Parents and politicians spoke at a school board meeting about rezoning Wednesday night.

By Anthony Ferrara

City Council member Helen Rosenthal chided the Department of Education on Wednesday night for not explaining more about the reasoning behind its plans to rezone elementary schools on the Upper West Side. The city has floated three plans for rezoning the schools, to reduce overcrowding and add racial, ethnic and economic diversity, but they’ve been met with skepticism and anger by some parents.

“Everyone has been giving diversity lip service and that’s unacceptable to me,” Helen Rosenthal said. “They [the DOE officials] need to make the case that diversity is something that is worth getting, which of course we all believe, and why from an educational point of view,” she added. She said she is “not in support of any of these [rezoning] scenarios.”

State assembly member Linda Rosenthal also found fault in the DOE’s process. She chastised the DOE for zoning 165 and 185 West End Avenue for PS 191, instead of zoning it for PS 199 like the other Lincoln Towers buildings.

“Regarding the school that is to be ready for September 2017 [the new school on 61st and West End, slated to become the new home of PS 191], we know nothing about that school,” she said. “It’s another case of ‘Trust me’ “I’ve been saying this to the DOE since I got into office 10 years ago, the way you estimate who goes to what school is wrong. DOE, we don’t forget. I am livid, and I know everyone who has a hand in this process, so don’t think you can pull the wool over their eyes. They are too smart for that.”

Parents from Lincoln Towers and other higher-end buildings in the district are anxious about sending their children to PS 191, which educates many of the children from the Amsterdam Houses project. Its test scores are lower than the city average and it was designated “persistently dangerous,” though that designation has been overturned. PS 191 principal Lauren Keville spoke at the meeting asking parents to consider the school. “I urge you to actually come see our school and see the wonderful things that are happening for our kids. There are a lot of misconceptions, and I think it’s important that you actually come up to the school and talk to our parents and see the success that we were having.”

One parent who lives near 191 said in an interview that he wouldn’t send his kids there until “they graduate the bad eggs.”

DOE officials and school board (CEC3) members had little patience for the agitated crowd at times. CEC3 President Joe Fiordaliso even asked for “no criticism of the board.”

A panorama of the board and DOE officials.

But when the third re-zoning map was finally unveiled, it was tough to hold back the criticism. Immediately, the crowd grumbled. The map on the screen “looks like something from Google maps,” a parent who wanted to be referred to as “W” said. Next, a voice from the audience yelled out, “Where are the street numbers?” which were absent from the handout. Board member DJ Sheppard said “Quiet! Next council member, please!”

Board member Noah Gotbaum said “This is all well and good, but where did you come up with the numbers for the redistricting of 165 & 185? Where are the dollars coming from? Which school is getting these dollars & how can you estimate your re-zoning budgets, when one of the buildings in the district hasn’t sold a single unit?”

“We’ll get back to you,” said Sarah Turchin, director of planning at the Department of Education.

“How does re-zoning 165 & 185 WEA relieve any problems with diversity, overpopulation, or money, when we are only talking about the movement of 5 or 6 children?” Linda Rosenthal asked. “Does that appeal to cries of diversity? How? The people of the Upper West Side are not stupid, and you should know they want the same data you are using!” This was met with raucous approval.

When parent Michael Ferrante left the meeting, and was asked why, he just said, “It’s just the same old stuff. I’m done & putting my kids in parochial school next year.”

Senator Brad Hoylman was next, berating the board, saying “You better have proof to back up your reasons for this. We need the data, and you are not giving us any to support your reasoning.” This was met with a round of applause as well.

The crowd had dwindled by the time the audience got to speak, but the speakers who remained continued to question the plans. “We moved from Harlem to 200 Riverside Blvd, in order to have access to PS 199, only to find out that his children were now slated for P.S. 191, which is less than one year removed from the most dangerous list?” said Ziv Arazi. “Why is that? What is your reasoning, do you know how many children are even in our building?”

As the crowd dispersed after the meeting, a father said “It looks like we’ve done a 360, we’re back to square one.”

Photos by Anthony Ferrara.

Correction: One of the quotes initially attributed to Helen Rosenthal was actually said by Linda Rosenthal. We’ve also corrected a section of Helen Rosenthal’s quote.

