crowd cec3
Parents at the March 15 meeting at PS 87 on controlled choice and school rezoning.

By Jessica Brockington

The leader of the local school board’s zoning committee is hoping two recent meetings will spur parents to get involved in a plan to rezone Upper West Side elementary schools.

Kim Watkins, the head of the Community Education Council 3’s (school board) zoning committee will take what her committee has learned in the two well-attended public sessions back to the full council next week.

March 30 and April 11, the next two calendared meetings of CEC3 will be critical in determining how elementary schools will be zoned in 2017, she said.

“Next week, March 30, we’ll see what sort of guidance we get in terms of additional movement down the road,” she said, “we need to summarize the sessions and answer lingering questions.”  She expects there to be substantive discussions around this topic and urges parents to get involved.

watkinsWatkins (pictured at right) has been working to introduce a concept called “controlled-choice” to parents. It’s a zoning method that allows parents and PTAs to decide how to mix students so that a diverse student body can be created equally throughout the district.

They are reacting in part to DOE triggers that will require rezoning, and also to advocacy groups that are urging the CEC to address inequity in UWS elementary schools. A rezoning plan for the southern end of the district failed last year after a backlash by parents.

But several groups argue that the rezoning shouldn’t just be focused on the southern end of the district. The PTA at PS 75 on 95th street, for instance, sent a letter to CEC3 (linked below) arguing that “we need a district-wide resolution to segregation. For the past year, the CEC has focused its attention on the southern end of the district, addressing issues of segregation and inequality among a few schools. But seeking a solution limited to one neighborhood reinforces the concentration of high-income families in just a few schools, instead of undoing it. We need a solution that unites all the schools and families in District 3 in equal, well-integrated schools.”

At the second information session, held last week, Watkins told the crowd, “For your information, CEC3 has the statutory right to approve zone line changes when they occur,” she said. “Overcrowding typically triggers a rezoning exercise. And in 2018 we’ll have a new school [PS 342]. That’s also a trigger for a rezoning exercise.”

Rather than let DOE redraw school zones arbitrarily, Watkins and parents and education advocates are hoping to inspire a community-wide grassroots collaboration.

Lisa Donlan has been a speaker at both of the information sessions. She’s a parent who’s studying controlled-choice on the Lower East Side. Right now, she pointed out, there is effectively a “no-choice” system, with DOE simply drawing lines around neighbors, and CEC3 approving or not.

For their part, the DOE isn’t talking. Three people identified themselves as being from DOE when a parent at the last meeting asked why no one from DOE was in attendance. They did not offer to participate in the discussion and had no comment for reporters.

Right now there are 30 children wait-listed for PS 199 in September 2016. That’s down from 100 wait-listed last year. PS 199 is one of the crown jewels in the NYC public elementary school system.  It is high-performing, well-funded, and mostly white. But as families have squeezed within the block lines drawn around it, and developers have cashed in on its performance, it has also become dangerously overcrowded.

PS 191, less than 10 blocks away, was on the City’s Dangerous Schools list. Some advocates say that designation was unwarranted, but for others it is a poor 2nd choice since children there are not performing on tests at the same level as PS 199. It also doesn’t take in nearly as much PTA funding at PS 199, given the income disparities between the zones.

Any rezoning that happens in 2017 won’t impact children already assigned to schools, or their siblings. There’s a clause in every zoning scenario that “grandfathers” those children.

The children it will impact are in preschool, or still a twinkle in their mother’s eyes.

Part of the effort right now is to reach those incoming parents. Watkins said they are making every attempt to communicate with preschools.

“We’re relying on the notion that parents are going to be involved enough to make a choice,” she said. “If you don’t know anything except what you see down the block, then that’s not really a choice. You have to engage yourself to see what else is out there in order to actively make a choice.”

We haven’t hit the soft spot of getting new parents involved, she said. “They don’t engage because they don’t have the time or energy to understand something like this. They rely on those who’ve gone through the process to pave the way.”

