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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Kindergarten wait list crisis: pictures are louder than words

Is this really pocket overcrowding, as the DOE still maintains?  With waiting lists at more than one fourth of the city's elementary schools?  Check out the maps below.

Just as the administration cuts the capital plan back by almost 50%.....see for yourself the evidence of the growing overcrowding crisis in our schools.  Though the DOE will say not all these children will be forced to attend schools outside their zone, many of them will; others will be consigned to class sizes of 25 or more; and other families will have moved out of the city because of the lack of space in their neighborhood schools. 

If you put your cursor over the school, its name will appear; if you click on it, you will see the number of children who were on the wait list as of that date.  You can also zoom in and out.

2009 Kindergarten Waitlist (as of July): 28 schools, 474 children

2010 Kindergarten waitlist (as of March): 99 schools, 2217 children

2011 Kindergarten waitlist (as of March): 155 schools, 3193 children


Anonymous said...

The claim that there are 54 children on the PS 165 (M) wait list is very odd. I know that because I applied there for my child, who does NOT live in the zone, and was nonetheless offered a seat. That could not have happened unless every zoned student (as well as every unzoned sibling) who applied had already been offered a seat. Even without that firsthand knowledge, it's simply not plausible that PS 165 has more waitlisted children than PS 87, PS 9, or PS 166. That number just doesn't make any sense.

Putting aside the reliability of the numbers (and none of the other UWS numbers is ridiculous on its face), the number of waitlisted children in March doesn't mean much, since at that point neither G&T test scores (let alone offers) nor lottery results (for schools of choice such as charter schools and MSC) were available yet. Only after families have had the chance to accept those seat offers will the number of waitlisted children really have much meaning, other than causing a lot of parental stress in the meantime. I don't know about other neighborhoods, but on the Upper West Side a LOT of kids will attend either a city or district GT program, or a school of choice.

This map also doesn't show the schools, like PS 145, that are half empty. I toured that school, and was amazed at the empty classrooms. (60% of capacity, according to DOE figures.) Federal magnet grant notwithstanding, I am not going to hold my breath waiting for the well-heeled denizens of the UWS to fill all those empty classrooms at a school that is 90% Black and Hispanic, 90% poor, and where fewer than half of students are passing state tests in math and English.

If what you really want are small class sizes, PS 191 had a grade K-6 average of just 21 last year, and no waiting list. But for some reason, the parents zoned for nearby PS 199 (average class size 26) don't seem to be quite beating down the doors to get their kids into the smaller class at 191. Why could that be?

Anonymous said...

I guess a question I have is why some schools are designated as choice schools while others are zoned. In my neighborhood, Hell's Kitchen, Midtown West is a choice school. I'm not sure why. You must complete an application to attend. I'm not sure why. It's not like the kids need to sing, or dance, or play an instrument. I'm not sure what the criteria for acceptance into the school is. It's not posted anywhere. You complete the application and maybe you get in and maybe you don't.

Anonymous said...

Quick response on the PS 191 issue… I agree that parents should expand their school horizons to include lesser known neighborhood schools. But I am also sure that one of the reasons why many parents are not clamoring to send their kids to 191 has a lot to do with the DOE Progress Report Grades. PS 191 received an overall C grade for 2009-10. In particular it was given an F in the category of Student Performance and a C in Student Progress. In ELA only 42.9% of last year’s 4th grade students achieved a proficient grade = Level 3. No student achieved a Level 4 in ELA. In Math 38.1% of students scored L3 and 19% L4. In comparison, the 4th grade class at 199 scored 69.8% L3 and 13.5% L4 in ELA and 39.2% L3 and 53.6% L4 in Math. How can 191 be brought up to the level of 199? We all know that we need better performing schools in our immediate vicinity.

Anonymous said...

Original commenter here. Re: PS 191: my point exactly! The main problem here is not an overcrowding problem. It is a school quality problem (which is in part a segregation problem). When there is a shortage of good public schools, OF COURSE there will be an overcrowding problem in those schools, even as nearby schools remain far below capacity, and middle class parents (understandably) choose to leave the city rather than send their children there.

The 191/199 situation is a natural experiment demonstrating a widespread preference for larger classes at high-performing schools over smaller classes at low-performing schools. Of course small classes are better, all else being equal. But all else is never equal.