2004-06-04 / Editorial/Opinion

Not All Change Is Positive Where Schools Are Concerned

Not All Change Is Positive Where Schools Are Concerned

Community School Board 27, which, in its various incarnations has served Rockaway for many years, is on its last legs. The board will officially cease to exist on June 30, relieved of its duty to serve Rockaway youth by a new Community Education Council CEC). We would be the first to admit that the local board did not always serve our youth well. We lived through the school board scandals that saw the District 27 board become the poster boy for corruption, greed and cronyism. That board, however, is long gone. The board that will step down on June 30 has served Rockaway youth and done it with both panache and with a fairness that borders on fanaticism. While we did not always agree with the board’s decisions, we could never argue with the openness in which those decisions were made or with the board’s determination to gain public input prior to making the decision. We will be sorry to see them go. For most of the last twenty years, Rockaway was well-represented on the school board, gaining at least six and sometimes seven of the nine available seats. That did not always sit well with mainland parents, but the membership was chosen in an open election and one could always blame the electoral system of roll-over votes for the disparity. On the new nine-member CEC there is only one Rockaway parent and he represents PS 114, arguably the best school in the district. There is no parent representation from the rest of the peninsula, although Borough President Helen Marshall will use one of her two appointees to make David Hooks, a new member of the community school board, to the CEC. Who made the decision that only one Rockaway parent should sit on the parent board? Certainly not the electorate at large. The three top officials of each parent association in the district voted – or did not vote, because only 50 percent of those eligible to vote in the CEC election did so. Some will say that only five percent of the eligible voters in the CSB elections voted, but five percent of thousands is still more voters that 50 percent of 111 voters. We would argue more vehemently for some additional Rockaway representatives on the CEC, except for the fact that the new group has no power whatsoever to direct even the broadest educational policy. It is a shadow cabinet with nothing to do but pose for the chancellor’s camera and smile prettily. The school board will celebrate its leave-taking with a farewell party at 8 p.m. at Pier 92 on June 17. Every Rockaway parent should show up to thank the board for all it has done for their children over the past ten years. We will be there.

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