The NYC Public School Shuffle8

Posted by Deirdre // 05-05-2013



A happy family living in Crown Heights, loving their local PS 705

If you’re out enjoying this gorgeous day (and not inside posting on your blog or cleaning up your apartment for an open house because the owner is selling, for example) then you may have missed the article in today’s NYT Real Estate section about moving (or cheating) to get your kids into a good school. 114 comments on the article, and counting. Always good nuggets in these pieces, even though some of it (like the family at left, a bit) can occasionally make one seethe with jealousy.

What did you do – or will you do – to get your kids into your school of choice?




6 Responses

  1. Deirdre says:
    May 5th, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    I do know that there’s still “cheating” – though it was kind of a harsh word to use, admittedly. I understand that people do whatever it takes to have their kids go to a school they believe in and feel comfortable with. I think the envy comes from the fact that they took a chance on a neighborhood, probably payed a lot less and actually ended up happy! I guess envy is a tough word to use, too — I certainly didn’t mean to judge those people at all — I admire them for having invested in the neighborhood and sticking with the school, and I think it’s AWESOME that they’re happy. We never had the guts to do that, like the people who did it before us and have helped make the school my kids are in as good as it is today.

    But the renting the studio – or I just heard about a family that rented a 3 bdrm in the 321 zone that they don’t live in – is akin to buying your way into Public School. I know that wasn’t the focus of the article, though and I do like the way the Times – and you, Joyce! – talked about the different ways families are doing it, with both the perils and the positives that can result.

    • Joyce Szuflita says:
      May 6th, 2013 at 9:00 am

      Of course there are people who will cheat, and their children will be part of the conspiracy. You reap what you sow. Good luck to them at middle school.

      This real estate dance is a reality. It has emerged for the best reasons; that poor and struggling families are priced out of neighborhoods that they have supported for generations. They are able to stay in the schools that they have grown up with, even though they may be forced to move to cheaper zones because of gentrification, illness, divorce, etc. The fact that wealthy families are taking advantage is just par for the course.
      But most families won’t cheat (or actually move, which is not cheating) and they will roll up their sleeves and they have been.

      This very eloquently from

      “And so, in a matter of 20 years or so, a couple dozen schools in
      District 15 have now become “acceptable” alternatives to private for
      many middle-upper income parents, where not so long ago they would have shunned the same schools. So much of it is word-of-mouth and a bit of lemming follow lemming. But for a district that not so long ago was ALL about PS321 for picky parents, that’s a HUGE change in perception.”

      Truer words have not been spoken.

      • Joyce Szuflita says:
        May 6th, 2013 at 10:58 am

        …and one last thing, just because I am long winded.

        It is cathartic to shake your fist at the moon over cheaters, but if cheating was so easy or prevalent, then NONE of these schools would be strong and coveted options (that people are NOW supposed to be cheating to get into) and 321 would still be the only school that anyone would look at; not PS 8 or 39 or 107 or 154 or 10 or 29 or 58. You may not remember when no new families to the neighborhood would go there, but it was just a few short years ago. Sometimes the schools had strong leaders and just needed families to recognize them, many of them had a significant leadership change and implemented the progressive programs that families wanted. Still, it took time and vision and sometimes a little guts and now those schools are a testament to the educators and new and old families that backed them.
        Thanks for letting me vent 😉

        • Deirdre says:
          May 6th, 2013 at 12:23 pm

          Well, if there’s anyone who knows the public school deal in Brooklyn it’s you! So happy to have your thoughts on all of it. I think it’s totally exciting that there are more and more options, and I do seriously applaud (and am grateful for) the pioneers. And for you, because you recognize greatness – or the potential for it – before others do, and help people over the hump to see that potential too.

  2. Tracy says:
    May 5th, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    There is most DEFINITELY still “cheating” taking place in Park Slope. I know for a fact that the family that rented our old apt did so to get their son into 107, which was half a block away. According to our old neighbors- they don’t even seem to actually live there. I’ve met many, many people who rented studios to be in zone.

    (Kudos to them for paying Brooklyn rent for an empty space. It’s insane.)

  3. Joyce Szuflita says:
    May 5th, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Who’s talking about cheating? It is much less prevalent than in years past in my experience. The city’s system allows families to apply out side of zone, and if there is room in the school that you have applied to, you can get in. It is not a guarantee of entry to a specific school but if you are patient and have an iron stomach, you may find a coveted seat in a school out side of zone or district. The system is a nutty free-for-all that it has evolved into this giant game of musical chairs over time.

    The straight forward (although not at all fool proof) method of gaining entry to your favorite school is to find a home in the zone. That is easier said than done these days with shrinking inventory and over capacity kindergartens.

    The family pictured is taking a chance on a brand new program (they just happen to already live in the zone of that program). They are trusting their gut and rolling up their sleeves to make it something that the neighborhood can be proud of. They have a lot courage to trust a new new program with vision. There are no test scores or big budgets to cling to, and no guarantees. All of the city schools that families look at with envy now, are the work of strong educators and families who wouldn’t give up on them, 5, 10 or 30 years ago. If this was easy…