Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More school daze

A while back I recounted the orientation session my wife and I went to for The Boy's public school. At the time, we were looking at the Pre-K program, but it turned out that they only had four open slots. Needless to say, our son's lottery number didn't come up, and he went back to his montessori for a second year.

Next year, though, The Boy heads off to Kindergarten, and we've got him signed up for that school, PS 89, just a few blocks away. "PS" stands for "public school," and the whole idea of a public school is, of course, that your children get to go (for free) simply by living in the appropriate district. PS 89 happens to be one of the best elementary schools in the city, certainly one of the best public ones. So we're lucky.

Or not. The New York Times recently had a front page article on the "pupil jam" at "New York's coveted public schools," PS 89 included. The piece includes scary graphs like this one:

Nice. To sum up the worry, the Times's Elissa Gootman reports:
At P.S. 89, there are 91 kindergartners this year, and 147 signed up to attend next year, 12 of whom have been placed on hold. The principal, Ronnie Najjar, has taken to scouring the school’s blueprint for places to squeeze in more classrooms, and quizzing local officials on the size and timetable for new condos on the horizon.

“They wanted people to come downtown after 9/11, revitalize downtown,” she said. “Well, guess what? They came.”
And more are coming. The baseball fields across the street from the school have been rearranged and abbreviated to make the area safer as two new high-rise complexes go up. The schools, obviously, are only going to get tighter. As it is now, according to the article, many families who moved into the area may have to take their kids to distant districts each morning. At least we won't have to do that.

Cold comfort, though. Will The Boy get lost in the teeming, gleaming halls, the repurposed music room? Which part of the blueprint will he be wedged into? Will his teachers take time to measure the degree of his perfectionism and consider ways to help him work through and past it? How could they in a class of 30+? More likely, he won't be any kind of squeaky wheel requiring grease and will be easily ignorable, quietly and thoroughly red.

As I said in the past post, my wife and I will be active parents dedicated to making our children's schools better (if we could). But I discovered at that meeting that I was always already assuming that the school existed—that we wouldn't have to start from the beginning.

But if that's what it takes.

(Photo by NYCmiri, used under a Creative Commons license.)

1 comment:

teahouse said...

Very interesting post. I'm glad that you and your wife have been able to send your kids to school in NYC.

When we got married, our priest said that this year's confirmation class had only 4 teenagers in it. On the Upper West Side, it's getting so expensive to live that the only parishioners are young childless people like us, and old retired people. It's getting so expensive to raise kids in this City.