NEWS, SCHOOLS | 114 comments | permalink
    1. Carlos says:

      If this plan is going to be implemented for 2017-2018, it is getting really late for “We’ll get back to you.” I think that everyone on all sides of this discussion agrees that the DOE has been completely incompetent and non-transparent throughout. They are never going to make everyone happy but the whole process has been a mess. Does the board have any power to influence this or can they only vote on the proposals handed to them?

    2. H says:

      Ugh! Sure sounds like Rosenthal doesn’t care much about diversity if it inconveniences a few white parents. SMH!

      • Sherman says:

        Unfortunately, this is what UWS liberalism is all about – being progressive and open-minded and preaching acceptance of everyone – until diversity hits them personally.

      • UWS Mom says:

        Sending your kids to a school that has failing test scores and was designated persistently dangerous last year is not an “inconvenience”.

        • H says:

          So become part of the solution that raises the education level and safety of all children in the community. But by trying to keep the system as is shows that predominantly white parents only care about themselves. It’s shortsighted thinking. Those black and brown children are part of your community whether you like it or not. I’m sensing by many of the comments on WSR in regards to this topic over the years that many don’t like it.

          • UWS Mom says:

            Oh please! Parents expect the DOE to educate their kids, not to solve the DOE’s failing schools at the expense of their own kids’ critical learning years. By telling upper and middle class families “Here is a failing and dangerous school for your kids, we are keeping the teachers, administration and the current student body intact, now would you fix the problem for us even though we already provide terrific school options up the block” – what do you think is going to happen?

            • H says:

              Agaim you’re being too narrow minded but that seems to be common trait among the UWS parents. Condemn little black and brown kids because their parents do not have vast resources to help fund the programs that help the more sucessful schools thrive. These parents benefit from the DOE and the DOE should do what’s best for the majority of children. But you can remain on the wrong side of this because any decent human being would want as many children as possible to get a good education and not just for their own.

            • Zulu says:


              You’re indeed correct, the DOE should act in the best interest of ALL kids regardless of their skin color or affluence of their parents. And I believe that in this case the DOE is in fact striving to improve the performance level as a whole. However, I believe the effort won’t have the intended effect as affluent parents or even those with just enough means will simply get up and move to a different school zone. As we all know PS191 is considered to be one of the most dangerous schools in NYC including high schools. Unfortunately, the only kids going there are those who have no other choice. Nobody with the financial ability to relocate to a better performing and safer zoned school will willingly send their kids to PS191. At the end of it all, the DOE’s effort will be nullified.

            • Anon says:

              Even if Zulu and others are right and no UMC go to 191 this plan is still a win. 1/3 that would have gone their go to 199. A small number compared to the population of 199. 1/3 would go to the new elementary school. 1/3 remain in the 191 zone. Even if 191 never improves the DOE has given 2/3s of these kids a better school. For the kids who would haven been in 199 and are now thrown into the 191 zone, if they go to private school or move the Jersey they still get a good education. The sum total of the plan results in a good education for more kids than today’s zoning lines give us.

            • Zulu says:


              Yes, it appears to be a sound plan… on paper, but I have my doubts as for its effectiveness in real life. Let’s hope for the best.

          • H says:

            I couldn’t reply to Zulu’s post directly as there wasn’t a reply option but yes the parents that can afford to will take their children out of the system. To that I say what a luxury and privilege to have. And I also say don’t let the door hit you on the way out if you are going to run away from a challenge. Where does everyone think many of these failing students end up? Without the luxury of well off parents to support them and pull strings, the minority children become disenfranchised members of society. So it is in everyone’s interest to ensure they have a better education that is on par with the affluent children. Or not, and you can complain in the next post about crime or unemployment or welfare or drugs, etc. Again, the narrow minded thinking needs to stop.

            • Zulu says:


              You’re not wrong. Unfortunately, when given the option parents with enough means will choose the safer route for their kid’s education, and they can’t be blamed for it either. At best PS191 is a gamble and most parents would rather not play with that.

              I would much rather see a plan from the DOE where they would be looking to invest more money in the school for the purpose of adding teacher assistants to the classrooms, free after school programs and other in class programs. Of course that would open another can of worms… but I think it would provide better and faster results. Just my $.02

            • Anon says:

              It is beyond obvious that the DOE is more concerned about protecting its own interests and not about educating kids or addressing the wishes of parents.