Mark your calendar for two important school zoning meetings:

Wednesday, March 30, 6:30 pm, PS 185/PS 208, 20 West 112th Street (between Lenox & Fifth Avenues)

Monday, April 11, 6:30 pm, PS 87, 160 West 78th Street (between Amsterdan & Columbus Avenues)

Check out some links to pdf documents below explaining controlled choice (the task force framing document in particular) and the rationale for a rezoning and/or a change in how students in the district apply to schools.

Task Force Framing Document

CEC Letter_PS75_Controlled Choice_Dec16_2015

PTA PS 145 CEC3_Desegregation and School Equity

PLP pamphlet

Top photo by Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal.

NEWS, SCHOOLS | 51 comments | permalink
    1. dannyboy says:

      I support desegregation and equity.

    2. 21D says:

      I must say, Jessica Brockington is a consistently good reporter. Even not having school-age children, I find this story clear, complete and provocative. The UWS has a real opportunity to effect positive change with regard to school inequity and segregation. I am most interested in how this situation will unfold.

    3. Brandon says:

      Anyone care to put forth a reason why the waiting list at PS 199 dropped so drastically this year without any rezoning?

    4. Sherman says:

      What amazes me about this whole school rezoning controversy is that you rarely hear the opinions of PS 191 parents.

      There is a ton of construction happening in the low 60s on the far west side. These are upscale buildings and will bring an influx of well to do families into the PS 191 zone. It is inevitable some families will send their kids to PS 191.

      I would imagine many current PS 191 parents are fearful of gentrification.

    5. Eddie says:

      PS 199 wait list dropped because parents with young kids have seen what a disaster the process is there and either moved out of the zone or decided to send their kids to private school.

      As I’ve noted before, this whole process is going to result in a race to the bottom. The good schools are going to become average, the bad schools are going to become slightly better, and the wealthy public school parents who drive the huge fund raising numbers that help make the good schools good are going to put their kids in private.

      If you are at one of the less good schools, rather than spending your whole life attending meetings and complaining, spend more time reading with your kids and otherwise stimulating their minds and also try finding creative ways to raise money to help the school. Lots of neighborhood businesses support the richer schools and I’m sure they would be happy to help the poorer ones as well.

    6. anon says:

      @Eddie, the parents of 4 year olds may have moved out of zone but private school wouldn’t play a part in the reduced wait list. Acceptances for privates don’t come out until after parents have to register for public K. Because you never know if you’ll get it to private everyone registers for public. The 30 child wait list at PS 199 will easily go to 0 due to some families choosing private and others choosing a G&T program when those offers go out.

      I do think the process is a mess. If it is true that families decided to move rather than deal with the uncertainties around PS 199 this is an indication what UMC parents all over D3 will do if controlled choice is implemented.

      To be clear, I think PS 199 and PS 191, and the new school in 2018 should be merged in some way. We should be realistic that some families won’t send their children. In a few years everything will be fine when people see that the integration of the schools hasn’t had a detrimental effect.

    7. J says:

      I think one of the major reasons is that a lot of parents who “sneak” into the zone (I.e., move in just for the deadline or rent an apartment to show mailing address), were scared off at the prospect of having a superzone or pairing and just moved into another zone. Several other schools on UWS had longer waitlists than past years.

      There is a pretty substantial (albeit still a small minority) of parents at 199 who really lived in the zone for a year if at all.

      I now several parents who this year moved into 9 or 87 district to avoid uncertainty of ps 199.

    8. Citizen says:

      Read the last couple pages of the attached “Task Force Framing Document.” It seems to list actual examples of pretty blatant discrimination of families in the district in the last several years. It’s sad and unconscionable.

    9. Sorrytosay says:

      Born and raised in the UWS and having attended both Public and Private educational facilities here in the UWS, I can attest that it does not matter where your kid(s) attend school. The most important education a kid will ever get is that, which he/she receives at home AND from their parents. If you don’t learn respect & self discipline at home, you’ll never learn that in school , , , no matter what school zone you attend.

    10. Melissa says:

      “What amazes me about this whole school rezoning controversy is that you rarely hear the opinions of PS 191 parents.”

      Why do you think PS 191 is so bad? Apathetic parents who don’t care about their kids’ educations.

      I’m sure forcing 199 kids to be in violent, underachieving classrooms will solve all of the racial issues.

