Astoria’s education issues main focus of City Council forum
by Andrew Pavia
Aug 28, 2013 | 4981 views | 2 2 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The seven candidates looking to replace Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. answered questions about education at the Variety Boys & Girls Club in Astoria last night.

Topics ranged from transportation issues students face in the 22nd District to finding the best option for funding the education system.

Costa Constantinides kicked off the forum, which was hosted by Zone 126, by stating his displeasure with alternatives to classrooms.

“I think the biggest challenge in Astoria is providing our student with the optimal opportunity and environment to learn,” said Constantinides. “Queens has become the king of trailers. Kids should be learning inside of classrooms.”

One of his leading opponents, who brought a large number of supporters with him, Gus Prentzas said schools shouldn’t wait on money from the city.

“We need to be able to team up with local businesses and bring in some more funding,” said Prentzas.

His goal would be to set up an “adopt a school” program, where private businesses would be able to sponsor a school, giving it resources such as free wi-fi.

One issue that was not supported by any candidate was standardized testing. Green Party candidate Lynn Serpe said she would work toward a well-rounded education system.

“The focus on high-stakes testing leads to stressed-out kids,” she said.

Her goal is to focus on creating smaller class sizes and using community organizations to create programs for students.

Prentzas criticized the current administration for allowing Chancellor Dennis Walcott to hold his position without a background in education.

“Once I’m elected, I’m going to make sure that the next chancellor to come in will be a true educator,” said Prentzas.

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Eric C.
September 19, 2013
I believe that Serpe touched on a very important issue of high-stakes testing. To measure a school, district, and/or educator on the performance of a one multiple choice test that a third grader takes is ludicrous. Can you imagine all the work you do all year long being measured by a child bubbling in random answers on a test? Yes, students do that. They don't like the test so they just fill in random answers to be finished with them. What other profession is measured by how well a child performs on one test? Ludicrous.

I like how she mentions that we need to focus on well-rounded education system. The well-roundedness in education has been evaporating from our schools. This is mostly due to high-stakes testing.

Good job Ms. Serpe! You really seem to comprehend the main failure of our system. You seem to grasp the concept better than your opponents. You opponents should consult you on education policy, because their comments demonstrate that they know nothing about what is going on inside the classrooms, whether they be in a building or a trailer.
Daniel Lee
August 29, 2013
Serpe's work with kids at Queens Library for her Greening Libraries Initiative, I think, give her a particular insight to the out-of-the-classroom learning experience that children need and *want.* With budget crunching happening, let's not forget that something like a library serves our children's education needs through after school programming, etc.