Hudson Heights Weather

Monday, October 15, 2012

Preserve the P.S. 187 School


This blogger doesn't have children (yet) and doesn't own an apartment in Hudson Heights (yet).  So, theoretically, I have little to lose from the City's misguided idea to eliminate the school zone for P.S. 187.  But I'm completely opposed.  And if the City ever approves the plan, I would think twice about doing either in Hudson Heights (kids, buying).  That's because the zoned school helps make Hudson Heights the great neighborhood that it is.

The idea involves the creation of a fluid school district covering all of Upper Manhattan.  Parents would fill out an application for their children, rank their school choices and the Department of Education would assign seats in the various schools in Upper Manhattan.  This would give children from other neighborhoods access to Hudson Heights' school, P.S. 187.  And it would end guaranteed placement of Hudson Heights kids in their neighborhood school, which covers Kindergarten through Eighth Grade.   If the idea sounds terrible for kids, that's because it is.

P.S. 187 is a great school because it is a zoned school.   A strong PTA and committed core of educated, professional parents have helped transform the school environment in the past ten years.   Neighbors of all income levels and ethnicities gather in front of P.S. 187 before and after school to chat and exchange information.  No child must walk too far to get home.  Neighbors pick up their neighbors' children.  A better environment encourages more families to keep their kids in the public schools.  It helps attract and keep better teachers.  The result is not a "Caucasian" or "wealthy school"; the majority of students are of color and most qualify for free school lunches.  But everyone shares one thing in common--our neighborhood.  If you eliminate the zone you eliminate the fundamental reason for the school's success.   Parents from outside the zone are clamoring for a decent, safe school for their kids.  That is understandable.  But the route they (and the City) are choosing to meet that need will destroy the end goal.

There is a larger policy issue at play here.  Middle class families are an endangered species in New York City.  Even through the boom years of 1995 to 2007, when young professionals flocked to Brooklyn and northern Manhattan, the 2010 census showed that the City continued to lose middle class FAMILIES.  The hemorrhaging began in the 1960s and it has never ceased.  Wealthy New Yorkers can buy their way out of the problems  of crime, bad schools and lack of decent housing.  The poor are, lamentably, stuck.  And young professionals don't worry so much about these issues--at least until they hit 30.  But for middle class families, staying in the City is a choice.  We can leave and move to the suburbs where we would exchange a longer commute for low crime, great schools and more affordable housing.   We stay because of our commitment to urban living.  But everyone has a limit.  When the City begins to understand that reality and infuses care for middle class families into policy making, the steady exodus of middle class families will slow.  They can start by preserving the school zone that keeps thousands of middle class New Yorkers in Hudson Heights.


  1. This opinion piece is right on target.

    My spouse and I are new residents to the Hudson Heights Community, specifically the P.S. 187 school zone. We moved to the area for one specific reason: with the intent settling down in the community, and one day sending our future kids to the school.

    We've read in recent days that the local Community Education Committee, particularly, Bryan Davis, is supporting a plan that would de-zone P.S. 187 from the local area, in the name of so called "school choice". We're not sure who elected/appointed the members of CEC 6, particularly, Bryan Davis, but I have to say, we're rather appalled and disheartened to hear that now or in the future, an un-elected body or anyone would choose to de-zone P.S. 187 from the community.

    If P.S. 187 is de-zoned from the community, it will be a terrible thing: 1) any last vestiges of the middle class will just pick up and leave; 2) home prices in the P.S. 187 zone will plummet; and 3) having to compete for a spot in a school like a cast member on survivor is just not good education, and will only further make things about a "test".

    I hope someone puts an end to this crazy talk.

  2. I too think dezoning the school is a bad idea, but -- parents will always figure out a way to get a good education for their kids in this city. I don't think it's true that everyone will pick up and leave if they can't send their kids to 187, because the neighborhood has other appeals. I've lived here for more than 20 years and raised my kid here, and we're not in PS 187's catchment. Ironically, if the entrance to our building were on its west side, as opposed to its south side, we would have been! We applied for a variance for kindergarten, but didn't get one. Our kid got into Amistad, and was on the wait list at Muscota, and ended up in a G&T on the upper west side (not a 100% positive experience, btw). She has friends in the neighborhood from nursery school, and friends from other parts of the city from her other schools. But it is a shame and a disgrace that the city would try to mess with a decent neighborhood school!

  3. So we attended the CEC meeting last night at P.S. 48 - WOW! that's all I can say. the majority of the CEC 6 board had a total disrespect for the audience, and the President as well as Bryan Davis were extremely flippant with the audience.

    The most egregious item of the night: 3 of the 9 CEC Board members were absent, PREVENTING a quorum from being attained and thereby, no official business could be conducted. I mean honestly, why didnt these 3 people show up? I heard one had a family emergency, but what happened to the other 2? They have one job, to show up monthly.

    Also, I'd like to give strong praise to Councilman Jackson, who showed up and supported the diverse crowd and said, "let our kids walk to school".

    Finally, the most laughable part of the night was someone making a presentation about why sugary drinks are bad and how to eat healthy, yet CEC 6 was serving fried chicken wings? I mean seriously? Why arent they teaching kids to eat healthy in school.

    Also, we finally realized the school rating system is so bogus: Example - If all P.S. 187 kids scored perfect scores on state exams in 2010, and scored the same scores in 2011, P.S. 187 would be deemed as NOT making PROGRESS and sliding towards failing - hence why the P.S. 187 grade is a "C" even though kids are performing well on their exams. What a screwed up grading system.