Thursday, May 15

Middle School Muddle: As the wait continues, the need for more quality middle schools grows


From the minute we dropped our 5th graders off in a sun-dappled elementary school courtyard last September, the search – and the questions – officially began for parents. Would we be able to find a decent New York City public middle school for our 9- and 10-year-olds?

The tours got off to a slow and somewhat confusing start, but one thing became immediately clear as we began to rank our choices one to five: There are far more students who want to get into the most coveted middle schools than there are spots for them.

In recent weeks, a dire picture of the overcrowding lower Manhattan and other areas of the city face and the impact it will have on schools has emerged. The New York Times weighed in, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has announced a meeting next week to discuss the implications.

A report Stringer released last month found the city had approved enough new residential buildings to add up to 2,300 new students in K-8 – while increasing total school capacity by only 143 seats.

Overcrowding is a serious problem, and it's only getting worse as more families choose to stay in the city.

I wish I could tell parents not to worry or stress, and urge them to shun private institutions or moves to the suburbs. The problem is, plenty of us are already staying in the city and fighting for better public schools, just as innovative educators are working hard to make the schools we do have more appealing by attracting grants and specialty programs.

It’s not enough. Supply does not meet demand. The overcrowding in some areas is causing parents to be shut out of kindergarten in some of the most coveted neighborhood schools, as the Times story noted.

Fast-growing immigrant areas in the Bronx, Queens and Upper Manhattan have spent years struggling with overcrowded schools, classrooms and trailers as immigrant populations continue to surge.

Finding a good middle school – and then getting into it – is hard enough now: the best have a long list of children shut out for lack of space.

Without serious attention it may become nearly impossible in years to come.

Read all of Liz Willen's Middle School Muddle

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

When will we hear????????? Memorial Day weekend is a week from now!

Adrienne said...

According to a reliable contact at the Department of Education (Office of Intergovernmental Affairs), middle school notifications should come the end of May.

Anonymous said...

I am always a bit confused and baffled at the DOE here - why are WE required to be one time and they're not? And where is the communication? Could we have gotten a note saying they will not mail on 5/15 as originally planned so that our children can stop being on pins and needles? What a horrendous pressure they're feeling and how terribly inconsiderate of them, the DOE, to string this out.

Anonymous said...

I really hope that's true - poster on middle school forum said LL sent a note home saying notifcations would be in June, and I spoke to a Park Slope mom who said she was hearing August.

Anonymous said...

Some parents report receiving notification from citywide schools. As of Friday, DOE Middle School placement office says their letters are going out "at the end of the month".

Anonymous said...

I heard from the citywide schools yesterday. I had also emailed the MS Enrollment Office at the DOE and they responded on Friday. They said that their letters (for district schools) will go out by the end of the month.

Anonymous said...

Had the DOE left the old system in place - ie The District would determine admissions to middle school and there would be a discrete entity that parents could appeal to. We were successful in lobbying the DOE increase G&T to top 10% and perhpas parents need to organize around the dismal state of middle schools.

dr. Monty Weinstein said...

we were successfulwith others in getting the DOE to lower the G&T bar to 90%. Parents need to now unite to get better middle schools and get OSEPO out of the business of determining who gets placed in District middle schools. The system worked quite well when the Districts made the decisions and there was more access to the decisionmakers.

Anonymous said...

We have not received notification from NEST one way or the other, yet this is a citywide school. Should I assume this means no? Has anyone heard from NEST re 6th grade applicants?

Anonymous said...

What about Twain? Has anyone heard from Twain? I haven't heard from NEST or Twain, which are the two citywide schools we applied to.

Anonymous said...

We heard from Anderson & that's it...I believe either way you should hear from NEST although we didn't apply there...This is what I would call "breach of contract" in my business...

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else heard from Nest? Are they sending out letters either way?

dr. Monty Weinstein said...

We are still waiting to hear about District 21 and District 22 G&T middle schools. Has anyone heard? When we contacted DOE they said that you can't appeal decisions which I think is incorrect and knowing the DOE, their grading of tests and methodology is always suspect. Has anyone been through the appeal process re middle schools and has anyone heard yet from Twain, Bay Academy etc. Is there a group of parents citywide that coalesces about middle school fiasco? We were active in G&T outcry at elementary level. Thanks

Anonymous said...

NEST notifications are out. If you're in or out you now know.