School’s Out in Williamsburg

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Williamsburg and Greenpoint may be filling up with affluent families lured by the recent condo boom, but the well-heeled new residents are hardly beating a path to local schools. According to an article in this week’s Crain’s (sub. req’d), enrollment is plummeting in the neighborhoods’ public schools–it’s down 12 percent in elementary schools over the past two years, with middle schools operating at 56 percent capacity, on average. The classrooms are emptying as older residents priced out of the neighborhoods are forced to leave and newer residents put off by what they consider to be conservative education practices decide to send their kids to schools farther afield. The trend is exposing chinks in the armor of the Bloomberg administration’s rezoning of northern Brooklyn, which was supposed to create a community where rich and poor (and their offspring) rubbed shoulders. On top of that, it could spell trouble ahead for developers who are marketing Williamsburg and Greenpoint buildings to young professionals with families. And developers are keenly aware of the areas’ lack of pull on the education front. “We have thought about it,” said Ron Moelis, a principal with L&M Equities, which is developing Schaefer Landing. “I don’t have an answer for you. There’s talk of a charter school, a new magnet school or maybe even a new private school. It would be great if that occurs.”
Photo by specmotors.

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  • Can someone who has access to the Crain’s article post it please? Thanks

  • Did the articles check enrollment at the williamsburg nursery schools? (WINS, Northside, etc.) I am guessing it is way UP. I have a two year old and my guess is most people moving to the neighborhood now with children have sub five year olds. We do need a magnet school here for when all these kids reach grade school age.

  • I have two kids one goes to WNP and one goes to PS 132 which is an awesome school…I have no plans to take them out, we are very happy with both schools

  • Any feedback on JHS 126?

  • The problem is that many more affluent newcomers into communities like this really don’t want to work with existing schools to make them better. They really want for the school system to create new schools just for their kids, and perhaps a few “deserving” kids from the community. That leaves the existing schools where they have been for a generation – failing in every way, and not getting the funds and attention to make the schools work. The remaining students are the kids for whom education means a way out of poverty and the ghetto. Turning all of the attention to richer newbies is continuing the segregation and failure of our public education system.

    Magnet schools are not a bad thing, but the education of inner city kids should be paramount to the school system. Educate them all, because they are all important, all of them.

  • This does not surprise me. People in Williamsburg do not seem actively involved with their neighborhood as they do in Park Slope, for instance where schools are above average.

    The younger generation of parents are entitled and think the world should provide, and they are there to take, take, take.

  • My thinking is along the line of that stated by 11:24. I believe the turn-around at PS 8, in Brooklyn Heights, serves as a good model. If chan is correct, I suggest that those parents get involved in the local schools now so they can reap the personal benefit when their children are school-age.

  • Many of the newer residents have tried to work with the schools in the neighborhood. There are two obstacles that get in the way. Many of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg families that were born and raised in the neighborhood are unreceptive to new ideas and are suspicious of the new residents who want to work to improve things. Secondly, the facilities in all the schools need big improvements. These are just two reasons why many families have opted out of the local schools. Many have tried but have been let down. That is why I have pulled both of my kids from a local elementary school in Williamsburg.

  • 11:24 & 11:25 do you have children?

    School funding has ZERO to do with the relative failings of certain NYC public Schools over other NYC public schools – it has to do with management of the schools and the parenting of the current and future students, period!

    Rather then take, take, take – the reality is that these parents are being TAKEN – they pay massively high taxes (Fed, State, Local, RE, Sales etc..) that fund a school system and then because of no fault of their own – they are forced (if they want there kids to have a quality education) to spend massive amounts more on private school.

    While it is certainly unfair that parents of less means who are determined to have their kids be similarly educated have significantly less options – it is definetly not the fault of those who feel they must pay for private school. And you indignation that people arent willing to sacrifice their own kids to some god of public education (with no realistic expectation that it will benefit anyone) is why being liberal has come to have such a bad connotation in this country.

    If people want to send their kids to public school great, if people want to get involved in improving their public school even better – but people arent bad citizens if they are unwilling to sacrifice their own childrens education to make up for the deficiencies in others parenting or the wholesale mismangement of a core government function.

  • I for one am unwilling to sacrifice my child’s education or put him on the frontline of a cause that I choose to fight. The last posters comments are great and get right to the point.

  • PS 31 and PS 34 in Greenpiont are excellent school. Their snandardized test scores are higher than PS 321′s in the Slope.

    Unfortunately, middle schools fall off the map in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

    As an alternative, the local Catholic schools are very good.

  • As long as affluent, recent buyers with families stay in these gentrifying fringe neighborhoods, they will demand and receive quality education whether private or public. But it won’t happen overnight. I say within five years. Park Slope is a good model, no?

    Wouldn’t a private school venture do well in these times? How difficult is it to start and run a new private school?

  • 12:04 &12:11,
    Please do not refer to those of us who send our kids to a public school as “sacrificing” their education. It is derogatory comments like this that maintain segregation and only cause to hurt people.

  • I don’t blame newcomers/yuppies, etc. for not working with the public schools of some neighborhoods. A child’s education is far too important to waste on a social experiment. With some exceptions, most NYC public schools are poorly run and do an abysmal job of educating children. Many alumni can barely read or write a coherent sentence. While 11:24 makes some valid points, I think it is unrealistic to expect newcomers to care all that much about other people’s children. In fact, the pathetic state of public education is a principal reason why so many young parents leave NYC once their children reach a certain age.

  • problem is, 12:47…people don’t want to leave the city anymore.

    parents need to step up to the plate and contribute to their community. that’s the whole point of living in an urban environment.

    the suburbs are dying. they are not good for the environment. they are not good for many people’s soul.

    parents with kids should be getting more actively involved in turning some of these schools around.

  • I plan on sending my daughter to PS 17 when she’s old enough in a few years. I went to an inner city public school and I think it was fine. Elementary education is not rocket science, and from what I’ve read the local schools aren’t that bad.

    Besides, an uncrowded school seems to be to be a good thing. As does not dragging a five-year old across the river and then explaining to her how she’s better than the kids on her block, who have to go to the local school because their parents don’t care.

    No, seriously. How do you explain it to your kids? Do you let them play with the locals? What message do you think they’re learning?

  • There are many exceptional public schools in New York City. Unfortunately the exceptional ones that are on par with or better than some private schools are not in our district. I send my children to public schools but none in our district because I DO feel that I would be “sacrificing” their education if I did so. I just want to do the best for them that I can possibly do. What is wrong with that? Thats just my feeling about it. Feelings aren’t facts. Whats good for one family isn’t necessarily good for another. If anyone feels hurt by someone else stating their feelings and opinions then they are insecure with their own convictions to begin with.

  • I.S. 318 on Lorimer St. in Williamsburg is among the best junior high schools in the city. The administration has been at the school for 30+ years, as have many teachers there. The school was great before Williamsburg started to change and will be great long after. By the way, I.S. 318 has almost 1,500 students, up from close to 1,000 in 2004. Also, be careful about using DOE stats about a school’s capacity. There numbers assume using every inch of space in a building for classrooms- eliminating bathrooms, teachers’ cafeteria, meeting rooms, supply rooms, etc.

  • there are enough yuppies in williamsburg now that if everyone sent their kids to public school they would have the critical mass to make a difference. and frankly I think they will start sending them. it’s good if the schools are going down in enrollment. that just means the tipping point to making them majority educated middle class parents will be attained more quickly. sorry to sound like an elitist, but that is simply the reality with education.

