

State Senate hopeful John Liu met with parents and educators in Bayside last week to unveil a comprehensive plan aimed at reforming public education.

The Democratic candidate stood outside Bayside High School, at 32-24 Corporal Kennedy St., and named three priorities he said would help better the state’s education system.

As students held up signs in support of his plan, Liu touched on three steps — reforming Common Core, reducing class size and reforming mayoral control — he said should be undertaken in order to improve education.

“Make no mistake about it, public schools are the key to what our future is about,” he said. “Education is a key issue and a fundamental responsibility of government.”

Liu said one of the first changes that needs to be made to education is to reform the Common Core curriculum that state legislators agreed to implement but have since voted to delay due to controversy over its heavy reliance on standardized testing.

He said the curriculum has brought about much controversy and would be better for students, teachers and parents if it focused more on a different way of evaluating students’ progress without so much testing.

“This is a common-sense reform that will seek transparency and accountability in the system but also seek to reduce this outside emphasis on the high-stakes exams,” he said.

Liu also named reducing class size and eliminating trailers as a key priority, saying he would like to use a data-driven approach to try to reduce overcrowding in schools. His plan includes the requirement that the city Department of Education create a five-year capital construction plan and new zoning lines that would allow schools to have space for all their students without using trailers.

“Queens has some of the most severe overcrowding in the city,” he said. “We still have so many students going to classes in trailers that were supposed to be temporary.”

Liu said his plan would ask the DOE to work with other city agencies to develop population trends and see which communities are growing the most rapidly and how their needs can best be addressed. It would also give local community boards the power to veto plans to construct new schools in their neighborhoods, he said.

The last leg of the plan is to reform mayoral control over schools to give parents more input on important decisions to education policy. Liu said his plan would implement additional appointments to the city Panel for Education Policy and require that a retired educator, a parent from the community education councils and a CUNY representative be named to the panel.

“The panel has left parents in the community out of the equation,” Liu said. “We need to bring them back in so they have meaningful input.”

Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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