    11. Anon says:

      @Sorry today, I disagree. I agree wholeheartedly that family matters a great deal. However, what school a child attends can have a huge impact. There was a recent report that 40% of kids recommended for special education services don’t get them. These services can make or breAk a child’s academic career. Some very bright kids have learning disabilities and with proper support can do well. If they are in a school that can’t give that support they will never live up to their potential. Parents lack the training and resources to teach them.

    12. Reading for Comprehension says:

      Reply 8, Citzen: the stories are terrible, no question. However, those are anecdotes of DOE employees discriminating against families, not of actual policies or zone lines. If those are the stories the Task Force is so concerned with, then perhaps a re-education of D3 administrative staff should be a high priority, not disrupting the plans families made to walk their children to K down the block.

    13. JG says:

      Thats exactly right – Moral Hazard.
      If you were looking to move into a zone to improve your kids public school experiences you definitely wouldn’t do 199 because you know the waitlist didn’t clear last year (K kids sent to 452)

      Ironically – those parents will be looking at the 30 person waitlist for 2016 and kicking themselves. So watch the waitlist bounce up in 2017…

      thats only if no new zoning or course. It loos like there will be some changes. I am pro controlled choice.

    14. Pro Controlled Choice says:

      I notice that Joe Fiordaliso is conspicuously silent on this issue. Can anyone explain why? I would love to know his opinion as I think he will be a major factor in any change.

    15. H says:

      Discrimination and segregation are alive and well on the UWS. Why doesn’t the DOE or whatever it is called nowadays just make a decision and be done with it. It seems that there have been endless proposals each with people in opposition. Doing the math it seems that no matter what decision is made some group is going to be upset. Just rip the bandaid off and do it already as there is not going to be a consensus where everyone wins.

    16. Anon says:

      @Citizan, agree that the stories on the last few pages of the framing document are awful but as a parent who has recently toured schools some of them don’t ring true.Maria took her gifted son Jose to visit a school. Children haven’t been allowed to visit Antioch the schools I’ve toured..Hilda’s neighborhood school told her that had no info on the waitlist. That’s true. It’s controlled by the DOE. Individual schools aren’t involved. No disrespect based on her face. One mother concluded that most English speaking kids in dual language programs were white. That may or may not be true. Doesn’t the DOE have stats? Carmen was put off by fliers saying how much the school needed as an average donation. This is exactly what the issue is. PS 199 raises a million dollars, PS 191 around 30 thousand. If the people who could never afford to contribute that are put off by being with other families who can how will integration work?

    17. anon says:

      I think it would be hard to find a parent on the UWS who doesn’t think something likely needs to be done about the school zoning issue. And, of course the schools are segregated. If you have segregated neighborhoods and you use geographically based on zoning, you are going to have segregated schools. What is unclear to me every time there is a discussion of rezoning is what the lead time will be on a change. I have a 3 year old and we bought our apartment days before she was born. While we knew we weren’t guaranteed a spot in our local school, we did our research on the waitlists and bought in a zone that we would likely have a pretty good chance to get her into the local school — at least by first grade. While we knew it wasn’t a guarantee, we invested every cent we had in our very small apartment. As we face the decision of whether to have another child, since while we might be able to find a way to afford private/parochial school for one child, we certainly can’t for two. Therefore, rezoning weighs on our decision. I’m just trying to be a responsible parent. It would be great if the DOE gave enough lead time on rezoning so parents who have made these sorts of plans and decisions would not be adversely impacted. Seems to me if your child is not yet born its hard to complain about a change, but anyone else has probably relied on the current zoning to some extent.

    18. dannyboy says:

      @anon: When you bought your apartment you acquired a home for you and your family. You did not buy a spot in the local Public School.

      The Public Schools are public and enrollments in specific schools are not sold.

    19. Brandon says:

      @anon, I sympathize. I really do. But read your post. You acknowledge that something must be done but then say you don’t want it to effect you or your child. We can all understand that everyone wants the best school for their child but the DOE should not be swayed by your situation. If they take into account that people like you will lose out in this situation they will never make any changes.