  • The attitude that other people’s children are not your concern as a parent of a school aged child is part of the larger problem of failing public ed. While I understand not making your child “part of an experiment”, I cannot help but think that this myoptic approach aids in dooming somebody else’s kids to a life of failure.

    We all pay for failing kids, one way or another, usually in taxes to support the police, courts, drug programs, single parent programs, welfare and the prison system. We pay for it by higher insurance premiums, and higher retail prices.

    Most of the parents of these failing kids were failing kids from a failing school system themselves. If we don’t draw a line in the sand, and say “it stops here”, we are only letting the system perpetuate till eternity. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that simply exiting yourself from the problem is not it.

    I sympathise with non-affluent parents in this situation. Your kid’s safety and education cannot be trifled with. We are all smart people. Can’t we come up with a better solution?

  • 1:01 here, you’d think I didn’t go to school with the spelling mistakes. Sorry.

  • In response to 12:54 Whats beautiful about growing up in NYC is that you can apply to any public school that you want to. There are more choices out there for us. If you don’t like your local public school you can try another. We are not confined to our zoned schools like people are in rural and suburban American.

    Chances are you won’t have to explain to your kids why they aren’t playing with the locals because alot of them will probably already be at what ever school they go to across the river. I live on a block in Greenpoint and some of the kids go to the local public school, some go to other public schools some go to Catholic School and some go to private school. They all play together regardless.

  • The post here assumes that lots of families are movining in b/c lots of housing is being built. Actually, most of the smaller developments that have already come on-line in the area that was rezoned and the surrounding neighborhood have only studios and 1BRs. These are not the type of units that people with school-age children buy. So we may see more enrollment as the larger developments around No. 10th to No. 12th and along the waterfront get CofOs.

  • To 1:01. You’d be better off getting behind a different cause. There are plenty of them out there that you might actually be able to see the fruits of your labor. Because unfortunately, we are all NOT smart people like you. As stated in an earlier post, many of the people who live in Williamsburg/Greenpoint don’t see anything that needs improving in our schools and don’t want your help. They just see you as upsetting the status quo.

  • PS 34 in Greenpoint is an excellent school and has very good test scores. The parents of most of the pupils there place an emphasis on education, and the school reflects that. Williamsburg is another matter entirely.

  • The test scores at 31 and 34 are exceptional. Some of the best in the country. How are the facilities? Do the kids get ample recreation? I have been informed that at PS 34 you have to walk through one classroom to get to the other. The administration at PS 31 doesn’t believe in recess.

  • 12:46 – I am not saying YOU are sacrificing your child by sending them to public schools – 1st some public schools are excellent 2nd – nothing in life is perfect so while 1 child may get a lot out of public schools, others may not do well considering the issues that affect many public schools. Additionally some may want to emphasis different lessons to your children (diversity for 1) over the 3 R’s

    BUT

    That is your choice – and anyone who criticizes a parent for choosing one school over another – when their goal is for the child to get the best education (they feel) is possible is an a$$.

    Sure we all have a duty to help our fellow citizen and contribute to the common good but to accuse people of selfishness and indulgence for not sending their kids to a failing public schoool is absolutly ridiculous.

    BTW on a RE note – there does seem to be a bit of inconsistency among many of you Brownstoners – When a new ‘luxury’ development goes up in some of the fritter parts of the borough everyone here loves to bitch and moan “gross yuppies”, “they are going to ruin the neighborhood”, “their kids are spoiled” etc… Yet now it seems that if these “neighborhood ruining, starbucks drinking, rich rent raising spawners” would just send their kids to the public school we could save generations of the underprivileged.

    So which is it?

  • I think the number of children being born in NYC as a whole has declined for a number of years, despite what it may appear.

  • anyone who doesn’t think that there is an active community of parents in the burg/greenpoint has NO CLUE what they are talking about. i moved from the slope where i felt like no one was interested in working together or being friendly to the burg last year where parents STICK together and befriend each other like crazy.

    there is a very very active yahoo group called brooklybabyhui and there is also parents11211.

    besides the folks investing in the local area – PS 134 is actually overcrowded – there is the added benefit of being able to get to all the NYC schools easily. we live off the bedford L and send our daughter to a private pre-school in union square. We have so many options for elementary school – especially compared to being so far from the city in the slope. PS 321 – is so totally overcrowded. it’s one of the reasons we moved.

    There are 4 and 5 star schools in both the burg and greenpoint that will probably get many of these new families. Remember, many of the new people moving in have babies/toddlers and not elementary aged children. it will take 5 years ish to see these kids enter the existing schools.

    anyway, my friends in the hood do talk about banding together to send our kids to the local schools. we realize that it is the best solution.

  • Many parents with older kids before you have had the same idea and banded together to send their kids to the local schools only to be throughly disappointed and pulled them out. I hope it works out for you and your friends. While there are 4 and 5 star schools in the hood, just remember, test scores aren’t everything. Kids need libraries, physical education and school yards. Our district needs schools with better facilities. I wouldn’t consider putting my son in a local school until that happens.

  • oops, I meant 132 the Conselyea School at 320 Manhattan Avenue.

  • PS 17 has an amazing library and playground.

  • The building that is currently PS 34 was originally a Civil War hospital, which is why, in some cases, the children and teachers have to walk thru one class to get to another. They have made it work by building bookcases to mask the traffic and teaching everyone to be respectful of others when passing thru. Not a bad thing to learn in the city.

    Despite this, their test scores are very high. Hats off to the teachers and admin for making it all work. Other schools with box rooms don’t fare nearly as well.

  • 1:42, I applaud your intentions! I agree with what 11:46 said. Start now and by the time you have gotten to the school of your choice, it will be that much better. Don’t be shy. Call the school(s) you have in mind and let them know you are interested and willing to help. They could hook you up with the PTA and guide you to other avenues where help is needed and input is valued. They will be glad for the help! Whereas it used to seem that fundraising was the main issue at most schools, I’ve learned five years after putting my own kids in a public school that politics has lot to do with gaining valuable attention for your school. As my oldest approaches middle school age, I can’t say our elementary school is yet at its peak potential, but it is amazing, and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. All the work that myself and an incredible posse of dedicated parents have done over the years have surely changed our school for the better. Our children receive not only diversity but the three r’s big time (re:1:33), and then some. People who choose to leave the neighborhood are within their rights to do so and do not deserve criticsm for their decisions. But those who stay are also doing so out of intelligent thought and love for their children (not for any social experimentation). We do work harder for these local schools and probably fight more for them, so it isn’t all that relaxing alot of the time, but change has come and more will be on the way. We all do what feels best for our personal situations, no? Good luck!

  • Its great to know that there are people out there that have the time and have made this their full time job fighting this noble cause. They make it better for the rest of us who spend much of our life working at jobs, trying to make ends meet.

  • think that PS 17 will get there. but, many of the new buildings zoned for 17 aren’t yet completed (or started), and it is true that many of the current children living in the condo buildings are not kindergarten age yet. in our complex, there are tons of kids, but the oldest is 2 1/2. think it will happen over the next couple of years.

