New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza answered parents’ questions Monday night at his first Community Education Council District 27 town hall meeting in Far Rockaway.
Parents and students filled the auditorium at Goldie Maple Academy, located at 3-65 Beach 56th St., where they listened to the Carranza discuss issues regarding the gifted and talented program, increased student performance on standardized state tests, and developments of new schools on the peninsula.
When asked about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s promise to establish a gifted and talented program in Far Rockaway — and with no word from the Department of Education on when that will occur — Carranza noted that the program is simply a “myth segregating students.”
“The gifted and talented [program] is faster and more. In other words, there’s not a gifted curriculum that’s based on the brain science of gifted individuals … instead of giving them five problems, you give them 15 problems,” Carranza said. “People get really upset when I tell them the truth, but I’ve got 1.1 million kids and those are my constituents.”
“I want to be about research-based proven strategies to give truly intellectually gifted children what they need to succeed, not about the myth that some kids are gifted and other kids aren’t gifted,” he added.
In regards to implementing a plan of action to help students in the eastern section of District 27 to increase performance on state exams, Carranza suggested developing curriculums aligned with state standards.
“The state of New York decides what the standards are,” Carranza said. “What we get to do as a system is decide what is the curriculum that we get to use to teach those standards — what are they going to read, what’re they going to use, what authors, what strategies — and we have some principals that are masterful in leading their school communities in developing curriculums.”
Furthermore, Carranza noted, they’re assessing students and making sure the curriculum is tight.
“We know where students are supposed to be, and if they’re not where they’re supposed to be, we give the educators the tools they need to help them and to bridge that opportunity gap,” Carranza said.
As the conversation shifted to large housing and retail development in the Rockaways and what initiative Carranza is presenting to coordinate schools’ needs with the Department of City Planning, he said they’re working on a coordinated approach on the developments, number of students and school seats.
“When you look at overcrowding that is happening in Queens and portions of the Rockaways, it is the most overcrowded in New York City. In the $16 billion five-year capital plan that we just had approved this past school year, there is funding for 54,000 new seats in new schools and almost half of them are in Rockaway, Queens,” Carranza said.
Throughout the town hall, Carranza also touched on issues such as providing air conditioning in classrooms, social emotional learning support for students, swim safety, and violence prevention and gang control.