The Sidewalks of White Plains


School District quietly drops WINGS from 8th grade curriculum

Eastview Middle School Parents petition School District to restore WINGS.

No time according to School District, State-mandated courses squeeze it out.

WINGS parents: PTA and School Based council not consulted on the change.

The District just does it. "School for the Humanities" will not have a "gifted course" for the best and the brightest.

By John F. Bailey


CityLine: May 30, 2001 --CNR's Mailbox

The Middle School PTA is circulating a telephone petition to gather support for restoring WINGS classes for gifted Eighth Grade students at the Highlands and Eastview schools.

A letter to Eastview Middle School WINGS parents arrived today by mail charging that the City School District had not consulted the Middle School Parent Teacher Association or the School Based Council or told either parent organization they were eliminating WINGS classes from the eighth grade curriculum due to the state mandating the teaching of "Technology" and "Family & Consumer Sciences."

The decision was first announced at a meeting of the Board of Education last month.

Today the Bailey family as parents of a Middle School student, received this letter signed by Kate Perri and Amy Kellog, Co-President of the Middle School PTA, in which the charge was made, saying that "a number of parents are extremely disturbed by this decision and are not willing to let it go without any input from us."

The letter asks recipients to call Ms. Perri at 946-5935 or Ms. Kellogg at 993-9212 by Friday June 1 if they wish to add their name to a copy of the petition sent with the letter.

The Petition is addressed to Dr. Saul Yanofsky, Superintendent of Schools with copies sent to the members of the Board of Education and in part, states:

"We are extremely disappointed by the District's decision to unilaterally eliminate WINGS from the 8th grade curriculum. Without question, the children currently involved in the WINGS program are already achieving at or above grade level. Wings offers these children a stimulating and creative environment in which to develop higher levels of thinking, engage in critical analysis, practice their public speaking, as well as hone their technological skills."

The petition charges that test preparation on the 8th grade level has made such experiences as WINGS provides scarce:

"Unfortunately, given the emphasis on test preparation and remedial instruction such opportunities are becoming scarce in many of their core courses, thus leaving a void in the education of our most accomplished students. This cannot be allowed to exist in a school billed as 'a School for the Humanities (Eastview)' no less a district that prides itself in providing the opportunity for all children to achieve at their highest possible level. Moreover, in a school with no honors programs in ELA or Social Studies, WINGS provides these children the opportunity to go beyond the basic curriculum."

The petition wraps up with a sharp criticism of "state mandates" and a demand to examine the schedule more carefully:

"Though we understand the need to incorporate the courses of Technology and Family & Consumer Services, they are no substitute for the 8th grade WINGS program. The loss of WINGS represents yet another instance where enrichment opportunities have been sacrificed for State mandates. We, as parents and guardians, believe that there are other solutions to the scheduling dilemma and urge you to reconsider your decision so as to be able to continue to offer the highest possible level of education to all of the children of White Plains."

WPCNR could not confirm whether the School District had indeed not discussed the elimination of the WINGS program with the PTA or the School Based Council, and what the new state-mandated courses would consist of.

The authors of the letter hope to forward the "Phone Petition" to the Superintendent and the Board of Education on Monday, June 4.

At the Eastview school sixth grade concert last night, the petition was discussed in the halls after the concert, with several parents suggesting that the nebulous X-period could be a time to hold the WINGS program, just for starters.

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