    20. Brooklyn 1968 says:

      This issue is not new. Brooklyn 1968:
      The DOE forced integration and bussed kids from poor performing schools into higher performing schools. Results: the incumbent families picked up and moved to Long Island and the formerly high performing schools became poor performers. Eddie is right, this won’t work.

    21. L says:


      I agree. It is not the duty of the DOE to protect the privilege of people who bought apartments to get into a particular school. So sell your apartment already. Guaranteed you made/have a bundle we renters don’t have.

      Look at the Mission Statement for the CEC3 below. It is their duty to ensure equal access to quality schooling. We all live within 3 square miles in D3. Geographically we would be one of the smallest towns in Westchester. Let’s not pretend we have to be separate and unequal. We are one community.

      Let’s not act as if only monied people have the right to choose. They choose with their checkbooks while others cannot. Let’s choose to build a system we can be proud of in 10 years, because we should not proud of this apartheid.

      Community Education Council 3 (CEC3) of New York City believes that every child is entitled to a high quality education, a safe and healthy school environment, and equal educational opportunities. The mission of CEC3 is to promote and support the educational needs of District 3 elementary and middle school students by representing and advocating for District 3 families.

      henever there is rezoning there are winners and losers

    22. Nice article says:

      The article is great. However, the PS 191 zone is wealthier and have higher property values than the PS 199 zone. Have you seen the buildings in the 191 zone, especially on WEA? The DOE has failed miserably with PS 191 because they don’t care about the student body at PS 191, and that has kept the majority of families on the 191 zone from sending their kids to that school. It’s a shame. Maybe the DOE fails with every school and the flaws are hidden by the fundraising activities of the families that attend the better performing schools.

      I wonder if controlled choice passes, is there such a thing as an out of zoned sibling anymore, or do all siblings now get first priority regardless of if a current student no longer lives in the zone. Does anyone know? Has this been discussed?

    23. Anon says:

      Siblings get to go to the same school. No in vs out of zone sins anymore.

    24. anon says:

      Does it concern anyone that the school districts around the US that are listed in the Task Force document as having used controlled choice are not known as offering particularly good schools? And in some cases continue to be very segregated? Shouldn’t part of the consideration set be whether this methodology has even been successful? Since the goal of the DOE is, presumably, to educate children isn’t it important that they show some evidence it actually improves educational outcomes? Or they at least provide some proposal for how they plan to test the educational impact of this approach?n It is not clear to me how they intend to document this.

    25. anon says:


      I don’t think the Westchester comparison is a fair one. First, from a student population perspective, I’m not sure you are correct. Second, in Westchester local property taxes would fund the schools. If you want to use property taxes from District 3 schools to just fund District 3 schools I’m sure all the the schools in District 3 would be improved and the issue of rezoning wouldn’t be as worrisome. But that’s not the proposal. The proposal is to keep the same amount of funding, don’t actually work to improve the schools and just reshuffle children out of the hope that by moving kids around you get some benefit. I guess the hope is if you take a few active parents from PS 199 and stick them at 191 they will transform the school. I suspect, instead, what you will see is those concerned parents will instead just leave the city. Parents who are willing to pour everything they have into their child’s school to make sure their child gets a top quality education are unlikely to accept the idea of turning their child into an experiment. Further, maybe the reason they are able to be active a their school is because its a local school — they don’t have to commute to it. For two parent working households, spending an extra 1/2 hour on the subway to get to and from your child’s school can have a significant impact on your involvement.

    26. reply says:


      I think the poster explicitly recognized that. They said they had no guarantee. They are only raising the question of how much notice their should be of rezoning? Is 1 year reasonable? Or would it be more equitable to have a longer lead time? For many responsible parents they’ve been planning for their child’s education since the day they were born.

    27. Keats says:

      I have watched this debate after several articles. I would be willing to bet that the majority of “liberal thinkers” who support changing the system for the sake of “equity” do not have children that will be affected by the 2017 or 2018 entrance rules. It is easy to be politically correct when it does not affect your child’s learning or safety.

      I too, believe in desegration and equity, and also know a few facts that are being left out.