    The schools will get there because the gentrification of the burg will continue and continue. 10,000 new units are coming on just the waterfront alone. most of the property on roebling from 7th to the park and Union is going condo. Tons of new apartments around McCarren too.

    also, there is a 50 MILLION dollar re-do of the McCarren pool coming next year + with the renovation of the water front state park about to happen and the new parks that the developers are going to put in on the waterfront – families will continue to come.

    many families do not want to leave the city and the burg will offer them close, affordable, new spaces. it’s an obvious slam dunk.

  • I’d love to help with the whole “parents improving school drive” but since right now my local schools are crap and I may likely have to opt for private school – I am too busy working 12hr days saving all the $ I can for the $20,000 a year tuition.

    P.S. Sorry for being such a “taker” , maybe in my next life I can come back as a non-working single parent on SSI who is too busy watching TV to be a “taker” (and of course also too busy to prepare one of my many children with even the most basic skills necessary to function in a school environment) – God can you believe those new rich condo owners, they “take” so much that despite having full time jobs they actually have time to teach their kids stuff like reading and counting and patience – it is sickening how selfish some people are!

  • maybe you shouldn’t have had kids then, 3:18.

    you sound too busy to give them or anyone else the attention they deserve.

    your self-inflicted busy schedule is not an excuse for not giving back to the community.

    you sound a little nutso.

  • It sure is, 3:18. Everyone knows poor people don’t have jobs. I mean your nanny is working for you out of the goodness of her heart, right?

  • About PS 17 –

    In 2002 the school was awarded a coveted grant from the Robin Hood Foundation, an organization that builds state-of-the-art libraries in selected New York City public schools. The result: on the school’s first floor there is a fabulous library, designed with drop-bulb hanging lamps, funky chairs, and colorful carpets, not to mention 7,000 books, new computers, and a selection of magazines.

    Students receive instruction in music, art, social studies, science, and computers. In addition, PS 17 has a “Chess in the Schools” program, which teaches math and logic skills through the game of chess. However, the school lacks a gymnasium. The school does have a huge schoolyard and, weather permitting, students can play outside for recess.

  • Wow! Nasty has no limits! 2:56 why do you assume that everyone who helps their school is doing so full-time and has nohing alse going on in their lives? Why take a positive comment from 2:16 that is in no way dissing anyone and turn it into something smarmy? Do you think that all people who contribute to their society, schools or otherwise are doing so because they are independently wealthy and they have nothing better to do? We’re all trying to make ends meet but there’s no harm in trying to be accountable in the community at the same time. Stay at work, please. Your lack of compassion is obvious and your need to justify yourself at the expense of others is disgusting.

  • 3:18 isn’t nutso. She/he can give to back to the community in many different ways. Working to improve the schools, while being a noble cause, isn’t the only one out there. It certainly isn’t one that will pay off during her child’s time in school. Look what happened to all those noble do-good parents who tried to improve PS 84 last year. They were called facists and other horrible things. And most of them went running for the hills to other public schools schools like Community Roots, schools in the east village and lower east side and private schools. And rightly so. Lets not spin our wheels here, people. Most of the locals see nothing wrong with the state of the public schools in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. If you want to change things you will be met with resistance.

  • Ugh, 3:45. Its just smarter to pick your battles. Does the majority of the parents who send their kids to your school even want or appreciate your help and hard work? Revisit PS 84………

  • 4:02 – yes, it’s going to take a couple of years. when the new people clearly outnumber the “locals” the burg’s schools will be as good as any. the numbers are coming as previously posters have pointed out.

    ironically, the “locals” who don’t want change will also benefit tremendously. owners of property in the area will also benefit regardless of whether they have kids or not.

  • So are you prescribing to just do nothing, 4:10? What does it matter if a majority notices change or not, as long as positive change occurs? I thought it’s quality education that’s being sought after, not a pat on the back.

  • Of course they will benefit but it will not happen in “a couple of years”. That is naive to think so. There have been waves of parents before you like me that have kids in High School that have tried to fight this battle before. My son attended a local public school in Williamsburg for a short time. I ended up pulling him out and sending him to Manhattan to PS 116. Looks like nothing has changed.

  • Where does it say that I have an obligation to sacrifice my children to make the public schools better?

  • Hey 4:21 – If you are seeking quality education for your child wouldn’t you want the best possible quality? Do you really think the best quality available to your child is in Williamsburg? Its not about a pat on the back. Only pat on the back i am looking for is knowing I did the best I could possibly do for my child – not patting myself on the back for being some kind of local community hero for everyone else to admire.

  • To 4:21. The local schools were operating just fine before you got here and still are. We don’t need your help. How did we ever survive without you. Go start a Charter School somewhere. Thing are fine the way they are.

  • With all of the parents that have commented about pulling kids out of Williamsburg schools, not one has actually given us a reason why — except to allude vaguely that the “locals” — (and since I’ve spent most of my adult life in this neighborhood does that include me, by the way or not?) — were hostile.

    Could you, please elaborate? Or give actual examples? I’m interested.

  • 4:33 how do you know that the local schools were operating just fine? which schools are you referring to exactly?

    in any case, thousands and thousands of new people are coming to williamsburg. the new kids will enter the schools. it is going to happen. many of the poorer kids will leave when their families move because the rents go sky high or their buildings are torn down to be turned into condos, but the poor kids that stay in the area will benefit from the well educated parents who push the teachers and the administration to make the best possible school that it can be.

  • 4:29, by a pat on the back I was responding to 4:10′s comment on garnering other people’s pats (appreciation), not my own. And yes, I truly believe that my child is getting a quality education right here in Williamsburg. While it may not be the fanciest, I believe it’s the best choice for achieving a good balance for my family. That’s not to say that work isn’t needed, but what public school is not lacking in one way or another? Why should this kind of thing be questioned by people like you?

  • 3:35 my local public school doesnt stink because the population is poor

    - my local public school stinks because there is unfortunately a large segment of the population who attend the school who have families who put no value on education, do nothing to prepare their children to learn, take no concern regarding their childrens prospects as adults and view teachers and school administrators in an adversarial manner (an attitude which they pass to their kids)

    Poor education is definitely a cause for poverty yet in our wealthy society poverty is only a casually related to getting a poor education simply because if you are poor it is difficult to get your kids away from those whose detrimental attitudes and lifestyle destroy the learning environment. Thats what charter schools and such are all about – giving poor and middle income kids (who want an education) a fair shot at one.

    But dont fool yourself no amount of $, no influx of rich kids, and no social program will provide any reasonable hope to kids who are entering an information based economy when their parents do nothing to even help insure literacy.

  • Really? I thought charter schools were about making a profit in what shouldn’t be a for-profit industry. I also thought they were a nice way to get around offering teachers union benefits. Isn’t that also true?

  • “We’re all trying to make ends meet”

    Hate to break it to you doll, but people trying to make ends meet are not on brownstoner posting about where to send their child to school while sitting in their brand new million dollar condo in williamsburg.

  • 5:18 hit the nail on the head. There are plenty of “poor” kids attending schools and doing well. This is because their parents buy into the concept of the importance of education. Look at Community Roots in Fort Greene. Plenty of poor families along with families who are more well to do go a little out of their way to send their kids there. They all have one thing in common – a certain idea of education. I guess you can call that – “likemindedness”. Many parents have pulled their kids out of Williamsburg schools because there wasn’t enough of that “likemindedness”. I think that is the ultimate reason why people don’t just take what they are given and opt out of the local public schools in our neighborhood – to be in a place of “likemindedness”. Nothing wrong with that.

