Massapequa seeks to be a beacon of education


Superintendent Iconis recently wrote Gov. Cuomo regarding schools.

Nelson Gomez, Editor-in-Chief

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has released a list of 178 “failing” schools, pressuring the state legislature to approve funding and education reforms.

“Of the 178 schools, 77 have been failing for a decade. More than 250,000 students have passed through these 77 schools in the past ten years,” a corresponding report said. “That represents 250,000 students who did not have access to the high quality public education that they deserved.”

According to the report, schools are designated as failing if graduation rates are below 60 percent over the course of several years, or if English and math test scores are deemed as consistently inadequate or underperforming.

Six Long Island schools from four districts, including Hempstead and Central Islip, are reportedly failing.

Massapequa Superintendent Mrs. Lucille Iconis, however, has invited Gov. Cuomo to the school district to “view, firsthand, what a successful school district looks like.”

“I feel that [Gov. Cuomo] is painting everyone with the same brush,” Mrs. Iconis said. “He’s generalizing — he’s saying schools are failing… and that they’re not doing what they need to do to compete in this global economy, and I don’t feel that is correct.”

The letter comes on the heels of controversy surrounding Gov. Cuomo’s report and proposals, which suggested raising funding by 1.1 billion dollars and allowing failing schools to be taken over by outside groups or the state — an idea which has garnered disapproval from teachers’ unions and democrats in the state assembly.

“We must help our children to succeed, not punish them because they may live in poorer communities or deny their schools the funding they need to improve the learning environment,” State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said.

As both sides of the aisle struggle to find a mutually satisfactory solution to the issue of underperforming schools, Massapequa administrators are looking to make it the statewide blueprint for a successful public school district. “Our skilled administrators partner with the teaching staff every day to deliver a first class educational program,” Mrs. Iconis said in an open letter to Gov. Cuomo.

“Our graduation rate stands at 98.9 percent, 94.4 percent of our students go on to higher level study, and… all of our teachers have been deemed effective or highly effective, based on the Annual Professional Performance Review.”

Even in Massapequa, though, education reform and standards has become a contentious issue in itself. Increased testing and the implementation of Common Core standards have compelled some parents to opt out of state testing.

“Although New York State Education guidance is very clear, the Board of Education and administration are aware of the controversy involving the administration of these assessments,” Mrs. Iconis said in a letter to parents of students in grades 3–8. “Therefore, we will continue the procedures and protocols put in place… to accommodate those children who do not wish to participate in the testing program.”

Should more and more parents opt their children out of required state tests, a crucial benchmark for measuring Massapequa’s success as a school district becomes increasingly less relevant.

Regardless, the district doesn’t seem to be rescinding its offer any time soon. Whether Gov. Cuomo will take Mrs. Iconis up on her invitation — or how the state will reform underperforming schools, if at all — has yet to be seen.

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