When it comes to modern public education in New York City it is all about location, location, location. So the fact that parents in Park Slope and Washington Heights are a bit alarmed over plans to rezone or de-zone their neighborhoods isn't that surprising. "If somebody invests a million dollars and they want their kids to be in [P.S.] 107, and they’re not, I don’t know if 'devastating' would be a little too much, but it would be a big deal," one real estate agent explained to the Times.
The issue in Brooklyn is, in a nutshell, this: Park Slope's P.S. 321 and 107 are highly sought after and very crowded (and getting more crowded every year). To deal with that, tomorrow the District 15 Community Education Council will discuss a plan in which the two zones would shrink, pushing some kids into less desirable schools. More specifically:
Under the latest proposal, the zone for the high-performing P.S. 321 on Seventh Avenue and First Street would shrink, and DOE would open a new zoned school in the former Thomas Aquinas School building on Eighth Street and Fourth Avenue. That new school would take some students formerly zoned for P.S. 321 and some who had been in the zone for P.S. 39, on Sixth Avenue and Seventh Street.
An assistant principal from P.S. 321 could be installed as the principal at the new school, but that hasn't been finalized yet, Devor said. At P.S. 107 on Eighth Avenue and 14th Street, a "small chunk" of the school's zone would be shifted to P.S. 10 on Seventh Avenue and Prospect Avenue, Devor said.
And that naturally has parents who paid a lot of money to be in the right zone freaking out. As Gothamist Publisher, and P.S. 321 and 107 alumni, Jake Dobkin put it: "I'd sooner cut off my kids' feet than send them to any of the other 'so called schools' in Park Slope."
Meanwhile, in upper Manhattan, the Department of Education is mulling getting rid of zones all together to better distribute kids around the area. But after some parents—allegedly "a small group of affluent white parents who wanted to keep the racial composition of their schools from changing"—made a fuss over the idea that the makeup of their beloved P.S. 187 might change, that idea has been pushed back. It may still happen, but not for at least another year while the DOE talks to the community a bit more.
Of course what is funny for many who grew up in the city is just how serious all this has become in the past few decades. When Dobkin was a kid, as he told FIPS, he "went to P.S. 107 for a couple of years, because that's where the hippies were sending their kids in 1980. But I think we were really zoned for 321, and they caught on or something—or maybe it was because the kids at 107 were stealing cars and smoking crack in the schoolyard—but anyway, we transferred to P.S. 321 for second grade."
Similarly, when this blogger was growing up he went to P.S. 3 in the West Village along with six of his neighbors—despite all of them living mere blocks from an East Village public school. As far as the DOE was concerned we all just happened to live in addresses further west—despite having mailing addresses that clearly showed we didn't. Which is to say, whatever happens, parents will find a way.