              If they were there would be far more charter schools. Many of the charter school results are unbelievable. 13 out of the top 40 elementary schools out of 2,300 schools in NYC are charter schools. There was a rally this past week in Prospect Park with 25,000 people demanded the mayor double the number of charter school seats to 20%. Every single Success Academy has long wait lists.

              The charter schools unlike the DOE are meeting the needs of the kids and the desires of parents but this administration is completely deaf to the issue.

      • Riley says:

        Ziv Arazi doesn’t sound white to me, and sounds like there are only a handful of kids to begin with. Ziv’s kid(s) are like 20% of the kids moving.

    3. Sherman says:

      I feel bad for PS191 Principal Keville.

      From what I’ve heard she is, by all accounts, doing a great job.

      I recommend she put aside a day and invite parents to actually visit the school and allow them to sit in on classes and meet with teachers.

      The Board of Ed should also offer services at PS191 that are not available at other schools, i.e. computer programming, Chinese language instruction, advanced math programs, etc.

      This could act as an incentive to draw kids to the school.

      These things might be a better way to solve this mess than continually holding these angry meetings.

      • PedestrianJustice says:

        Seconded. Having met her and toured PS191, I feel parents are judging based on the past, not the present situation, current parental involvement at PS191 and plans for the future.

        Meet her. Visit the school as it operates today. You might be surprised.

        • Nony says:

          I completely agree–Lauren Keville has done an incredible job. Having toured the school under the previous principal and Ms. K, I noticed a difference the first time I walked in after she took over. It is much calmer, students seem more engaged, and all are working to improve the school.

    4. Anon says:

      Carlos – I have been going to these meetings since May. I have children in the district (not at 199 or 191) and have been truly amazed at how horrible this process has been for all families involved, regardless of what side of the arguments you are on.

      At Wednesday’s meeting, I heard questions asked by the CEC and parents that have been repeatedly asked since May and the DOE continues to have incomplete or no answers at all. It makes me feel like the DOE has a plan and these scenarios are only out in the public so the DOE can claim they has alternatives. I know one family that made a FOIA request in June only to be told by the DOE that the earliest they could respond was October (after all of the decisions are supposed to be made).

      As to the process, it is my understanding that after all of the public hearings are done the DOE will present one plan to the CEC and then they vote to recommend or not recommend. One complicating factor is that only the PEP (a committee of the DOE) has to vote on any re-siting, which would include moving PS 191 from its current location to the new school building on West End Ave.

    5. Calling BS says:

      Wow. Can we put this into context for a second. Part of the reason this issue of rezoning has made it to the forefront IS because of the infighting at 199. Two and 3 years ago, parents had a “civil war” trying to fight to keep parents on the waiting list out (arguing against the addition of k classes). Those meeting were very heated from my understanding. It seemed that to some it was ok that kids zoned for the school wouldn’t get it due to pure randomization. But, now that kids won’t get in because of systematic changes, whoa…

      Furthermore, 191 wouldn’t perhaps not have been drawn into this, had those kids on the waitlist not been assigned to 191. So, parents then discussed the issues and problems of 191 (this was even before the since removed persistently dangerous label).

      Now, all of a sudden, allegedly liberal uws is asking why is diversity important. Prove that segregation is an issue? seriously?

      I would bet a million dollars if the entire staff of 199 switched with the staff of 191, all the parents would still stay at 199. Can’t prove this, but I would think so. it is the kids right?

      Now, all of these arguments about why YOUR child shouldn’t go to 191 seem fairly rational and reasonable right? A lack of parental involvement. Discipline. etc.

      HOWEVER, wouldn’t those same EXACT arguments be made as to why those kids shouldn’t come to 199? Now, in that context, the argument starts to appear a little elitist and possibly racist. And even if you say it is NOT about race, when a policy has an effect that even if not intended disproportionately affects minorities it is said to had adverse impact and thus is a form of discrimination .

      • Juan says:

        To clarify one point – I don’t think most of these people are racists. I think they are classists. Unfortunately, classism and racism tend to be used interchangeably but they are very different. I am sure all of these families would be happy to have a school filled with black children of Ivy educated law firm partners.

        Perhaps most importantly, they want a school full of families who share their values, and the most important value is the importance of education. I think that many of these families believe that, based on the test scores, the families currently at 191 do not place as high of a priority on education as they do. They don’t care if the other kids in the school are rich or poor (though likely they prefer rich), white or black, but they want to be sure that the other students will also be highly motivated and will create a good learning environment.