      Schools with large numbers of low performing students get big Title 1 money. If 40% of the students are low performing, then they get school-wide funds. This pays for reading teachers, guidance counselors, etc. to help these children catch up with more individualized attention. When these children are spread out into a number of schools, the percentage drops and there is no school-wide help. Yes some PTA’s earn more money for their schools, but that is not what makes these schools good. It is motivated students, paired with interested and involved parents. There is great equity in providing more money for these schools through Title 1 because these children need and deserve a different level of instruction.

      I have repeatedly heard the argument that poverty level parents are too busy working to have time for their schools, to attend conferences or PTA educational programs. A larger proportion of the children in the higher performing schools have two parents but both are working so they can afford their housing. Many work exceptionally long hours to provide for their families. Still they find time to be involved. If parents of low achieving students aren’t showing up at their neighbhorhood schools to support the teachers and get their children to behave, why is it the responsibility of the higher performing studnets to be used as guinea pigs to fix the problem? Even one disruptive child can tear up a classroom and negatively impact the learning of every child in that room.

      District 3 is a poorly laid out zone. Due to natural boundaries it is exceptionally long as opposed to the Lower East Side. To compare the two is foolish. A district line is an arbitrary line that someone drew to divide up numbers of people.

      The UWS has been known for neighborhood schools. And when you buy an apartment you don’t buy a spot in a school, but you do buy a piece of the neighborhood by committing to be part of that community. Your children should be able to see their school mates at local playgrounds and other gathering places. They should be able to walk home with a friend. This is NOT Long Island or Westchester, where transportation to and from school is expected. If people with means are willing to stretch (and many UWS families are stretching) to live in the UWS, why are we doing our best to chase them out of public schools. There is not doubt that there will be flight if a disruptive plan is put in place.

      This article says the committee wants to hear from the preschool parents, so I would hope to have responses here from preschool parents who are actually affected by the impending planning, not those who can just make statements of what they think is right but have no children who will be affected. We have 2 that will be affected.

      All preschool parents should be contacting the committee chair to let her know your feeling. They are clearly waiting for our input.

    28. dannyboy says:

      @Keats: You can expect Comments from a wide-range of people will continue to be posted on the West Side Rag.

      Nice try though.

    29. JG says:

      I am a pre-school parent. I live in the PS199 Zone and I simply cant see the big deal about controlled choice. I’m pro controlled choice. People on here seem to be dancing semantically all over issues like whether they can see their buddies in the playground anymore or have to catch a bus! Give me a break. Integration is a positive and wonderful thing and I would be happy if my child ended up in 191. Get over yourselves people.

      Controlled choice is the best thing that could happen to our neighborhood. We all understand the real reason why people are against it. Race and Real Estate – and its time to take a hard look at yourselves and either step up and display those progressive values that the UWS is so famous four. Or move out of town. Its your call.

    30. anon says:


      Is your proposal to put your 5 year old on a bus on their own to see their friends who live 30 blocks away? I doubt many parents would share in your comfort in doing this.

      The report state they need to look further at how geography impacts where people send their children to school. Do they really need to study this? For two parents working households they value local schools, in large part, because it means they can be involved in their child’s school and do not need to hire someone to take their child to school everyday. Not all of us have the luxury of jobs that have flexible schedules that allow us to spend time hauling our child to a school in the opposite direction from our work. This is true for people on both ends of the economic spectrum. It is totally unclear how they intend to address this issue.

    31. anon says:

      @Keats –

      I absolutely agree with you. Local schools is part of the community you decided to buy in. I didn’t grow up with locally based schools but intentionally sought that out for my child because I experienced what it was like not to go to a local elementary school.

      it isn’t clear to me how one contacts the CEC to share our thoughts?

    32. Keats says:

      The good news is you already have that choice. You can list 191 on your application as your first choice and will be guaranteed a spot. They have tons of space and you don’t need to wait for controlled choice. The district is prepared to moved students from an overcrowded school to an underutilized school so your problem is solved. What’s interesting is that if you really want 191, you can have your first choice. Can everyone else get their first choice?

      I am not opposed to controlled choice, but I am opposed to the random moving of children to fix a problem that adults cannot fix. Does anyone have a good example of a district like ours that was fixed through controlled choice? What is the specific data? Did test scores for all kids go up? Was it sustainable? Does the program still last. Not what we think research is saying but what does the data actually show?

