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November 18, 2008
District 3 missed chance to talk about equity, comm. group says
The group that proposed eliminating zone lines to combat segregation in District 3 elementary schools isn't happy with a parent council's resolution about rezoning the district. The Community Education Council for District 3 decided last week to take a simple approach to rezoning, recommending that two schools move to new buildings and that zone lines around two others be tweaked. Some in the community had opposed the plan on the grounds that the changes would make school buildings more segregated. But the CEC said it wasn't permitted to consider diversity in the rezoning discussion. In a public letter, the Center for Immigrant Families, which has long pushed for more integrated schools in the district, says it is "beyond comprehension" that the CEC's resolution lacks "even a mention of what is equitable or fair."
November 14, 2008
Backing her kid’s school, actress Cynthia Nixon joins UWS war
Cynthia Nixon — actress, Alliance for Quality Education spokeswoman, and parent at the school — was shouted down during a heated public comment session.
November 12, 2008
Pushed to relocate, Center School parents put up a fight
This flier, which disparages Center School Principal Elaine Schwartz, appeared on the building's fence and around the neighborhood. A tiny middle school on the Upper West Side that has flown under the radar for much of its 26-year history has become the object of intense scrutiny in recent weeks as its principal and parents threaten to derail the neighborhood's plans to alleviate overcrowding. A plan proposed last week by the Community Education Council for District 3 would require the school to move from its longtime home to a larger space several blocks away. That plan, and the Department of Education's response to it, will be the topic of a CEC 3 meeting tonight. But Center School Principal Elaine Schwartz has opposed relocating since the DOE originally suggested the idea in September, and the school's loyal parents have lined up behind her. "We are totally unified," parent Alan Madison told me. "When it comes to the education of our children, we listen to [Schwartz]." Schwartz, the 26-year-old school's founding principal, told the New York Times last week that she opposed a move under any circumstances. As Schwartz and her school have dug their feet in, tension has wracked the PS 199 building on West 70 Street, where the Center School is the sole occupant of the top floor.
November 6, 2008
In District 3, advocates say zone lines should disappear
CIF's 2003 report about segregation in District 3 Rather than tinkering with zone lines, District 3 should do away with school zones altogether and instead institute a near-random lottery for school placement, advocates for the district's immigrant families say. The Center for Immigrant Families says students should be assigned to schools not because of where they live but by a lottery that takes into socioeconomic status into account. This type of admissions system, called a "controlled choice" program, would be radical for New York City. Cambridge, Mass., has had a controlled choice policy in place for more than two decades. Some parents in Cambridge say the policy is too formulaic and are advocating for a return to neighborhood schools, the Harvard Crimson recently reported. In a letter sent yesterday to the Community Education Council for District 3, CIF argues that the district's residential segregation requires attention: "The catchment seats increasingly reflect the gentrifying reality of our neighborhoods and further cement segregation."
November 6, 2008
In District 3, parent council recommends only minor rezoning
The New York Times reported yesterday that anxiety over an impending rezoning of the Upper West Side had families frantic about whether their assigned neighborhood school could change overnight. Last night, the parent group that ultimately gets to approve any change took a step toward eliminating the worries, recommending a scaled-down rezoning that would affect only a small number of families. Since the Department of Education first proposed rezoning the area in late September, some Upper West Side families feared being shut out of their neighborhood school, and at least one school, the Center School, railed against a plan that would require a handful of schools to relocate. In a meeting last night that was closed to public comment, the Community Education Council for District 3 recommended that the Center School vacate the building it shares with PS 199, in which classes must be held in hallways, and move seven blocks south to PS 9. Space would be made available there by relocating the citywide gifted school, Anderson, to a middle school building on West 77 Street. Center School administrators and parents oppose such a move, saying that the school has thrived in its current location, despite its tight quarters.
November 5, 2008
What to look for in the city's new school construction plan
Sandwiched between exciting election news and distressing budget news, the mayor and chancellor today will release their proposal for the city schools’ next…
October 13, 2008
CEC 3 to DOE: On rezoning, try, try again
Two weeks after the DOE first presented the Community Education Council for District 3 with two proposals for rezoning the Upper West Side, CEC 3 has concluded that both are too flawed to vote on. Maps of the DOE's two rezoning proposals In its official response, which CEC 3 released Friday along with responses from individual schools, CEC 3 asks for a new plan based on official school capacity data, a revised conception of school zones, and an expectation of class size reduction. The densely packed response also asks the DOE to consider leasing as a short-term solution to the district's space needs and emphasizes the unique identities of the district's special programs, the advantages of grandfathering in any new zones so that siblings are kept together, and the need for a new school building. An important question, the CEC argues, is whether the time is even right for rezoning, given the DOE's own self-proclaimed constraints in planning for future space needs. From the response: You have said that DOE does not plan for children until they register for seats. If the DOE is unable to anticipate how many children will be yielded by new construction, then perhaps this period of massive new construction in our district is NOT the best time to be redrawing zone lines. The council will address the issue further at its public meeting Wednesday. CEC 3's entire response is worth a read — it's a useful summary of many of the issues districts and neighborhoods face when trying to negotiate an overcrowding plan with the DOE. The response is posted in full after the jump.
September 26, 2008
District 3 rezoning update: Anderson officials are open to relocation
On Wednesday, the Community Education Council for District 3 held a special meeting to hear comments from community members about the rezoning proposal…
September 22, 2008
Relocation, new zones loom for popular Upper West Side schools
Proposed new zones for the Upper West Side, with (left) and without school relocations District 3 parent leaders so worried that the DOE’s Upper West Side rezoning plan would anger parents that they prefaced the plan’s first public airing last week with a stern call for civility. The atmosphere remained civil, but the packed auditorium at the Joan of Arc complex on 93rd Street was filled with strong reactions from applause to boos as department officials visiting the Community Education Council for District 3 laid out a proposal that could rezone as many as 30 percent of families living between 59th and Morningside Park — or augur an end to the district’s broad array of “choice” programs, including gifted and talented and dual language programs. Inspired by parents and elected officials in neighboring District 2, CEC 3 this spring launched a committee to lobby for new schools to relieve the district’s pervasive overcrowding and accommodate families moving into the area's many residential buildings under construction. But DOE officials said last week that a “more comprehensive, more immediate set of solutions” — in the form of rezoning to take effect in the fall of 2009 — could bring the district’s schools well below capacity without a new school.
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