        • H says:

          Haha. Classist definitely but you’ll see the racism show its head when the classrooms become too diverse. But it most certainly is racism. Racism requires power to be effective or else it is usually just words and opinions that, while hurtful and demeaning, have limited impact. But it’s the enormous amount of power they the white parents have over how this system and zoning play out. That is where the racism is coming through.

      • Anon says:

        Calling BS – And to add to it, the DOE had presented a rezoning plan last year that the 199 parents fought so vehemently that the DOE pulled the plan.

    6. Hard truths says:

      Everyone knows that the chair of the CEC zoning committee pulled her child out of PS 191 after Kindergarten. And that CEC president Joe F. raised a huge stink when his child was waitlisted at PS 199, insisting that he had the right to attend a “local school.” Sure, Kim, force OTHER upper middle class parents to “diversify” PS 191. Sure, Joe, force OTHER parents at 452 to accept a commute of 16 blocks. The CEC members are the WORST kind of hypocrites! Shame on them!

      • Cass says:

        Good point!

      • Meeting attendee says:

        I have been to many meetings and I commend Kim, who has done such an incredible job in this highly contentious situation. Very few members of our community could withstand the kind of pressure and scrutiny that she has endured in these meetings and now in this forum.

        Not sure a man would be getting this treatment. Shame on anyone who judges someone like this who has worked this hard for the good of the community.

        It is not fair to compare the past situation with this amazing opportunity going forward to de-segregate the lower section of our district with 1) a brand new school and 2) a sharing of the diversity among three schools.

        There are currently just over about 40 kids in each 191 elementary grade. The 2 northern buildings are being rezoned to 199. The others are being split between 191 and 343.

      • Factual Truths says:

        “Hard Truths”, I know Ms. Watkins personally, and can assure you’re completely misrepresenting actual hard truth when you say she “pulled her child out of PS 191 after kindergarten.” Her child qualified for specialized programming not available at 191, and I know that opting to leave was an extremely hard decision for the family—which, by the way, had been at PS 191 by choice in the first place (NOT by being routed there by the DOE but instead by CHOOSING IT—yes, listing it as their #1 pick–over her zoned school). She doesn’t have a hypocritical bone in her body.

        • Anon says:

          Your post is just double talk. A choice was made that PS 191 was not good enough for Kim Watkins’ needs. Many parents with kids eligible for gifted and talented programs decide to NOT send their kids to a G&T school because of the diversity that a non G&T school offers. Obviously, there are many types of diversity.

          I completely disagree with you on your point. Why is it any different for say my average child? We know that the PS 191 kids are behind grade level. Would you want your child who is say at a 3rd grade level being in class with children on a 2nd grade level? Of course you would not.

          I do commend the entire CEC for all their hard work and what an awful process this is. And that is another point. We live in one of the most diversified, vibrant and liberal communities in the US. A solution could be found. Not through this process and through a plan that is forced upon parents. What is the DOE and CEC not getting about that? The parents do not like the plan and no one likes the process. So sit down with the parents in focus groups and with surveys and ask them, what would it take to send their children to PS 191. Would a school within a school work? What about guaranteed small class sizes until diversity targets are met? Guaranteed enrichment. The best way to change a situation is through incentives and not by FORCING it upon parents. Hey you know what that is called: Democracy and capitalism both of which are completely lacking in this process. Also, there is no reason this has to be limited to the parents in a physical zone. Open it up to the entire zone.

    7. helen must go says:

      The hypocrisy and political opportunism of Helen Rosenthal is STAGGERING.

      Unlike the other electeds – when our group were waitlisted out of 199 and told to go to the “persistently dangerous” 191 last year. She couldn’t give a damn. Her position (then) was that the influx of our “group” would be a positive influence on 191 and that we could contribute to diversity.

      Did she want data then? no
      Did she say “this isnt right, we need the DOE to give us the data” no.

      She lots that time. and she lost the time before that.

      fast forward to now. NOW – look at her. NOW its become a wider issue and people at large in the community are looking at the issue and the other Electeds are rightfully outraged she’s jumping on the bandwagon. Calculating its going to be a vote winner.

      Two years ago – Helen (not Brad, Not Gail, Not Linda) told us to suck it up and go to 191. Not enough Votes in it to help us Vs all the other parents already at 199

      Now she knows its a VOTE LOSER to say that to Lincoln Towers she’s all of a sudden pretend “LIVID” about it.