  • Public schools are the one area that puts liberal values in Brooklyn to the test. I am always shocked at the intensely judgemental and condescending comments I hear from supposedly liberal people when they talk about this topic. It’s gross. Justify it however you want, like “not wanting to sacrifice my child’s education” but it’s still gross. Slap me if I ever talk like that, sorry. I don’t know what we’ll decide ourselves, but I do know this – if I choose to send our kids to private schools I will certainly not turn my back in sneering derision on the public schools of my community. These are the schools some of my neighbors’ children attend. There’s nothing stopping me or anybody from donating supplies, or helping out in some way at the local public schools.

  • As I read the blog, It shames me to hear that individuals who have come from such various areas to reside in WIlliamsburg are not willing to improve the neighborhood they have gentrified; instead you prefer to segregate it further with the “haves and have nots”. It is upsetting to hear that this being NYC and BRooklyn that there are so many narrow minded and selfish individuals who only care about what benefits themselves and screw everyone else. How dare some of you assume that the “original” inhabitants of Williamsburg do not want better for their children. Why don’t you do your research and find out how much $$$ is spent in the Burg for education. You will all realize that this neighborhood was not inhabited by affluent NYorkers but hard working, blue collar individuals who before you guys arrived had to settle for the scraps that the good old NYC provided them and still provides. But excuse me!! When affluent “ANglos” shout they are always heard as you hear the Burg will be getting new schools that will definitely push out the remaining “original” inhabitants of course as always by Overpricing education (High tuitions). As per a previous mention,you should do your homework with regard to the #s of individuals who truly receive SSI and check out the racial breakdown and maybe you will rethink what you say next time.
    We should think about what can benefit all not a few!!!! But who am I fooling the money talks!!!!

  • Can even one parent who pulled their kids out of Williamsburg schools provide a specific example? Vague claims of “likemindedness” just make me think you’re all a bunch of horrible snobs. Which I admit, having met many of you, I suspected anyways.

  • I would rather spend my time helping out at the public school my children attend. Unfortunately that school is not in this neighborhood. The local public schools here don’t serve my kids, it doesn’t make sense for me to serve them. Its not like I haven’t given them a chance. I don’t believe people are “turnig their backs in sneering derision”. (that is a rather attention grabbing dramatic statement) Remember ps 84? I guess when I become rich, get an inheritance from relatives (that won’t happen) I will donate money and time to schools that my kids don’t attend. That might help me deal with my shame regarding my middle class privledges.

  • “The local public schools here don’t serve my kids, it doesn’t make sense for me to serve them. Its not like I haven’t given them a chance.”

    Back that up. What haven’t they done? Aside from the locals not liking you (if it was you) I’m not really getting a sense of what the issue is.

  • reading this thread makes me realize why i dislike williamsburg so much.

  • i love williamsburg. if you don’t like it, maybe you never lived here or it’s not for you. this is my 4th brooklyn hood (cobble hill, prospect hts and the slope before).

    i am willing to help the schools when my kid gets older. think that whatever did happen at 84 should be spelled out altho we are not zoned for it anyway. we are zoned for 17. i am not a snob, but if i try 17, and it doesn’t work out for my kid, then i do agree with other posters that i probably will do whatever is best for her.

    this is a changing neighborhood, and with people like myself spending over a million to move here, it will not be what it was. this is new york city. neighborhoods change.

  • Williamsburg is great. One of the greatest things about it is that its a stones throw to Manhattan. Thats what brought me here in the first place over 20 years ago. A quick ride over the Williamsburg bridge or 1 stop on the L train and you have access to some of the best schools in the city. When its that easy, why settle for less?

  • sounds like the couples with kids in williamsburg are very similar to the entitled-skinny- jeans-wearing-20-somethings that made the neighborhood cool enough for you all to decide to raise your children there in the first place.

    how ironic. i smell a movie.

    new york gives us all so much every day. i’m so curious to know how many of us give back even 1% as much as it’s given to us.

  • Yes me too, 7:51, that and it’s butt mugly.

  • Speaking of ironic, does anyone else not find it interesting that judging from this thread, the new motto of Williamsburg should be…

    “BEST SCHOOLS IN THE CITY”

    Hey…give it to them. You heard it here folks.

    Park Slope is getting hipper every day.

  • As sure as you can set your clock, after one year at 17 you will be looking for another school.

  • I think the poster meant the “best schools in the city” are found on the Manhattan side of the Williamsburg bridge. Not the other way around.

  • Every one is foced to give back in the form of taxes. Some of the highest in the country.

  • They don’t give back, 8:08 pm. They brought their suburban attitudes to the city, the suburban lifestyle where people live isolated in their houses like pods then drive in their SUVs windows up, sealing out the world, past their neighbors in the subdivision they don’t even know and have never spoken to.

    I grew up in the suburbs and I can’t stand that attitude and way of living. I can’t understand why someone would want to recreate it here. If you are going to be in the city BE in the CITY. 100%.

  • Actually Brooklyn has the lowest property taxes anywhere, 8:23 pm. Look it up. Nassau County LI you pay $18,000 a year in property taxes for a 3 BR. But it does fund the schools there. People in Brooklyn want something for nothing. If the property taxes were not so low in Brooklyn there’s no way most would be able to afford million dollar condos in Williamsburg. Ah the irony.

  • I’m with you 8:28.

    For all that people make fun of Park Slope, the thing that makes it truly special is the sense of community and ACTUAL action that has been taken over the years by MANY people in the neighborhood to do things to improve it…whether it’s the schools, prospect park, recycling or grocery stores…

    Do you think a Food Coop would ever work in Williamsburg??

    Hell no.

    People there don’t have the same sharing community spirit that exists in Park Slope. And of course not everyone in PS, just like there are some in Williamsburg that have it…It’s just that there are A LOT more of those types here…enough to create a tipping point anyway.

  • Talking INCOME Taxes. Many of you wouldn’t know about that would you……….

  • “As sure as you can set your clock, after one year at 17 you will be looking for another school.”

    Why? Back that up, Ms. “I only exported my kids because I had to.” What, are you afraid of local retaliation? You said your kids don’t go to school in the neighborhood anymore. Why not tell us why? If there’s a valid reason I’d like to hear it.

  • PS 84………… If you don’t know what happened there last year, then you are ignorant.

  • sorry, lived in Park slope for years. must have missed the community. people were total a-holes. summed up by a car that wasn’t moved before a block party, so of course, it was totally trashed right in front of my house. sure the poor soul was on vacation and didn’t know.

    hardly anyone was ever friendly at all. people are very pushy about their agendas and politics. great neighborhood if you want to be assaulted by bumper stickers, banners in windows and pollsters stopping you on your way to dinner.

    everytime i tried to work on my house, my crazy neighbor would start screaming at me because he thought i was somehow going to mess up his roof – don’t ask. inexplicable.

    i wanted to like it. but couldn’t handle the people.

    in the burg, people are are just great. everyone i meet is so nice and cool. the kids all know each other. we are very happy.

  • Okay, where is the vaunted sense of “community” when I can’t even get an answer regarding PS 84 or any issues with 17? How can you sit there with a straight face and talk about giving things back and not even bother to tell your neighbor what happened?

    And yes, yes I am ignorant. My kid is barely school age. Just how soon was I supposed to ask these questions? Pre-conception?