      By the way, I don’t think most people understand controlled choice. Parents list their choices, but do you know who “controls” which choice on a list of potentially over 10 district schools makes that choice for you. It is not the parent.

      I am not trying to control who responds here, I am just asking that preschool parents who are affected get a voice. Since they are not currently in public school, I can tell you that none of my friends with children in preschools have heard anything about all this. I just want preschool parents to let their wishes be known – whether for or against any form of rezoning or controlled choice. The committee needs to have input.

    33. Keats says:

      The committe chair is Kimberly Watkins. Her email is

      There are also recordings of the meetings the committee has held. They are lengthy but they can help keep you informed. The Rag does a great job but you can hear first hand on these recordings, if you have time to listen.

    34. Sue says:

      Has the School Board (or have parents) considered keeping the district lines but matching 2 disparate schools with ALL the K-2 students in one school and ALL the 3-5 (or 3-6) student in the other?

    35. Keats says:

      I believe the DOE is considering that kind of plan for 199, 191, and the new school opening in 2018.If that is the plan, it would make sense to wait until 2018 to the district is not making multiple changes and confusing people even further.

      Matching disparate schools gets tougher as you mover north. There are a significant number of schools in the north with low test scores.

      Again, the district is long and narrow.

      Ten of the district 3 school have English test reading scores with less than 50% of the students passing the Reading and English section of the test. And 9 of them are at the north end. How do we fix that without a lot of busing? There are three schools in that group that have less than 3% passing.

      And if we stop supporting those children with specially trained reading specialists, does it get better because they attend a school with other children, or is there something more than we can do to help them succeed?

      I for one am open to a fair solution for everyone. Just not sure how you can do it when the district was set up for this kind of distance.

    36. Reading for Comprehension says:

      K Admission Priorities (from the Manhattan K Directory, 2016)
      Standard Admissions Priorities for Zoned Schools
      1. Students residing in the zone, who have a sibling at the school in grades K-5 in September 2016;*
      2. Students residing in the zone, who do not have a sibling at the school.
      If space allows, students residing outside the zone may also be admitted, in the following priority order:
      3. Students residing in the district, who have a sibling at the school in grades K-5 in September 2016;*
      4. Students residing outside the district, who have a sibling at the school in grades K-5 in September 2016;*
      5. Students residing in the district, who currently attend the school’s pre-kindergarten program;**
      6. Students residing outside the district, who currently attend the school’s pre-kindergarten program;**
      7. Students who reside in the district, other than those in (3) and (5) above;
      8. Students who reside outside the district, other than those in (4) and (6) above.

    37. Eddie says:

      Though I am strongly in one camp on this, I appreciate the thoughtful comments on both sides. A few follow-up thoughts:

      My wife and I saved our whole lives to buy our apartment, and now live frugally to afford it, and most of our net worth is tied up in it. As a result, we knew private schools were not an option, so we thoroughly researched schools to make sure we would be in a zone with a good public elementary school. We almost definitely paid a premium to be in such a zone. To implement a plan like this would diminish the value of our home. I’m sure many would respond that they don’t care and this is the price we pay for the greater good, but despite my generally liberal tendencies, I am voting with my pocketbook on this one. Perhaps others who care so much about their child’s education should put forth a similar effort – even within the best school zones there are pockets of more affordable housing (PS9 has a small NYCHA building immediately next door), or they can enter the lottery for MSC, or prepare their children to excel on the gifted tests, or get involved at their children’s schools.

      Similarly, unless you have kids in schools, it is hard to appreciate the value of a neighborhood school. Living close to the school makes it possible for my wife and I (who both work) to occasionally do dropoff in the morning. More importantly, it means that our family, and our child in particularly, can see school friends around the neighborhood, particularly in playgrounds. It is these casual interactions that make NY the great city it is. I know several families that turned down G&T slots for some of these reasons.

    38. anon says:

      @Keats, do you really want to hear from all preschool parents or just the parents in the 199, 87, 452 and 9 zones? Don’t you think parents in the zones of poor performing schools want better options? How about the parents in the few blocks that were slated to move from 199 to 191 in last fall’s rezoning plan? They would certainly prefer controlled choice to being sent to 191 while their “community” a block away got to stay at 199.

