Today’s news:

Middle school fair at JHS 278

Since District 22 students can no longer attend gifted programs outside their district, it’s time to learn about what schools they can attend.

On December 11th, the city Department of Education (DOE) will host a Middle School Fair at J.H.S. 278 at 1925 Stuart Street in Marine Park. At the fair, which will run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and feature a workshop on the admissions process at 6:15 p.m., students and staffers from local middle schools will offer details about their schools and special programs.

The information is vital since this is the first year of a new policy prohibiting School District 22 students from being admitted to District 21 middle schools.

In years past, children attending schools in Districts 20 and 22 were admitted to gifted and talented programs in District 21 because of a 1974 court order meant to desegregate I.S. 239, the Mark Twain School for the Gifted and Talented. The court order applied to all middle schools in District 21, which includes Coney Island and Bensonhurst.

The court order was lifted this year after the parents of an Indian-American girl sued the city because their daughter was denied admission to Mark Twain based on the court order’s racial quota system, which held minorities to higher admission standards than white students.

Now, to be admitted to a District 21 school, a child must either reside within the district or attend a school in the district. Mark Twain remains a citywide program, thereby accepting students from throughout the city.

Reaction to the new admissions standards has been mixed.

At last month’s meeting of District 21’s Community Education Council (CEC), Judy Gerowitz, the district’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT) representative, said, “I am very concerned with the loss of students. Our schools are going to be decimated, our classes are going to be eliminated, and there goes jobs.”

But Christopher Spinelli, president of the CEC for District 22, said students will now have to consider schools previously overlooked.

“I think this may be a good thing because we have historically lost some of our best students to Districts 20 and 21,” Spinelli said. “We’ve always tried to tell the story of how good the middle schools in District 22 are and statistically, they’re head and shoulders above most in the city.”

At the Middle School Fair, students and their parents can learn about the specialized programs operating in middle schools in District 22, which includes Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach and parts of Midwood, Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay.

There will also be a Middle School Information Session on December 17th at I.S. 285 at 5909 Beverly Road for Districts 17, 18 and 22. The session will run from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

For more information about the events, call 311 or visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/Middle.

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