  • Um, so the local community activists that had been working to improve the schools for the last twenty years dared to have an issue with parents11211′s motives? Why is that surprising? Why is that an issue? Is it still? Couldn’t you all manage to work together? Aren’t their concerns understandable? I have them myself, regarding this “charter school” for little Utne and Bliss and all of the other hipster kids.

    It seems to me that Williamsburg has low-population schools in a city where almost every other district suffers from severe overcrowding. It also has interested parents from all walks of life. Why is there a problem? Why is this a problem?

  • if you are looking for a good education for a middle school in williamsburg you have to look at ms 577 which is attached to ps 132. it is a small school with a wonderful staff and administration. they offer regents classes and a good percentage of graduates come from 132. both schools offer a high quality education and serve the community well. while 577 might be housed in modules if you are looking for an A+ education for your child(ren) you need to look no further than 577.

  • 9:29 i personally don’t know the story behind 84 that is alluded to here, but i do know that i find all the parents i meet are terrific. do sign up for brooklynbabyhui (yahoo group)for parents. it’s very active.

    i have met such great people. good luck!

  • wow.

    williamsburg feels so unfriendly just from these horrific posts.

    and ms debbie downer at 9:13….i can see just from your posts that no…you wouldn’t like park slope. you’re right.

    you’re too obsessed with yourself.

  • “in the burg, people are are just great. everyone i meet is so nice and cool. the kids all know each other. we are very happy. ”

    Uhhhh….Broker, much?

    WHO talks like that?

    Is it just a coincidence that your comments coincide with the news that North8, Northside Piers AND 5th Street Lofts are offering huge discounts because Williamburg’s inventory of mediocre condos is begining to resemble that of Miami and Las Vegas.

    Yeah, didn’t think so.

  • public school is for retards.

  • 11:31 sorry, not a broker. i am just being sincere. have owned in several brooklyn neighborhoods and am blown away by how many friends i have made in williamsburg in less than a year. i actually work in photography/advertising. i’m in my early 40′s and haven’t made this many new friends any where else i have lived. just take my kid to mccarren and run into people i have met this year. everyone IS nice and cool.

    i emailed with several neighbors just today. we are constantly popping in and out of each others apartment. our kids hang out together on the sidewalk in front of our building all the time. it really is great.

  • I like Williamsburg as a parent too, but this thread is making me like it a bit less. Why do I suddenly feel like I am not cool enough to know about PS 84? Why do I feel like there’s no issue, except in the minds of a few parents who read something about the latest trends in progressive education and feel as compelled to follow that trend as they do everything else?

  • Crain’s article:

    Textbook Lesson in Gentrification

    Brooklyn housing boom causes clash as new arrivals reject city schools

    By Erik Engquist, Crain’s New York Business

    Published: October 7, 2007

    The city’s ballyhooed rezoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn is supposed to create a vibrant, integrated community with whites and minorities, rich and poor living together. A proverbial melting pot.

    But in local public schools, it is fanning a cauldron. Incoming parents–largely white and well-educated–are rejecting neighborhood public schools en masse. Parents seeking progressive reforms are meeting fierce resistance from an entrenched school bureaucracy. Classrooms are emptying out as newcomers decline to fill the seats vacated by minorities priced out of the area.

    “When parents come in and say a school’s not good enough for their children, it’s a very sensitive issue,” says Kate Yourke, an activist parent who moved to Williamsburg from the Upper West Side in 1985. “Parents were quite naive about the implications.”

    The May 2005 rezoning of northern Brooklyn by the Bloomberg administration and the City Council has triggered a boom of luxury apartment projects. In the next few years, tens of thousands of affluent residents will plunk themselves down in what has long been a poor, heavily ethnic area.

    The schoolyard fights of the last two years point to uglier times ahead for the administration’s most ambitious experiment with accelerated gentrification.

    Consider what happened to Brooke Parker, who led an effort to increase arts education at P.S. 84 in Williamsburg. “I was running for the school leadership team, and I got heckled by faculty at a meeting,” she says. “The faculty was trying to push out parents they didn’t want.”

    It worked: Ms. Parker and the others pulled their kids from the school.

    It’s a common scenario in District 14, where many schools feature tightly controlled classrooms in which test preparation, handwriting drills and homework are emphasized. Some schools have no recess, and children are rarely allowed to speak to each other, even at lunch. Students might have just one gym class a week but spend two hours a day on penmanship. Exams begin in kindergarten.

    The rigid approach, which produces admirable test scores in some District 14 schools, is typical of conservative, immigrant-dominated communities.

    “From when you drop your children off to when you pick them up, they’re not allowed to have fun,” says one white mother who expects to transfer her child to a private elementary school next year.

    With few exceptions, the neighborhood’s new arrivals are sending their kids anywhere but their zoned schools. Many use false addresses to enroll them in schools in lower Manhattan. Others opt for a charter school in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, or private or magnet schools as far as an hour away. As a result, enrollment fell 12% over two years in the district’s 20 elementary schools; 13 were left at less than 80% of capacity and seven at less than 60%. The five conventional middle schools are now just 56% full on average.

    Developers are worried

    The problem is not lost on the developers marketing new apartments to white professionals from Manhattan who demand schools with parental involvement, field trips, hands-on projects and the like.

    “We have thought about it,” says Ron Moelis, who is building hundreds of luxury units in Williamsburg. “I don’t have an answer for you. There’s talk of a charter school, a new magnet school or maybe even a new private school. It would be great if that occurs.”

    No new schools, says city

    With so many vacant desks, the Department of Education says it won’t build new schools. Instead, District 14 Superintendent James Quail says he will try to accommodate parents who seek “more opportunities for children to think and develop their own learning styles in classrooms, and more opportunities for parents to engage.”

    But the department has given principals great autonomy, and many resist change.

    “[Former Deputy Chancellor] Carmen Farina said that all you need is 10 families to move in and help turn a school around,” says Pamela Wheaton, the director of InsideSchools.org, which gives District 14 schools mixed reviews. “But if you have a principal who’s diametrically opposed. …”

    Some parents are plotting to start self-contained boutique schools within existing district buildings. Ms. Yourke, whose 7-year-old son attends public school in East Williamsburg, opposes that move. She is leading a small group of parents who are trying to move District 14 out of the 1950s. They aired their grievances at a powwow in June, but little has happened since.

    “Our last chance to integrate these communities is by raising our children together, and I don’t think the Department of Education has a mind-set or a plan for how that can happen,” Ms. Yourke says. “They have been completely negligent in dealing with this.”

    Sidebar:
    NO HELP FOR THE GIFTED

    Programs for the gifted, used by many districts to attract middle-class parents, don’t exist in District 14.

    Officials tried to launch a program last year, but they promoted it poorly and located it at P.S. 297–a 99% black and Latino school in an area so dangerous that students are forbidden from using the playground.

    Only three students accepted spots in the gifted program, so it was canceled.

    Infographic:
    SCHOOL DISTRICT 14
    Includes Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and part of Bedford-Stuyvesant

Enrollment, October 2006 19,652

Two-year change in K-5 enrollment -12%

ETHNIC BREAKDOWN
    Hispanic 62%
    Black 25%
    White 9%
    Asian/other 4%

Students with Limited English proficiency 15%

Sources: NYC and NYS departments of education


Comments? EEngquist@crain.com

  • Thanks Kate for posting that article.

  • What is so funny is the idea that parents involvement “AT the school” has virtually anything to do with achievement.
    Sorry kids but it is the teachers who do the teaching at schools…
    Parent involvement WITH THEIR KIDS and and emphasis on education is what makes successful schools (and students).