    39. JG says:

      Regarding 191 – Yes – we are actively considering selecting 191 rather than 199. The overcrowding problems at 199 are so acute that many of my neighbors who have kids in the school are considering leaving.

      The teachers are of no worse quality in 191 and with fewer students my child will benefit from increased attention. I don’t have any concerns that this will negatively impact test scores.

      Regarding the bus issue – in my case the school is in the next door zone so no – my 5 year old isn’t going to be getting on a bus on his own to go and visit his friends (the most idiotic idea you’ve postulated so far) . neither will he just be wandering the neighborhood on his own either. I would be taking him to meet his friends whether or not I have him schooled in 199 or 191.

      Controlled choice gives priority to people in the zone, It can also give emphasis to people who want different schools and give them proximity. The idea that someone from south of the district is going to be expected to bus up 60 blocks is preposterous and unrealistic and wont make it into the final proposal (I expect) instead – it will mean that 191 zone parents have a chance to send their kids to 199, 199 to 87 etc. But if someone chooses to travel from the 60s up to Harlem for a particular school – why deny them?

      Its patently obvious that the controlled choice methodology isn’t going to distribute kids randomly through the zone. I understand if you feel that your real estate value will diminish, or that you are fearful of your child having to interact with more than a token number of brown skinned people but Controlled choice is the best solution for our area and the sooner you get on board and be constructive about helping the system work the better….

      Presumably you were one of the people who vociferously decried the modest re-zoning of the 199 zone last year? Look at what you got instead! You must be kicking yourselves you didn’t allow the DOE to shave a couple of blocks off – now – from your perspective- you’ve got a catastrophe! Time to deal with it!

    40. an says:


      People like going to neighborhood schools for lots of reasons. One of them is convenience. This is especially important for families where both (or the only) parent works full time. This is true regardless of economics. The difference between a school 4 blocks away and even 15 blocks away is meaningful. And, to the extent you have more than one child, it can impact your need for childcare arrangements, where you find childcare, what hours you can work at your job, etc. It has significant collateral effects. Its great that you believe under controlled choice you will be able to find another school for your child in close proximity. Not everyone is likely to be as lucky as you are. And, unlike you, we don’t all have a flexible enough work schedule to just “catch a bus” with our child. I suspect you may be one of the privileged few with this sort of flexibility — lots of school options close by and/or the time to bus your child around the city.

    41. comm says:

      If overcrowding is the issue people are trying to address, doesn’t that really require an assessment of projected population growth and the impact of the new school that is coming online? Isn’t overcrowding more of an issue in one corner of the district — not a generalized issue?

      If segregation is the issue people are trying to address, isn’t that a citywide issue? Shouldn’t there be a citywide response to that issue?

      If discrimination by school employees is the issue they are trying to address (which are what most of the report’s stories are about), isn’t that neither a zoning nor a segregation issue, but rather an HR/DOE issue?

    42. dannyboy says:


      I think you need a little introspection on that “my generally liberal tendencies” self-identification.

      Start with that precious principle about needing to keep the school segregation in order to juice the value of your apartment.

    43. JG says:


      I’m sorry about your “investment” But at least you’re honest about your objections unlike so many on here frantically trying to obfuscate their racism behind a willfully false misreading of what controlled choice entails.

      A version of this exists in the east village / LES. and yes – shock horror – people take their kids on the bus or subway to get to school. Just like they always have, just like people everywhere in the country do!

      The positives vastly outweigh the negatives. Cultural integration, wider exposure to the city and actual choice! Its going to be an incredible and positive development for our wonderful neighborhood!

    44. Eddie says:

      I’m sorry that we have differences of opinion. It is easy to advocate shaking up the system when you don’t have any skin in the game, either with a child in the system or when owning an apartment. I’m sorry to be snarky, but if you don’t care about what your home is worth and want a truly diverse experience, please feel free to sell your home, donate the money to an underperforming school, and move to NYCHA housing in the South Bronx so you can enable diversity there. My child is in a diverse class at one of the better schools in the neighborhood with about 1/3 of the students being black/Hispanic. I grew up in a very diverse suburb and appreciate the benefits of that experience, which is a large part of why we chose to live where we do. But I just don’t think this is the best way to address the problem. I wish I had a better solution but I do not. But until a better solution is found, I will be selfish and advocate for what I believe is best for my child – a high performing school with students from a variety of socioeconomic and racial backgrounds who live in close proximity to each other.

