Ali bought into 200 Chambers St., which houses an annex for P.S. 234, so her daughter could go to school there, saving the family money on private school. She and her daughter walk past the school every day, and her daughter “constantly tells me, ‘This is the big school. This is where I go next year,’” Ali said.
Being placed in a different school, Ali added, “was never anything I thought would happen.”
But it did happen, to Ali and perhaps 50 to 100 other parents who put P.S. 234 or P.S. 89 as their first choice but were placed in either P.S. 276 or the Spruce Street School, which also opens this fall in Tweed Courthouse. The D.O.E. would not disclose the number of children who did not get their first choice, but several parents provided Downtown Express with estimates based on initial numbers released by the department.
Every time my two-year old daughter and I walk past the lovely new public elementary/middle school two blocks from my house and the kids playing in its new playground, and I have to bite my tongue from saying either "This is where you'll go to school," or bitterly, "This is where you'll go to school if we win the lottery," my enthusiasm for "school choice" dies a little. It isn't that I'm afraid that she won't find a seat in an adequate public school, but knowing there is a good alternative a five minute walk away will gnaw on me every time I have to get in the car to drive to school or walk to the bus stop, if we don't win the lottery.
Having some chance of getting into a good public school is better than having no good public schools, but that's not saying much. People don't like randomness, uncertainty and complexity, and it seems that NYC's choice system is bumping up against a tipping point in those areas.