    Obviously if a parent is involved AT school they are likely involved at home – but if everyone just stayed home but helped their kids get prepared for school and supported their schools efforts plus supplemented with a good learning environment at home – it would have the exact same effect. Your bake sales and annoying interfering are doing nothing to help the kids learn.

    However, the issue in Williamsburg is not about getting the kids a “GOOD” education it is about trying to get a “PROGRESSIVE” education. It makes perfect sense that such an AGENDA would be resisted.

    The other amusing part of this debate is that it only swirls around Elementary and Middle School – which makes sense – I have to wonder how many of you so called ‘school activists’ will be sending your kids to public high schools if they dont get into some specialized school (not many I venture a guess)

  • Williamsburg is a mess.

    And gross.

  • Another issue that needs to be raised is that while there are many great teachers currently working in district 14, more needs to be done to attract the best and brightest to want to work in our schools now and in the future. That currently isn’t happening. That is not the fault of parents, kids or administration at our schools. You can blame the DOE for not helping to make our schools an attractive workplace. Look at the conditions the teachers have to put up with at MS577. Its appalling.

  • 8:37pm said:
    “Talking INCOME Taxes. Many of you wouldn’t know about that would you……….”

    Income taxes don’t fund the local schools in a community. Property taxes do. You’re the one who is uninformed, not me, or the other people here.

  • Now you are taking that statement out of context. The poster responded to 8:08 pm saying, “new york gives us all so much every day. i’m so curious to know how many of us give back even 1% as much as it’s given to us.”

    All working people give back to the community in the form of city, state and federal income taxes which in NYC are some of the highest in the country. Thats all. Don’t try to twist it. The comment wasn’t specific to schools.

  • 11:13 A “mess” and “gross” Based on what? who asked you. live in a beautiful building on a lovely street with terrific restaurants and bars and shopping down the road from the re-done track and ther soccer field in McCarren. Don’t know what you are referring to, but keep your negativity to yourself….

  • “live in a beautiful building on a lovely street with terrific restaurants and bars and shopping down the road ”

    you did not describe 95% of williamsburg. you just described park slope.

    the TRACK is your other example???

    McCarren Park is the Quad at Ohio State.

  • In reference to the article that Kate posted. The sidebar is interesting. Before that school in Bed Sty was put in, children in our district could apply to any gifted program like the one at PS 116 (not just the ones that are self contained citywide)because our district didn’t have one. When they put that gifted program in at the Bed Sty school, that changed the policy and kids in our district were only allowed to apply to that gifted program (along with the citywide contained schools like Anderson and Nest). Now that this program has been eliminated things are back to the way they were before so parents in district 14 who are interested going to school outside the district can apply to gifted programs in any other district. Thats just one vehicle you can use to get your kids in a public school (without faking an address) outside of the choices currently available in our district.

  • williamsburg is a community rich in tradition and history and an influx of artists can only help beautify the area…true the pool is closed and there have been alot of factories are turning into apartments and some of the best restaurants are in the neighbrohood…ie DuMont…Bamontes etc. also the tradition of having a feast which has been around for over 100 years…not many neighborhoods can say that…

  • 1:15 – property taxes fund schools in the suburbs. In the city, schools are funded through all taxes. The post was referring the comment that suburbs pay higher taxes – they pay higher property taxes, but not necessarily higher taxes overall.

    As for this thread – this is pretty incredible, the passion on both sides. I applaud Kate for wanting to stay in the system and improve things. That’s the best way to improve schools for the entire community. Having a choice of quality schools – both traditional and progressive – benefits everyone.

    As for the parents who don’t want to “experiment” with their kids, who can argue that? Yes, it would be better for the community as a whole, but that is in the long run, and your kid’s education is a pretty short run proposition.

    Given the huge number of pre-school aged kids in the neighborhood, hopefully this will work out in the coming years.

    The one thing that really bothers me is the parents who lie and cheat to get their kids into non-zoned schools. Crains alluded to it, but it is a big problem for 132 – generally considered the most progressive school in the nabe. I know four or five families who send their kids there, and only one is zoned for the school. The rest should be at 84 or 17, but their parents lie and submit false addresses. This is way different than sending your kid to a choice school, going through a lottery, etc. Here, you are a) making an overcrowded school uneccessarily more overcrowded, and b) taking your kid away from schools (84 and 17) that could benefit from the involvement of parents who care (obviously you care enough to lie for the benefit of your kids).

    And as for 84, I still haven’t seen a rational explanation of “what happened” – and I’m close enough to the situation to know that it was a big mess. Those folks asking for more information are still in the dark.

  • Hi folks. Erik Engquist here. I wrote the story in Crain’s. I’m gratified — and also a little taken aback — that it sparked such an intense thread on this blog. The vitriol is not unexpected, but startling nonetheless. I want to say it’s counterproductive, but on the other hand it might help to air out the dirty laundry a bit. So, thank you to everyone who commented.

    I only had 25 column inches to work with, so I couldn’t possibly get into the kind of detail that some posters above are seeking. Second, I do not have first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of District 14; what I did was report the perspective of some parents. I can elaborate a bit here on what they said, but I won’t pretend that I have all the answers or know exactly what has happened, and is happening, in District 14 schools.

    So with that disclaimer, I will try to summarize the issue. First, schools are complex organisms. There’s no simple scale that says on a scale of 1 to 10, P.S. XX is a “9″ and P.S. YY is a “5.” Two sets of parents who value education highly can have opposite opinions about the same school. One family may want a highly structured environment where every student in a classroom is sitting quietly and facing the teacher, and the kids are all doing the same work, like test prep or penmanship drills. Another family may want the kids separated into small groups, sitting in circles and working at their own pace, and to have parents invited into classrooms on a regular basis. The first family may want kids to sit quietly at lunch and focus on eating. The second family may want a more casual, social atmosphere where kids can let loose a bit — at the very least during lunch period. Call it progressive education or whatever you want, but it definitely places less emphasis on conduct and drilling and homework. It is not surprising that parents in this latter camp are not sending their kids to schools that do not approach education in that way. Does that make them snobs? Not any more than it makes parents in the 3-Rs camp Neanderthals.

    A separate issue is school quality, as opposed to style. I lacked the time, space, and information to address that in my story. But I can assure you that some parents are more disenchanted with the quality of their local school than with the progressiveness of the school’s approach to education.

    A group of dedicated parents can change the direction of a school, but only if the school leadership goes along. If the parents’ ideas are rejected at every turn — and indeed there is open hostility, as there was at P.S. 84 last year — they are going to pack up their toys and go home.

    Finally, two notes on specific comments above:
    1. As a previous poster noted, city schools are funded by a whole lot of different revenue streams, not just property taxes.
    2. Schools’ student capacities are not determined based on the total square footage of the building. A school that is 100% full does NOT have children taking classes in the cafeteria, auditorium, and gymnasium. It means that every potential classroom seat is filled.

  • Wow, thanks alot Erik. I was the parent that was being assualted for not having the right information on how schools were funded. I feel so vindicated now. Also, being a parent who tried and wanted to keep my kid in the neighborhood but was not thrilled about the quality of education my son was receiving I feel I am not talking out my a$$ in dismissing the local school. I think everyone should check out their local school at least for one year Some people decide to stay and some don’t.

