Kim, Braunstein, Community Leaders Push to Expand Dual Language Program

    Assemblymember Ron Kim/Facebook

    Assembly Member Edward Braunstein

    Assemblymembers Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing and Murray Hill) and Edward Braunstein (D-Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Bayside Hills, Broadway-Flushing, Douglaston, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, North Shore Towers, Oakland Gardens, Whitestone), along with community leaders met this week with city Department of Education officials to discuss the current state of the Korean Dual Language program, and the possibility of expanding it to more schools.

    Many parents and educators have praised the important benefits of such programs, which until now have mostly been limited to Spanish and Chinese. As the first and only Korean American elected official in New York, Kim and his colleague Braunstein, whose district includes a sizable Korean American population, are focused on enabling more children to learn Korean in dual language programs throughout the city and state.

    Currently the only Korean Dual Language Program available in all of New York is at PS 32, and it ends after 5th grade, right before many students begin regular foreign language studies in junior high school.

    In their meeting with Department of Education officials, Kim and Braunstein emphasized the importance of bringing the program to more students and schools in New York. The growing Korean American community in New York, particularly in Queens’ neighborhoods like Flushing, Whitestone and Bayside, has led to increased demand for such dual language programs, and the community leaders present urged the officials to also work with the Assemblymembers in developing the program beyond primary school.

    “Studies show how valuable a bilingual education is for the development of young minds,” said Kim. “Limited choice can prevent otherwise interested parents from enrolling their kids in enormously beneficial dual language programs. As a Korean-American whose two daughters will likely grow up speaking English, Korean and Chinese, the importance of this kind of education is clear to me. The current program at PS 32 is a good start, but remains limited; it’s the only Korean dual language program in the whole city and ends after elementary school. By the time its participants graduate from high school, many may already forget what they learned. They should be offered a chance to continue their bilingual education, and their peers who live in other similar school districts should have an equal opportunity to enroll in these valuable programs.”

    Braunstein noted Dual Language Programs have a proven track record of improving educational outcomes for students.

    “We understand the importance of children having opportunities to learn other languages in an increasingly interconnected world. Many Korean American families in my district are often surprised to find that Korean is not offered among the list of available programs, and disheartened by the limited opportunities for their children to learn it,” Braunstein said.


    Miller Joins City In Promoting Seniors, Disabled Tax Exemption Enrollment Month

    Councilmember I. Daneek Miller

    City Council Member I. Daneek Miller (D-Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Laurelton, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, St. Albans) yesterday joined the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit (PEU), in conjunction with the New York City Department of Finance (DOF) at the CW Mixon Senior Outreach Center in Queens to kick off a Month of Action focused on helping seniors and people with disabilities access city programs that help keep them in their homes and protect affordable housing.

    Created by Mayor De Blasio, PEU proactively engages seniors and people with disabilities in-person and over the phone, providing individualized assistance in multiple languages to help them enroll in these programs. Specialists are enrolling New Yorkers in two DOF programs as part of the Month of Action – the NYC Tax Break for Homeowners program, for which homeowners need to apply by January 20, 2018, and the NYC Rent Freeze Program.

    The NYC Tax Break for Homeowners program (which includes the Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption Program, SCHE, and the Disabled Homeowners’ Exemption, DHE), helps eligible seniors and people with disabilities, many of them living on fixed incomes, stay in their homes by providing partial property tax exemptions. Under this program, property owners earning less than $50,000 can have their property taxes reduced by up to 50%.

    The NYC Rent Freeze Program (which includes the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program, SCRIE, and the Disability Rent Increase Exemption, DRIE) helps eligible seniors and people with disabilities, many of them living on fixed incomes, stay in their homes by freezing their rent. Under this program, a tenant’s rent is frozen at the amount they pay when they enter into the program. The City pays the landlord the difference between the prior legal rent and subsequent rent increases through a property tax credit.

    “The savings attainable through the City’s various property tax benefit and rent freeze programs are not widely known among New Yorkers,” said Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor. “The legislation proposed by Congress that threatens to shift the bulk of the tax burden onto the shoulders of working individuals and families makes this outreach especially vital to those populations who can ill-afford to bear its cost: seniors, people living with disabilities and veterans.”

    Enrollment events will continue throughout the month of December and additional events for January will be announced in the future. New Yorkers can call 311 or visit http://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/benefits/property-benefit-forms/benefits-forms-property-owners.page for more information on these programs.


    Dromm’s Education Committee Looks At Gender Pronoun Training

    City Council Member Daniel Dromm/via Facebook

    City Council Member Daniel ‘Danny’ Dromm (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights), who chairs the council Education Committee, will see the committee look at a proposed bill today requiring city agencies to provide training to agency staff regarding individuals’ gender pronouns and to require agencies to amend their official forms and databases to collect and retain gender pronoun information.

    The proposed measure would require the Mayor’s Office of Operations to ensure that city agencies provide mandatory training to frontline staff members regarding the use of city residents’ gender pronouns when interacting with such residents.

    The bill would also require agencies to amend their demographic forms to allow city residents to indicate their gender pronouns on such forms, and to the extent that a city agency is not authorized to amend such a form, to provide a separate form to collect such information. The bill would also require city agencies to update databases and computer systems such that gender pronoun information may be retained with a resident’s individual file.

    The committee meeting is slated for 1 p.m. today, Dec. 7 in the City Council Chambers at City Hall in Lower Manhattan.


    Crowley Denounces Passage of National Concealed Carry Law on Americans

    U.S. Representative Joe Crowley/via Facebook

    U.S. Rep. and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-Sunnyside, Astoria, College Point, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside and parts of the Bronx) NY) yesterday denounced a House approved Republican bill that would force a universal concealed carry law on Americans.

    The legislation would allow people to use permits for carrying concealed handguns across state lines while also boosting the background check system.

    According to The Hill, the measure passed despite bipartisan support for enhancing background checks for gun purchases. The bill passed along party lines, 231-198, due to Democratic opposition to the concealed-carry reciprocity measure.

    Six centrist Democrats voted with Republicans to approve the package: Reps. Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), Ron Kind (Wis.), Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Kurt Schrader (Ore.). 

    Fourteen Republicans voted “no,” including a mix of conservatives and centrists.

    “Today, Republicans in Congress failed to protect Americans and reduce the horror and heartbreak of gun violence. This NRA-approved bill is far from a responsible approach to prevent gun violence in our communities. Instead, it will undermine sensible state gun-safety laws by allowing dangerous and violent individuals to secretly carry powerful firearms like those used in the Orlando and Las Vegas mass shootings,” said Crowley.

    “American families want to feel safe and secure in our churches, our schools, our communities, and our homes. Democrats won’t rest until it becomes a reality,” he added.

     

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