Friday, May 8, 2009

Public school challenges in New York

A few interesting points about school challenges in New York.

"The Department of Education would not say how many schools had waiting lists or how many children were on them, explaining that officials were still reviewing the information that principals in Manhattan were required to submit earlier this week (principals in other boroughs must do so by Friday). But parent advocates and public officials in pockets throughout the city said that they had heard more complaints this year from panicked parents told that there may not be seats for their 5-year-olds at their neighborhood schools.

The notion of a waiting list for students living within a school’s zone is not unprecedented; last fall, 34 schools outside Manhattan capped their enrollment, turning away neighborhood children. But this year, after a change in city policy to standardize kindergarten admissions and encourage registration earlier in the year, the waiting lists seem to have proliferated, making their way into Manhattan neighborhoods where parents often make expensive real estate decisions with a specific public school in mind. And parents fear that the lists reflect not just the new policy but also a surge in demand, fueled by an increase in young families and an economic downturn that makes private schools less appealing."

The schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, issued a statement attributing the citywide rise in children taking the tests — up 2,412 students to 14,822 — to two factors: the Department of Education’s “further intensified” efforts to publicize the admissions process, and its decision to start all elementary school gifted programs in kindergarten (previously, some had started in the first grade).

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