      Give me a BREAK!

      You know what I am livid about.


      • mike marshand says:

        Agree with you 100%! All of a sudden its an issue for Helen Rosenthal once Lincoln Towers is involved. She needs to be voted out ASAP!!!

    8. Mike says:

      The Board of Education should be ashamed of themselves. The way they have handled the school rezoning has showed incompetence and more important, blatant and outright lies. They have not listened to parents and residents alike about what they actually want. They have not given one reason why this change is actually necessary and more importantly, they have not shown one valid reason why this plan will actually improve the education of our children. I personally do not have a child that will be affected by this, but if I do decide to have one in the future, I can only hope to afford to move literally the month before they need to enroll in school so they can go to an actual good school rather than be shafted into ps191, a school that should be shut down by the federal government for failing our children.

      • dannyboy says:

        ” if I do decide to have one in the future, I can only hope to afford to move literally the month before they need to enroll in school so they can go to an actual good school rather than be shafted into ps191, a school that should be shut down by the federal government for failing our children.”

        my hopes are with you.

      • Jeanne says:

        I was wondering if any parents who were unable to get into 199 actually sent their children to 191? If so, what is your experience at 191, if you don’t mind sharing. Thxs.

        • Hard truths says:

          The head of the CEC zoning committee sent her child to PS 191 for Kindergarten, then pulled her out as soon as a spot opened up in a District G&T program (aka the DOE’s White Upper Middle Class Retention Program). Ms Watkins has stated this in public meetings, by the way, I’m not giving away any secrets.

          What does this tell you about PS 191, and whether a bright child can get a good education there? Even the chair of the district zoning committee couldn’t hack it.

          • Anon says:

            I believe that Joe F lives in Presidential Towers which is on the north side of 70th. Except for 205 WEA which somehow wasn’t cut out of PS 199, everything south of Joe’s building is in PS 191 but his building is still in PS 199. Hmmmm. ..

            So, Kim Watkins pulled her child out of PS 191.

            Helen Rosenthal’s kids went to private schools.

            Do any of the CEC members live in any of the buildings being added to the PS 191 zone?

            but they all want others to send their kids to PS 191. If you do not walk the walk, stop the talk.

    9. dannyboy says:

      “You [the DOE officials] need to make the case that diversity is something that is worth getting”

      Helen should have credited George Wallace.

    10. dannyboy says:

      “One parent who lives near 191 said in an interview that he wouldn’t send his kids there until ‘they graduate the bad eggs.’”

      Who describes children like this??????

      bad egg
      a person who is bad, dishonest, or unreliable; a good-for-nothing:
      a bad egg who had served several years in prison.

    11. dannyboy says:

      “As the crowd dispersed after the meeting, a father said ‘It looks like we’ve done a 360, we’re back to square one.’”

      I disagree. Out neighborhood is now disgraced and dishonored by some parents’ acting out.

    12. A says:

      Don’t these parents realize that by sending their kids to this less than perfect school, it will help make the school better by having students attend the school with parents who actually give a shit?

      Or you could just go the way of my family member who lives in that complex and send your kid to private school. Whatever!

    13. UWS Mom says:

      2016 test scores (

      PS 199 4th grade
      ELA passing rate: 86.4%
      Math pass rate: 91.8%

      PS 191 4th grade
      ELA passing rate: 4%
      Math passing rate: 4%
      (4% is one student in the entire grade who PASSED the state test, despite “the wonderful things that are happening for the kids” according to the principal)

      Get real, DOE. Parents are not going to throw away their child’s education just so you can experiment with diversity. Guarantee that overcrowding in certain schools will be a problem again within a couple of years.

      • Mike says:

        Thank you for posting those numbers UWS Mom. Those numbers are startling to say the least. No one should have to send their children to ps191 and I mean no one. No one from Lincoln Towers, no one from Amsterdam Houses, no one on the UWS. Why are we leaving our children behind. The school has a systematic problem and needs to be shut down. A new building or new students will not accomplish this. We need a mass layoff of anyone involved starting w/ whoever is in charge of the school who has let it get to that ghastly state. We are better then this. I demand the DOE give a valid reason why this “new school” will improve when nothing is changing except a small portion of the student body, who realistically, will not change at all since any rich child in the area has parents who will now be sending their children to private school or will be moving.