  • I know a family who lie about their address to get their 3 children into PS 321. And worse, these are people who could afford private schools.

    This just illustrates the ethics of the narcissistic my-child-first parents today. My parents would never have tried to pull something like that. They’d have looked down on it. If they wanted a certain school district they moved us there.

  • 12:49, Erik said schools were funded in NYC to quote him, “not just property taxes”. Meaning property taxes certainly do fund the local schools, at least in part. Meaning the low low low property taxes everyone enjoys in Brooklyn provide less money to the schools, but allow families to afford to purchase properties far more costly than they could normally were they paying property taxes as high as the suburbs. The suburbs which have better schools. Which I found ironic. That’s all.

  • Its a shame that there is such disparity amongst the schools withing NYC that people have to lie in order to get their kids a good education. I am sure the family that lies about their address would move to the district that houses PS 321 if they could afford to.

  • There is nothing narcissistic about wanting to do the best you can for your child. Should it be “my child last”? Is that how you think?

  • What’s the point in wringing one’s hands over all this. Mere academics aren’t enough to make a kid turn out to be a good person or to live a good life. It’s not enough to ensure independent financial success either. I’ve known so many brilliant people who went to the best schools in the world who are utter failures. The world is full of them.

  • It seems to me that among the demographic moving to W’burg, there is a lot of anxiety over consumer choices, especially those that lock you into a particular social community like choosing a school. Way beyond other choices like which stroller, breast or bottle, even nanny, day care or stay-at-home. These choices affect how we sense who we are, and in a time when parenting is disassembling our old identities, we are trying to put ourselves back together in a way which doesn’t shout “loser!” Maybe the passion in these posts has to do with wanting an edge for ourselves, having lost it to the continual demands and sleep deprivation or parenthood. There are plenty of successful young adults who received classic public education, and plenty of burned out young adults who were given every educational opportunity only to be unable to assimilate them into a useful foundation for a successful life. I think the answer to “what’s best for our children” can’t really be known before they are engaging with a school and you can see the dynamics in action. As long as it doesn’t have toxic mold or violence or a completely corrupt administration, your kids might thrive in surprising and healthy ways. Taking the pressure down a notch and prioritizing a sense of connection to their neighborhood might prove to be a healthy and wholesome choice for the kids, and for the whole family. Stressing about making the best possible choice and having to manage commuting and distant playdates on top of afterschool activities and homework might just be counterproductive. I do understand why families choose not to send their kids to local schools, though I didn’t realize that some of them thought so poorly of the “locals”, that’s pretty sad. I think it comes down to personal style, some find value in being involved and connected to our geographic community, in seeing what our engagement can encourage, while others prioritize being very discerning in our choices and see this kind of effort as frustrating, uncomfortable and ultimately compromised beyond any value. Building community across such vast diversity as exists here in Williamsburg is a huge challenge, and certainly is not everyone’s priority. But the hostility and defensive tone in so many of these posts is astonishing, to me it shows that many people are not entirely comfortable with how their choices reflect their values, with how they imagine those values to be perceived. So interesting that these school choices have become such fuel for judgement. I am at once entertained, horrified, and inspired that this seems to be such a powerful issue for this place in this time.

    For those of you interested or curious about issues in school District 14, there are many avenues for involvement and participation within and outsde of the school system. You can contact me at kate@yourke.com and I can try to help you connect with an appropriate application for your interest. (No nasty comments to my inbox please!)

    non-anonymously,
    Kate Yourke

  • “Being involved and connected to our geographic community” can be accomplished in many different ways outside of sending your kid to a local school. There are people who don’t have kids in our community. Are they less invested because they don’t have a family member to send to school? Just becasuse someone opts to send their kid to a school outside of the district, doesn’t mean they can’t or aren’t engaging themselves in and “prioritizing a sense of connection to their neighborhood.” While I respect what you are saying there is an undertone that reads that people who opt to send their kids to schools outside the community are not as invested in the community as those who do. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. Please correct me if I am wrong. No hostility intended.

  • ‘prioritizing a sense of connection to their neighborhood might prove to be a healthy and wholesome choice for the kids, and for the whole family. Stressing about making the best possible choice and having to manage commuting and distant playdates on top of afterschool activities and homework might just be counterproductive.’ – I find this to be a little condescending. This is speculation on your part since you have never experienced sending your kid to school outside the neighborhood. I guess if you don’t work in the city and you go right home after dropping your kid off it might be inconvenient for someone. But if the school is just a pitstop on the way to work, its really no big deal.

    Staying local would definitely be anyones number one choice in lifestyle – most definitely. But when you aren’t satisfied with Plan A you have to move to Plan B. (and its okay if you are satisfied with plan A – no judgements) It does seem daunting to have to take your kids a little further to school in the morning but once the whole family gets into the routine, it just becomes part of the daily routine. Its really not a big deal. If it were a big deal, so many people wouldn’t be doing it. Different strokes for different folks.

  • Since my child spent last year at 84 I can tell you all that there were some severe problems there. I don’t have the time to go into detail but It pretty much came down to a minority of mostly white, relatively new residents enrolling their kids in a predominantly hispanic school. There were the expected tensions of course, but the real problem is that they were exacerbated by the Principal and faculty. I think any problems could have been resolved between the parents if it wasn’t for some in the administration not taking an active role in tamping it down. Since the principal was at the time just temporary, who was seeking permanent status there, it appears she didn’t want to make any waves, and certainly not alienate the predominant hispanic population.
    What resulted was some crazy paranoia that the “newcomers” were attempting to “steal” the school away. There was a huge hispanic push-back that led to the PTA president (who was there because literally no one else wanted the job) resigning. Let me tell all of you that there was a real sincere effort on the part of the new parents to improve that school. It was met with constant resistance at every turn. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize no one is going to keep their child in a poorly performing school that has no seeming desire to change.
    As far as 17 goes it’s the furthest behind of all the schools, in terms of instituting chage, in Williamsburg. Ironically PS17 is the school that would have the heaviest new enrollment since it serves the north section which has seen the largest influx of new parents. Still at least the kids have a playground.

    FYI, here are the most recent test results from the Williamsburg elementaries:

    PS 84
    Reading 32.23 
    Mathematics 59.5

    PS 132
    Reading 64.33
    Mathematics 80.3

    ps 17
    Reading 58.2
    Mathematics 82.1

    I think what you’re seeing in Williamsburg is probably nothing out of the ordinary for a New york neighborhood that has seen rapid gentrification and demographic shift. Stresses like this are bound to happen. However, on top of the demo shift there was a simultaneous baby boom from the newer wealthier residents, and a population decline in the poorer hispanic community, all of which fueled this incendiary situation. (as in much of NYC these days it’s become impossible for lower and middle class families to live in Williamsburg/Greenpoint). Should these developers actually sell these thousands of million $ condos they are assuring these pressures will only increase.

    A couple of notes;
    1. Don’t anybody fall for this Park Slope crap. I use to live there and one reason I moved here is because it is or at least was) a true neighborhood where everyone knew each other and were willing to help each other. And if PS is so hot on the education ticket how come they don’t send their kids to the high school smack dab in the middle of 7th Ave.?

