2002-04-20 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

By Dr. Geraldine Chapey

Chatting With Chapey by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey
Education: Let's Hear It For Our Children

On Thursday April 11, 2002, an Education Forum was held in Queens at the Occupational Training Center.  Terry Thompson, the Queens representative on the New York City Board of Education, called the meeting.

On the dais were Regent Dr. Geraldine Chapey, Chancellor Harold Levy and our Borough President Helen Marshall.  Dr Geraldine Chapey, the Regent and Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, the Democratic District Leader took the opportunity to discuss the severe overcrowding in the Queens classrooms and schools with Chancellor Levy.  We also spoke about the acute and critical shortage of teachers. Findings overwhelmingly point to the fact that teaching matters. Teachers are one of the most significant factors in a child's ability to achieve.  Teachers do make a difference.  The teaching fellows program, which will begin again on May 1, has allowed career changers to become more effective teachers.  We proposed a new program for Chancellor Levy's consideration for BA graduates with a liberal arts degree, which would provide financial incentives for those who do student teaching.  We have given this written proposal to the Chancellor.  It would be cost effective and significantly improve our ability to recruit and retain teachers.

Helen Marshall, the Queens Borough President, has served in the New York State Assembly and the New York City Council representing Queens residents.  Marshall is passionate about education and she strongly supports professionals, parents and children in their desire to improve our educational system.  She is working continuously to address our concerns.

Chancellor Harold Levy focused our attention on the budget.  He had several slides, which highlighted the monetary needs of the Queens schools.  Levy stressed the budget because this is the time of the year that the New York State Assembly and Senate are working on the budget for the 2002-2003 school year.  After the budget is passed by the state legislature it then moves to the City Council for its consideration.

Regent Dr. Geraldine Chapey addressed the importance of improving the quality of education in our classrooms.  She noted that the emphasis on standards has increased the number of students taking the state exams and the number of children receiving passing or better grades.

Terry Thompson also presented a series of slides emphasizing the situation in the Queens schools.  She had invited representatives from each school district in Queens.  There were superintendents and community representatives from each one.

Assemblyman Ivan Lafayette, the leader of the Queens Democratic delegation in the Assembly, is one representative who is very interested in education.  He is informed and knowledgeable on every part of the educational spectrum.  He is and has been a leader in advocating for universal Pre K classes in our schools.  He is one of the staunch leaders who has aggressively fought for the necessary dollars to provide universal Pre K classes.  For Lafayette, education is a 24-hour per day and 7 day a week commitment.

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer is very involved in our schools.  She began this interest when her children were in school and continued it as a community activist before she went to the Assembly.  Pheffer has a keen interest in and a handle on the important educational issues and she uses her position in Albany to promote better education.  She has expanded the horizons of many of our children by bringing classes to Albany to visit the New York State legislature while it is in session.  The children who have gone have been able to see first hand how our government operates.  These trips have sparked their interest in the workings of government, the history of our state and in voting.  These trips are very worthwhile.

The educational forum was well coordinated.  It allowed professionals and parents from all the districts in Queens to share their concerns and experiences.  Literature was distributed.

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