        • dannyboy says:

          “nothing is changing except a small portion of the student body, who realistically, will not change at all since any rich child in the area has parents who will now be sending their children to private school or will be moving.

          how’s that threatening been working for you?

          • AP says:

            Those numbers are worth repeating:

            PS 199 4th grade
            ELA passing rate: 86.4%
            Math pass rate: 91.8%

            PS 191 4th grade
            ELA passing rate: 4%
            Math passing rate: 4%

            How would you feel if the DOE took your child, who is now zoned for 199, and tried to put him in 191?

            People like dannyboy (“the Donald Trump of West Side Rag”) have no personal investment because they have no school aged children.

            • dannyboy says:

              Nice try at censoring the truth.

              Tried lots.

              Doesn’t work.

              Except to expose the depths of falsehoods that you are willing to propagate to get your selfish way.

          • AP says:

            Good point, Mike.
            “No one should have to send their children to ps191.”

          • Mike says:

            dannyboy …what am I threatening. If you were at the meeting you would know that the lovely people did not answer any questions, did not prepare at all for the meting, and were basically incoherent in everything that they had to say since they were so unprepared. They have not done any research besides taking a pencil and drawing random lines on paper. There job is to answer our questions and give us reasoning for anything they do. They are not doing there job. A private company would have fired these people a long time ago…

            • dannyboy says:


              Schools aren’t turned around in a matter of days. I base this on personal experience. My children entered the Public Schools in the early 80’s when my wife and I were convinced by a dedicated Principal to give an under-performing school*, a chance. We both volunteered at the school. Things slowly improved, AND MY CHILDREN HAD A GREAT EXPERIENCE.

              Fast forward 30 years. “PS 191 Principal Keville, From what I’ve heard she is, by all accounts, doing a great job.” This comment was posted here. There have been lots of comments in this discussion about what’s changing and the potential for making this a great school. BUT NO ONE’S LISTENING. I just read a comment implying that, because my children are older, I am Donald Trump. This is all so toxic to me, that I can barely understand the motives.

              Mike, take a deep breath. You, and your contemporaries can make better schools. It is not magic.

              *that school is now doing a GREAT JOB of educating our children.

      • anon says:

        Thanks UWS Mom for pointing out that “4% is one student in the entire grade who PASSED the state test”. In other words, there are 25 kids in the 4th grade. Let’s assume that’s the average grade size unless you have other data. Splitting the zone into 3 different schools means that about 8 kids from the current 191 zone would go to each of 199, 199, and the new school. PS 199 has 5 or 6 K classes with 25 kids each, right? Do we really think 8 kids from the 191 zone will ruin that? As for the new 191 and new school they too will only have 8 of these kids plus whatever Lincoln Towers and fancy new condo building kids attend.

        I understand not wanting to send your kids to the existing PS 191 but that isn’t being discussed.

        • UWS Mom says:

          Let’s make it simple. There were 41 Kindergarteners at 191 last year.

          Theoretically under this proposal, they’d be split 3 ways across 191, 199 and TBD (about 14 kids each). 199 has the capacity to split their portion further into 6 K classes. 191 currently has only 2 K classes, but who know what next year would be like with this zoning proposal. Based on the outrage, probably only 1 K class.

          And besides that, the 191 administration, teachers and grades 1-8 will be EXACTLY the same. Recent test scores are obviously horrendous. The school environment is arguably dangerous. What else has changed? Any new special programs from the DOE that can benefit my child’s critical learning years, like maybe dual language or G&T? No. Just a new building.

          To me, that still seems like sending your kids to the existing PS 191.

          • Brandon says:

            But 2/3s of thos3 kids who would have been zoned for ps191 k get a better option. That is great for our community. If you choose private school so be it. Your kids are not more worthy of a decent education than others.

            • UWS Mom says:

              Who said anything about private school??? I can just move into the zone with the good schools. I don’t need to pay $40K+ a year when I can just pay some real estate broker and moving company fees. I’m sure other parents with resources think like me. Plus if I am looking to move to the UWS with a preschooler right now, you can bet I’m looking at the 452 or 87 or 9 zones. Then the DOE is dealing with overcrowding again with white families crowding into those schools and black families being left behind.

      • somewhat misleading stats says:

        Interesting how you picked 4th grade… while all grades do show pretty big differences it seems you “randomly” selected a data point to prove a point.