    2. I was one of the parents that “cheated” to get my kid into 84 ( It does have a very good pre-k). While I was a little conflicted about it, it helped rest my conscious to know that this city, state, and feds don’t mind taking my tax money and then not providing me with a decent school. And the NY DOE essentially says here’s your crappy school, don’t try to change it we won’t let you, and you can’t move because rents have risen so astronomically you couldn’t squeeze even 2 people let alone a family into a new home. My wife and I would have moved but, guess what, we couldn’t afford it. I think that idiot should shut up till she/he’s in the same situation.
    3. I think what Kate should know is that the source of the “anger” is the very fact that we can’t send our kids to the local schools and insure they get a good or even decent educaction. We would love nothing better than to enjoy the fruits of sending our kids to the local schools where all their friends go and their families live. I imagine every parent wants to keep the child as close to home as possible.
    Also we all applaud Kate’s enormous efforts on this issue. Thank you.

  • From my perspective, sending your kid to a school outside of the neighborhood does distance your family from their geographic community. I sent my daughter to school in lower Manhattan for 2 years, during which time we lost touch with our friends and neighbors, and we are still working to pick up that continuity. It also drew momentum away from local organizing efforts I had been involved with here in Williamsburg. I believe schools are a powerful force for community-building, a valuable social role aside from their fundamental role of academic instruction. This is one of the main motivations of the school organizing work, though with such vast diversity it is tough for everyone to feel recognized and understood, to find a sense of familiarity. Within the school, kids view each other as individuals not as representations of demographics, and they bond with each other based on their personalities and their interests. That’s where I see a lot of hope.

    The situation at PS 84 was a mess, but that particularly hostile dynamic is not present in the other schools in the District. There were a series of failures by the school administration, the DoE, and community leadership which allowed these parents’ involvement with PS 84 to become a symbol of the displacement suffered by the school community, and for those families to reap the hostility that gentrification inspired. I am sure that more of the newer residents will feel comfortable sending their kids to local schools in the coming years, but for their involvement to be successful they will need the support of the community and a structured approach towards their integration and participation. The Town Hall meeting (see http://parents11211.com/article.php?story=20070624112635578) was organized with this goal, as a forum in which elected officials and other community stakeholders could demonstrate appropriate authority over this matter and assume a partnership with the DoE to address these complex issues. Some of the frustration with the wave of parents sending their kids out of District comes from the absence of their voices in this discussion. I hope that District 14 parents considering their school choices will continue to engage with each other and with community leadership to develop a process for District 14 to successfully serve all its diverse families. We have a great deal of support from our elected officials and community based organizations, several proposals to improve the District, and many engaged families who are investing in the potential of their involvement. This is a time of tremendous change for our neighborhood and I feel this issue goes to the core of our survival as a multidimensional community in this complex city. As a citizen of this wounded neighborhood I refuse to leave it to the forces of gentrification to sort out.

  • The principal at 84 was the ap at 132/577 she is a wonderful educator/administrator/person and above all has a genuine care for the children in her school. she went into that school when there was already a problem from the previous administration. she deserves time to straighten out the problems of the past and she will turn around that school

  • I was born and raised here in Williamsburg/Greenpoint. I attended school at St. Anthonys and then I went to a private school in Manhattan. Now as an adult looking back, I am so glad I did this. I had the best of both worlds. Not only did I have my neighborhood friends but I had friends all over the city. Now I am grown up. I moved away for many years and am now back to raise my child in the same neighborhood I grew up in. We tried the local school for a year but ended up sending her to school in Manhattan. So here I am, one of the “locals” who is rejecting district 14 for Manhattan.

  • PS 17 may be underenrolled but the last time I checked they only had one fifth grade with something like 38 students in the one class. How could any child thrive in that environment?

    Parents with young children tend to only look at Pre-K and K– (and check test scores)they need to look at all the grades when they check out schools.

  • True that. All the schools are pretty good at the Pre K level. They tend to get progressively worse as the grades go up.

  • The School District 14 (Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick) CEC meeting this Thursday should feature a 1-hour session with Martine Guerrier, “the City’s first ever Chief Family Engagement Officer.”

    This session should offer an opportunity to air some issues to a parent advocate whose responsibility includes many of the points raised on this thread; relationship between parents and school administration, evaluation of schools by parents and how those evaluations are factored into the school’s “report card,” How schools adapt to a new student body, etc.

    DoE likely has a different description, but as I understand it, the CEC is a parent-and-stakeholder advisory board with certain review responsibilities over DoE policy and practices in the District. It was mandated by the State as part of the transfer of control away from Community School Boards and to the Mayor’s Office. It is a problematic entity which can be discussed in its own thread.

    Please support the District 14 CEC. The members of the Council are not in control of any decisions and are grappling with their role without adequate training or guidelines. There is no incentive for the DoE to better empower the CECs, so they are left over-burdened, under-supported and confused. There is potential for good to happen through our CEC, but it needs the support of all who have a stake in this issue.

    COMMUNITY EDUCATION COUNCIL FOR DISTRICT 14

    Time: 7: 00 pm

    Thursday October 18, 2007

    215 Heyward Street Auditorium

    For more information, please call CEC14 office @ (718) 302-7624 or

    E-mail us at cec14@schools.nyc.gov

    Anyone wishing to speak during the Open Discussion period must sign the Speakers’ Sheet, prior to the start of the meeting. You will be allowed up 3 minutes

    Community Education Council District 14 –
    215 Heyward Street (Room 233 B)
    Brooklyn, New York 11206
    718.302.7624 Office
    718.302.7606 Fax
    CEC14@schools.nyc.gov

  • Regarding cheating to get your child in a school outside your district read this article I stumbled across when doing some research.

    http://www.phillymag.com/articles/bad_parents/page1

    To quote from it:

    “No less important, though, is that a generation of kids who’ve been overindulged, overprotected and generally over-parented seems to be overwhelmingly underprepared to live in the real world. “They’ve been exposed to so much more, and on one level, they’re so much more sophisticated than we were,” says Janet Walkow, a business consultant in Wayne and the mother of three college-age girls. “But they’re less sophisticated when it comes to street smarts. They’re not as mature.”

    Not that you can tell them. A study released earlier this year found that the current generation of college students is the most narcissistic ever. In the study, psychologists asked students to respond to statements like, “If I ruled the world, it would be a better place,” “I think I am a special person” and “I can live my life any way I want to.” Two-thirds of the kids showed elevated levels of ­narcissism — 30 percent more than when the study was first done in 1982.

    How did this happen? How is it that a group of moms and dads who love their kids so much, and who were so intent on being great at raising them, has turned out to be, arguably, the worst parents ever? The short answer might be expressed like this: We’ve been too uptight about things — achievement, success, appearances — we should have been relaxed about, and too relaxed about things — values, integrity — that we should have been more uptight about.”

  • I don’t see what your implication is. Can you be more direct and say what this has to do with the topic?

  • I read the whole article. Although I don’t see what it has to do with the topic, it is a great article. I like the part about the chores. Now I don’t feel like such a bad mom when I make my 5 year old feed our pets every night or yell at her if she pulls their tails.

  • The comment about Park Slope’s high school, above, apparently refers to John Jay High School, which has been phased out by the DOE. It was indeed avoided by the vast majority of local parents, for the simple reason that other high schools (Stuy, Bronx Science, Tech, Midwood, Murrow, etc.) were far better. High school kids are more mobile and will go to where the quality is. John Jay’s failure was more a reflection on the old Board of Education than on Park Slope. That said, John Jay was a lot better than the worst high schools in Brooklyn (remember Thomas Jefferson HS?), which is why some kids came from far and wide to attend John Jay.