More Drama from the P.S. 321 Rezoning


Despite the city reeling from Hurricane Sandy, the New York Times still managed to fit in a story about the turmoil surrounding the Park Slope school rezoning. There isn’t any particularly new news — the article focused on the newly controversial citywide policy that allows since-moved residents to remain at popular P.S. 321 while other parents in the neighborhood are zoned out. According to the Times, “Parents living in the zone say that the children who live elsewhere are taking up precious seats, and that families who come to the area without plans to stay long are taking advantage of the rules.” The article does make the point that many of the families who no longer live in the neighborhood had to move because they simple couldn’t afford it. And of course, the real estate issue comes up: a couple planning to sell their apartment, which is located in the new zone outside of P.S. 321, believes it may sell for $100,000 less than expected.
At an Overcrowded School in Park Slope, No One Wants to Leave [NY Times]
Here’s the Proposed Rezoning for Park Slope’s Schools [Brownstoner]
Photo by nyc school help

17 Comment

  • I can’t believe the Times quoted someone who “fears” the rezoning might cause his apartment to be worth 100K less without any basis for that. And he’s talking about selling his place to pay for college, not even about his kid being able to attend 321. Geez, so your investment plans didn’t work out? Too bad! That happens to everyone for all kinds of reasons. No one living in new construction in 321 should complain.

  • “Despite the city reeling from Hurricane Sandy, the New York Times still managed to fit in a story about the turmoil surrounding the Park Slope school rezoning….”
    The NY Times fits it in, and Brownstoner milks it.

  • cp

    i’m surprised no one mentioned that, perhaps, the city should fix all schools so that parents don’t have to go to extremes to get their child into a good school and not wind up in one of the majority of failing schools?

    • The problem is that schools are largely “good” because of the families sending children to the school. There is nothing “special” about 321 besides the demographics of the attendees.

      That’s why it’s much ado about nothing. These kids will go to neigboring schools, which will magically be “good” now. It’s a function of demographics moreso than any inherent school quality. If anything, teacher quality is probably “better” in the “bad” schools, because of how teacher placement operates.

  • i really don’t understand the complaint that relocating parents are “taking advantage of the rules.” first of all, the rule is *explicitly there* for the protection of the children and the instructional integrity of the home schools, and you better believe that 321, and all these snowflake children, benefit from the fact that the school does not have attrition to fill in the upper grades. Beyond that, at the most basic systemic level, every family that sends their kid to ps 321 or 107 or any other affluent school is taking advantage of the rules! Because the rules amount to assuring that only well-off (or highly motivated) families can join the school in the first place. I have little sympathy for people who want to take all the benefits of a fundamentally inequitable situation but then complain about people who are doing exactly the same thing.

  • Is it really so unfair for parents who buy a house or rent an apartment in a particular neighborhood to want their elementary school age children to be able to walk to a school in that neighborhood? Years ago, when I taught elementary school, if a child moved out of the neighborhood, he was allowed to complete the school year at the old school, but was transferred to his new, zoned school for the following year. Only if the original school was underutilized and there was room for him was he allowed to remain in that original school, but certainly not to the detriment of students who lived nearby.

    All zoned schools should be good and all should receive proper support from the city. In large measure, the quality of a school is determined by the students who attend there and the involvement of their parents. It’s been my experience that so-called good schools rarely have much better teachers than average. At times, when I was sent to visit model gifted and talented programs, which might presumably have the best teachers, I was singularly unimpressed by the lessons I observed.

    I saw some great teachers and some awful teachers in almost every school in which I worked over the years. I’m sure PS 231 is not really that different. Instead of trying to get their little darlings into the “best” school, parents should be involved in and try to make whatever school their child attends into the best school.

    • I can’t see how the proposed rezoning would prevent any zoned child from walking to the school they are zoned for. In most cases, the school will be even closer. From what area in the proposed zone could a child no longer walk to his or her school?

    • I can’t see how the proposed rezoning would prevent any zoned child from walking to the school they are zoned for. In most cases, the school will be even closer. From what area in the proposed zone could a child no longer walk to his or her school?

  • The arrogance of the population in Park Slope takes the limelight once again.

