CB 12 Education Chairwoman Talks Testing, 3K

BY TRONE DOWD

At Community Board 12’s last general meeting before the summer break, new education committee chairwoman Geraldine Brown broke down what is in store for the district’s schools in the coming months as well as where the committee stands one of the hot topic education issues taking place across New York City.

Brown, who has served on the board prior to the new position, is replacing Joan Flowers, who will now serve as vice chairwoman of CB 12. The shake-up is part of many changes to CB 12 since former chairwoman, Adrienne Adams, left to serve on the City Council in January. 

Brown said that she and the committee are still coordinating the mission of the newly assembled group, but they have already begun work to steer the district into the right direction.

“We have a very lively group,” Brown said at Wednesday’s meeting, asking attendees to drop by September’s meeting to hear more about the group’s plans for the district. “We are looking to formulate our mission, our vision, our goals as well as look at data and successes that will help us meet these goals.”

Brown said that during the group’s June meeting, the committee discussed the 3K program that will begin its pilot run in school District 27 in September.

“There have been 5,000 applications, 3,200 seats have been offered to students and children,” she said. “They do need more seats. [The city] will be going to community-based organizations and  job fair centers to look for additional seats. So far, there are 17 schools that will be offering seats.” 

Next up on the agenda, Brown spoke about the committee’s stance on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to axe the specialized high school admissions test in favor of a more holistic view of a student’s work ethic and ability.

“No place in America, no place in the world, not even civil servants I think, is there just one examine determining whether you’re in or out,” she said. “We need to write some sort of letter of support from CB 12 saying we support the mayor in this initiative.”

In addition to supporting the mayor’s plans, Brown said that she also favors expanding the “discovery program,” which admits students who missed the mark on passing the specialized high school test by a few points to some of the city’s most prestigious schools. She mentioned that she wants to see the mayor invest in elementary and middle schools to ensure that students are ready for an advanced high school curriculum upon graduation.

“Everybody needs the opportunity,” she said to applause from attendees.

The mayor’s proposal to broaden the standards for specialized high schools drew the ire of elected representatives throughout the city when he first announced it two weeks ago. Many believe that the current test is an unbiased method of assessing a student’s preparedness to take on the challenges of the city’s top schools. The mayor, however, believes that it is a factor in the city’s diversity problem in its schools. Although his plan is not likely to gain any traction on the state level, due to a Republican state Senate majority, this might change if midterm elections shift the balance in favor of the Democrats.

The next education committee meeting will take place on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Roy Wilkins Park Family Center. 

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