The Real Estate-Schools Connection

Over the weekend, the Times examined the relationship between real estate and school zone. Securing a place at a good public school has become more difficult recently, according to the paper; overcrowding and rezoning mean parents can’t count on admittance to certain schools based on where they live. (The recent rezoning of Park Slope’s P.S. 321, above, was cited as a prime example.) The paper offers several methods of coping: Rent until a child is admitted, then move; find an as-yet-undiscovered but good school; move into a developing neighborhood and either send the kids to a school several neighborhoods over or wait or help the local schools to change; move into cheaper housing and send the kids to private. The story related the experience of an editor and music booker who moved from a rental in Prospect Heights to buy an apartment in Crown Heights and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of a new school in their zone. Have any of these methods worked for you?
The Get-Into-School Card [NY Times]
Photo by DNAinfo

21 Comment

  • “Rent until a child is admitted, then move.” That’s ridiculous. You move out of the district, you’re kids are not allowed in that district.

  • I’m not sure if you’d call it a “method of coping” but our approach was to not freak out because we’re not zoned for PS 321, and to filter out people who have no idea what they’re talking about with regard to what is (and is not) a “good” public school. Once you get past the urban fear-mongering about schools with economic diversity, you realize there are plenty of really great public schools in Brooklyn. PS 9 (our zoned school) has been “discovered” of course, but isn’t as affluent as some of the Park Slope schools, and even 5 years ago many local families wouldn’t send their kids there. But we did our research and we saw tons of neighborhood buy-in and plenty of diversity, great, caring teachers, and a dynamic principal…all just around the corner. And it’s been really terrific for our kids and for our family – it’s not perfect, and sure, I would like the school to have a PTA budget like PS 321, but our kids are thriving and we really love that school is a part of our neighborhood lives.
    I’ll be interested to see what happens with some of the new schools (like the Crown Heights one) in gentrifying areas that the DOE created by closing out the upper grades (where the classes are mostly low-income minority kids) and starting the new school with new leadership and lower grades only. Crown Heights is still majority low-income, and those low-income families will still be sending their kids to the local schools at a higher proportion than “gentrifier” families, so it seems like the schools have only a few years to get buy-in from the gentrifiers before the negative perceptions could overwhelm the positive hype around new schools. Mind you, both kinds of perceptions could have very little relevance to the actual quality of the school but they do seem to have a lot to do with whether such a school would be viewed as viable by the types of families the NYT likes to profile.

    • Well said, and pretty much our exact experience with PS 11. Which, (probably like 9–maybe even more so), has a ton of out of zone kids who have either been priced out of their old neighborhood, or are coming from farther out in Bed Stuy. I think this is a story echoed all over the city these days.

      When I first started looking at schools I was very confused about how every other parent on the playground had suddenly become an expert in educational theory, and therefore seemed to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had to send their kids to 321 or 29 or 132 or hunter or the Rad School–else risk them falling by the wayside into a path of idiocy and doritos. I used to wonder if it was me or them. Now I’m pretty sure it’s not me.

      Compared to most places, including some of the burbs that New Yorkers flee to in search of these “good schools,” New York actually has a lot of fantastic options for school, and a lot of opportunities and programs in schools that you may not expect. Go on tours, talk to actual parents and kids at the schools involved, and do some research.

      • Well Hunter only admits Manhattan kids so there’s confirmation they didn’t know what they were talking about.

        • “Hunter only admits Manhattan kids”


          • Maybe they have an unspoken policy but everywhere I look including insideschools and their own website says, “Only Manhattan residents may apply to HCES.”

          • “PS3 in the West Village is 100% zoned kids, every year, without fail. Don’t bother applying if you are not zoned.” That is standard verbiage. Everyone you ask will say “Don’t waste your time applying there. Even if you’re District 2 in Manhattan, you’ll never get in.”

            Our daughter will be attending Charette elementary school in the fall.

            What’s the moral? Not sure, and not really sure how we pulled it off. But my advice would be very suspect of any dogmatic advice that makes it seem like exceptions never happen.

          • Okay, boerumhill, but what is their stance on quinoa at lunch? Do you feel like you have enough input about this?

          • I would say PS3 parents have as much input as any PTA around the 5 boroughs. The principal and several teachers attend the PTA meetings. They have a parents room in the school; you can hang out all day, should you wish to do so (some do).

            Not sure on the quinoa, but they do serve organics grown on the roof.

            It was our #1 choice because they have phenomenal emphasis on the performing arts. After school enrichment is off the hook. They also have two things in common with our preschool we’ve been in the last 4 years: 1) high parental involvement, and 2) they employ a lot of progressive Bank St School methods. Good fit for our daughter and our family.

          • Yes, but one can move out of Manhattan after being admitted.

          • We live in Brooklyn Heights (moved there from Boerum Hill). Again, I have no idea how we pulled this off. To be honest, neither does the PS3 administration. Understanding DoE decisions is like reading tea leaves.

          • I’m not mocking you by pointing this out (I was mocking the Avenues article about the quinoa, but I guess you didn’t read it), but you’re illustrating the sort of thing that people do. Much as no one at my school wanted to send their kids to PS 3 in Bed Stuy, you didn’t want to send yours to PS 8 in Brooklyn Heights (I assume) for reasons that might be clear and might not be. It’s kind of funny, the shifting that goes between demographics like this.

            Kind of funny. I mean, we have a fantastic after school program too. And… I believe there is some sitting on carpets and writing poetry. We too allow parents to hang out all day in the parent’s room. And the principal and several teachers attend PTA meetings–in part because their children are also students. More than I attend them, in fact, but that’s another story.

            I’m not sharing this because I think 11 would be a good fit for your family–it probably would not be. But what I am trying to say is, there are many very, very good schools the city and some of them might even be right down the street.

            (And for that matter, PS 3 doesn’t look that bad to me. The one in Brooklyn, I mean.)

          • We applied to, and were offered, a seat @ PS8 in Brooklyn Heights. We preferred PS3 in the West Village. I outlined some ancillary items, and they are all genuine contributory factors. To be honest, the biggest, most important reason is really silly: I like the Modern Dance and Jazz Ballet program there.

  • Nobody tops the Times when it comes to water is wet reporting.

  • Hunter High School admits kids from anywhere in NYC. The elementary school is Manhattan only.

  • Why don’t any public schools have ice hockey teams? If they can have football, they can have hockey. This bothers me and will be a major reason I will need to send my son to private high school.