      And yes, dannyboy, I am planning to vote for Hillary, but at the same time, I have friends along the full political spectrum – I find it somewhat ironic that everyone is advocating for diversity yet heaven forbid someone shows up with what might be considered a more conservative view that is “diverse” compared to the norm on the UWS, they are shunned by people like you.

    45. JG says:


      Thats exactly the sort of “important sounding but essentially meaningless” fake obstacle that the anti-controlled choice people are relying on to torpedo the issue. 15 blocks? you mean .75 of a mile? No problem for those in the unzoned District 1 in the the east village or Lower east Side? Are those Public School parents especially privileged do you think?

      To paraphrase Jaws – You’re gonna need a bigger argument! 🙂

    46. anon says:

      @Eddie, I can’t speak to the make up of the school your child attends but we all know that most schools in the district are not diverse. You say you chose a diverse school for your child because you see the benefits. Why not give that option to more students by having controlled choice?

    47. Keats says:

      It would be wrong to assume I had any opinion about 199. If you read carefully, I have preschoolers and have had no connection with 199. I did not object to plans to balance 199 and 191, but as an UWS resident I think it is short-sighted to make that move until the last new school is opened because it will impact both of those schools, and cause a second year of rezoning. This doesn’t have to be an annual event. Better to take an extra year and make a plan that will work. It actually makes sense to make small changes like this rather than move kids 20-25 blocks around the district. And then the WHOLE community can respond and you can really what they want.

    48. JG says:


      ..Or simply implement controlled choice now and just incorporate the new school into the new “no zone” regime? No need for an annual re-do at all! Simple!

    49. Eddie says:

      @anon – fair question. I value a neighborhood school the most and purposely chose to live in a place where I get a diverse, neighborhood school. Is it as diverse as some others want it to be? No. But my child is definitely being exposed to other students from many different backgrounds while also receiving a very good education. As I’ve mentioned, there are many ways for families who live in zones with weaker schools to do this (G&T, MSC, UWSA, getting more involved in their child’s school and development, or moving into a better zone), so I don’t think it makes sense to dilute the top schools for the sake of the other schools – there has to be a better way. Am I being selfish? Yes. But if I am not for myself, who will be for me?

    50. Keats says:

      I agree that we need one plan. And if it is controlled choice, so be it. But from what I have heard from the committee meetings that are recorded, this cannot be decided that fast. Criteria have to be developed, so that they weight items like poverty, diversity, etc. and a technical system needs to be set up to sift through the data and make assignments. It will not be done by just giving everyone their first choice. I am not sure people have all the information on how controlled choice is actually done. If it will take time, as the committee is saying, then maybe we can do it – but not in time for the 2017 year. I fear we are rushing into something that will definitely change again the following year. If you have specific information on how long it takes to implement controlled choice (not a guess) then I would love to know, but based on the committee meetings that are posted online – it is not a fast process to set up.

      I do believe, too, that there should be neighbhorhood schools. I think is highly insulting for so called liberals to label everyone who wants a neighborhood school a racist. And Eddie, I also agree with you, that if everyone claims to be speaking for the underprivileged, who is speaking for the children of middle class families with parents who have worked hard to achieve enough success to be able to afford to live in a decent neighborhood. Again, everyone should have a voice.

      Isn’t it possible that there are others who are not speaking up, in the northern schools in our district, who also want neighborhood schools? Why are we assuming that every parent in those schools is willing to have their child taken out of their neighborhood any more than the parents with higher incomes? I think it is very unfair to assume we know what anyone wants unless we bring them to the table.

    51. dannyboy says:


      You are sorry to have to differ, sorry to be snarky to me, and conclude that it is best for you to just “be selfish”.

      Straighten up! You’re backwards. I did live in the South Bronx before moving to the UWS. And yes, across from the NYCHA projects. Why is all that so unacceptable to you?