Transcript of Ms. Huina Gao’s Speech at the 2/18 FCPS Board Meeting

Thanks for this public comment opportunity. My name is Huina Gao, from Providence District with two kids in FCPS. I moved to Fairfax County 3 years ago because of its excellence and dedication to public education, in particular the advanced academic program which symbolize the fundamental principal that every child is given the opportunity to thrive. I am here today, in the wake of our current budget crisis, hoping to provide some input related to the importance and prospect of center based AAP program, which is committed to challenge and prepare gifted and talented students for success in their future endeavors.

Busing to AAP Centers is on the list of recommended cuts by budget task force. You might assume that Local Level IV AAP and Center AAP are equivalent and interchangeable, and conclude that a decision to eliminate bus service will not be harmful because students have access to local Level IV AAP. Unfortunately, these programs are not equal. I will say the distinction between them is highly regionally dependent because FCPS so far does not have a unified, comprehensive and measurable standard for a Local level IV AAP service. The distinction is also students dependent. It is subject to students’ individual learning model. My base school, provides Local IV AAP service. But due to resource limitations, our principal was unable to establish a separate AAP class in the past even though a majority of parents have their concerns over the effectiveness of the setting. The existence of both local and center AAP programs allow parents to choose the best suitable learning environment. Some parents may choose a neighborhood school because it serves their best interest. Some parents may need a center program considering the importance of a well-established peer group. Cutting transportation service is a deterrence to parents like me whose children need a center program but who do not have the resources to provide our own transportation every day.

I sincerely hope when making decisions on the budget priorities, please do consider that removing bus services will cause a tremendous hardship to students and families, and will negate the quality and accessibility of the program. We should support the programs that help the kids grow, not hold some of them back because they do not live in a center school boundary. Every Level IV qualified child needs this opportunity for a Center education, regardless of where he/she lives.

Chinese American Parent Association of Fairfax County (CAPAFC) is a membership organization of Chinese American parents dedicated to the advocacy for excellence and achievement in education.