Johnson Proposes ‘More Specialized High Schools’

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (center left) and Council member Paul Vallone (center right) with Korean organization leaders including Korean American Parents Association of Greater New York Co-president Christine Colligan, Korean American Association of Greater New York President Minsun Kim and Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York Executive Director Linda Lee in the front center. (Photo courtesy of Vallone’s office via QNS)

City Council member Paul Vallone of District 19 in northeast Queens, who routinely holds meetings with Korean-American community leaders, was joined by Council Speaker Corey Johnson of Manhattan’s District 3 on Jan. 31 at the headquarters of Korean Community Services in Bayside. The speaker’s father was born in South Korea to an American father and Korean mother.

QNS’ Jenna Bagcal reports:

The Jan. 31 meeting centered on obtaining City Council contracts, discussing obstacles in receiving essential services, as well as helping them work around common issues they face including language and cultural barriers. Johnson and Vallone expressed their concerns about city agencies lacking foreign language speakers who could communicate properly to Korean-American businesses and organizations.

She noted the amount of funding Vallone, Johnson and Melinda Katz have obtained for the Korean community.

In the past, Vallone has invited Johnson and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz to similar roundtable discussions that produced tangible results. Over the past five years, Vallone, Johnson and Katz have been able to secure a combined $11.5 million in funding for the Korean-American community.

Vallone has secured $7 million in funding to benefit Korean-American organizations while Johnson and Katz provided $4.5 million for Korean Community Services to renovate their new Bayside offices.

Queens Chronicle’s Ryan Brady reports that Johnson, regarding the mayor’s plan to end the Specialized High School Admissions Test in a bid to diversify elite high schools, “blasted de Blasio’s proposal, saying it was ‘rolled out’ in a way that was not ‘productive.'”

“I think that we need to do is, we can recognize that there still is deep segregation in schools across New York City, where there aren’t enough African-American and Latino students who are getting the opportunities they deserve,” said Johnson. “But you can do that in a way that doesn’t sort of pit communities against each other.”

He suggested a variety of policies to help solve the racial disparity at the specialized schools: improving middle schools; implementing school desegregation plans; more Gifted and Talented programs; increasing SHSAT prep; and creating “more specialized high schools, not just the number that we have now.”

Korean community leaders also brought up the “city’s aggressive fining of Korean-owned small businesses for technical code violations” and the March 1st Movement. When one community leader said her organization wished to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the movement, Johnson explained why, based on her request, that would not follow the policy at City Hall. Find out why at Queens Chronicle.

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