2009-05-20 / Features

Vallone, Nolan Honored By District 30 Education Council

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan both strongly believe in public education. As parents, each has sent their children to public schools. City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan both strongly believe in public education. As parents, each has sent their children to public schools. City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan both strongly believe in public education. As parents, each has sent their children to public schools.

For their efforts as elected officials, Vallone and Nolan were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards from the District 30 Community Education Council.

"I so much appreciate what the Community Education Council does," Vallone said. "Nobody cares like a parent." CEC members must have children attending public schools. Speaking of his two daughters, Vallone said, "They're doing very well and it's because of the public schools."

"I appreciate your honest dialogue," said Nolan, describing the leadership of District 30 as "a beacon of strength in a time when many parents are alienated from the system". Nolan said her experience as a District 30 parent was enriching. "I have tried to communicate the joy of being a public school parent to the mayor," she said.

Vallone was cited as an outstanding leader and dedicated public servant born and raised in Astoria and educated in District 30 public schools. As chair of the Public Safety Committee in the city council, his efforts to combat graffiti vandalism were noted. Regarding the upcoming budget, Vallone said, "The fight is not over. There is no greater priority than public education."

Nolan was cited for 25 years of dedicated public service, many served as chair of the education committee in the state Assembly where she has advocated for smaller class sizes, improved middle schools and higher graduation rates.

As education chair, Nolan held 45 hours of public hearings this year on the issue of mayoral control. The 2002 legislation authorizing mayoral control will "sunset" on June 30. The state legislature has a little more than a month to decide whether to reauthorize, alter or reduce mayoral control. If nothing is done, control of public schools will revert back to a central board of education and community school boards.

"We are looking at trying to give more direction to the DOE (Department of Education)," said Nolan. "We hear you."

Nolan criticized the recent online election held for CEC candidates. "It's crazy to have a straw vote that wasn't binding," she said, adding there was no collaboration with the Legislature at all. "I thought the whole thing was silly and I shared that with Chancellor [Joel] Klein," she said.

Asked by CEC First Vice President Jeffrey Guyton about changes to the Panel for Educational Policy PEP, which CEC 30 has endorsed, Nolan was noncommittal but said Mayor Michael Bloomberg was strongly opposed to reducing the number of his appointees.

"This is an absolute deal breaker to the mayor," Nolan said. "There are a lot of proposals. With Bloomberg running for a third term, Nolan acknowledged, [Bloomberg] has a lot to say about PEP changes."

Outgoing CEC 30 President Jeannie Tsavaris-Basini, herself restricted from a third term said, "I think it's ludicrous that everybody, Mayor, Council, etc., gets to go on."

"The mayor has clout, being the mayor of the city of New York," said Nolan. "We want to keep his support. On the issue of term limits, I'm not going to comment."

Tsavaris-Basini, Jose Batista, Lavinia Galatis, Shireen Soliman and Catherine Yankopoulos were recognized by District 30 Superintendent Dr. Philip Composto for their service as CEC members. "These are great people," he said. "These are people who make a difference."

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