    To parents screaming it is “unfair” for students who have subsequently moved into other districts to remain at 321 and take up “precious seats” from people who have recently moved into the zone, there is only one thing to say – those are the rules; those have been the rules for quite some time; those rules cover the entire city. As long as parents are playing by the rules, what they are doing is not at all “unfair”. In fact, it is the definition of “playing fair”. What would be patently unfair is if the city changed its longstanding rules just to appease a group of upset parents in one of the wealthiest parts of the borough.

  • Havemeyer

    I feel like this article is calculated to throw kerosene on a simmering blaze, and I want to just walk away, matches unlit… but… I have to say, it reminds me of the Park Slope Co-op.

    In both cases, you have a highly successful community creation that, through overpopulation, is a victim of its success. And in both cases, instead of trying expand that success, share it, bring it to others… we get this: a bunch of people whining that their kids are going to have to go a new school down the street, with new facilities, new equipment, and a brand new affluent PTA who will probably raise $200K (at least) this year.

    This is, of course, why the Times covers it, and why we all snicker.

  • slopemope

    Now that we live in a mini “baby boom” era, perhaps it really is time to rethink the whole grandfathering of children to their school. if there is a real financial hardship, families forced to move because of hard times etc, lets make an exception based on that. I had to move elementary schools when i was young, its not fun. But its the only way to make a city at full capacity work.

    The population in nyc didn’t surpass the 1950 level until the 1990′s. I like much of what morralkan suggested, let them finish the year out.

    Also, let’s be honest. 321 is a good school, but there are many reasons why some parents prefer one school district over another. Beyond the safe neighborhood, involved parents who are educated, kids are very affected by the general culture of acceptable behavior. And this is not a racial comment by any means – much of white brooklyn is steeped in a culture or machismo or superiority by physical dominance and hyper stereotypical gender roles. And not as much emphasis on intellect, educational values and open mindedness. (i’m sure they believe they are flawless, however, much the same fallacy as we believe of ourselves). So yes, its class, but also culture.

    • “But its the only way to make a city at full capacity work.” This is just wrong. By and large, relocation policy just isn’t a problem – in fact, it minimizes the problems of mobility on schools. The only thing revising the policy would do is make a very small minority of Park Slope/Tribeca-type parents even more smugly satisfied. For the rest of the system, you’d have principals and teachers now overworked because they have to fit families into this “exception” in order to keep their schools functioning. And if the school administrations don’t have the time or gumption to research outright enrollment fraud, do you think they will really be researching “exception” fraud??

      Mobility might have been okay for you as a kid, but it generally speaking very harmful for schools with a large at-risk population. Let me say it again: This is a rule that is not designed for the benefit of rich people. It’s a rule that is designed for the benefit of at-risk students and their schools.

      I am completely and entirely in support of local schools, and agree with the comments about local schools needing to be nurtured and improved. I just don’t think that permanently encasing PS 321 zone in amber is the way to do it, particularly when the DOE has proposed to create not one but TWO new schools easily within walking distance of previously zoned families, and both promising to be composed of kids/parents/staff from the neighborhood and/or district where all of these kids live.

    • “But its the only way to make a city at full capacity work.” This is just wrong. By and large, relocation policy just isn’t a problem – in fact, it minimizes the problems of mobility on schools. The only thing revising the policy would do is make a very small minority of Park Slope/Tribeca-type parents even more smugly satisfied. For the rest of the system, you’d have principals and teachers now overworked because they have to fit families into this “exception” in order to keep their schools functioning. And if the school administrations don’t have the time or gumption to research outright enrollment fraud, do you think they will really be researching “exception” fraud??

      Mobility might have been okay for you as a kid, but it generally speaking very harmful for schools with a large at-risk population. Let me say it again: This is a rule that is not designed for the benefit of rich people. It’s a rule that is designed for the benefit of at-risk students and their schools.

      I am completely and entirely in support of local schools, and agree with the comments about local schools needing to be nurtured and improved. I just don’t think that permanently encasing PS 321 zone in amber is the way to do it, particularly when the DOE has proposed to create not one but TWO new schools easily within walking distance of previously zoned families, and both promising to be composed of kids/parents/staff from the neighborhood and/or district where all of these kids live.