        Interesting how, not just with 199 and 191, there is such a strong correlation between these scores and teh percent of students receiving free lunch. And the percent of students black and hispanic. But it must be something special about 199…

        • UWS Mom says:

          Because parents care most about 4th grade test scores as they are used for D3 middle school admissions. But whatever, people here can just click on the link, the data speaks for itself.

      • Anon says:

        UWS mom I love you! Everyone thinks you’re me – thanks for saying everything that needs to be said. I second you!

    14. J says:

      The question isn’t whether diversity is “worth it.” The question is how to achieve diversity without screwing people. The DOE seemingly doesn’t mind screwing people. But the new plan won’t be effective if people feel screwed; people won’t cooperate and the new plan will fail.

      • dannyboy says:

        “people won’t cooperate and the new plan will fail”

        it is by not cooperating that failure will result…
        …productive approach

    15. SallyAnn Shuster says:

      Just like you, Amsterdam Houses parents want their kids in a good school too. No child is born bad, they just need to grow in the right environment. We should wish for the success of their kids for the betterment of our community, and share in the good of our public schools. No one group should have exclusive rights to all the good even if you are affluent, vocal and have politicians for spokespersons.

    16. Not Danny Boy says:

      Race is the big red herring.
      Test performance and safety is basically all that parents care about.

      Thought Experiment

      Imagine two schools.

      One has
      ELA passing rate: 86.4%
      Math pass rate: 91.8%
      and is predominantly Black

      The other has
      ELA passing rate: 4%
      Math passing rate: 4%
      Has been recently rated (then unrated) persistently dangerous
      and is Predominantly White

      Would you care about the racial make-up of the school or would you send your kid to the school with the best results?

      If you were white and it so happened that the school with the best results was predominantly black I don’t think you would care – indeed I think you would kill to enroll your child in the high performing school populated overwhelmingly with children of another race.

      People say its racist for parents not to send their kids to 191. But if it were safe and the results were good PLENTY of people would send them to a school populated with other races.

      Stop talking about Race like its a factor. Performance and safety is a factor.

      • dannyboy says:

        read the Comments, “not”

        • Not Danny Boy says:

          @Danny Boy

          Yep read-em. And?

          • dannyboy says:

            REALLY read them, not just the one’s that support you:

            “I am a mom of two little mixed girls who are zone to Ps199. As a parent of color I am disgusted by the comments these parents toward other children. Calling them “project kids” is degrading and hateful. I been living in the Upper West Side for 6 years, I seen/heard the racism from parents. I seen the way I get treated as less. Reading all these comments from “caring” parents is disturbing . No wondered why racism, sexism. xenophobia will never end. Calling children “project kids” “Color kids” “poor kids” is unacceptable. No wondered kids grow up to feel entitled.”

            • Not Danny Boy says:

              Your comments are entirely irrelevant to my perspective. I’m quite sure that plenty of people feel discriminated against in this city. But on this issue to imply that parents are racist to not send their kids is 191 is plain wrong.

              Parents want to send their kids to a safe school with good test scores whether the kids are black, white or blue.

              Its obvious. Race isnt a factor at all here. No one would be complaining about the rezone if they were being rezoned into a top performing school with a predominantly black population. They are complaining because the schools performance is in the toilet.

            • dannyboy says:

              “Your comments are entirely irrelevant to my perspective.”

              then can you please change your handle

      • FN says:

        Not Danny Boy, you are 100% correct. Race is the big red herring here. Racial diversity is being used disingenuously by the DOE to cover up their abysmal and inept abilities to fix problems at PS191. They want to use other children to smooth over their ineptitude. And if you are a parent of one of the children that the DOE wants to use to “fix” the problems at PS191, thereby increasing GREATLY the chance of your child being involved in a dangerous situation, you are racist. Nice gig, if you can get it.

      • Cass says:

        Good point!

      • juan says:

        Well put – thank you – this is the point I was trying to make above. People just want what is best for their kids. And if you don’t look out for your own kids, no one else will.

        Or the converse, directed at Dannyboy – “if you ain’t got nothing, you ain’t got nothing to lose.” It is very easy to try to revolutionize things when it isn’t your kids future at stake.

        • dannyboy says:


          Please refain from projecting your values on to me.

          I do not share toxic values like: “It is very easy to try to revolutionize things when it isn’t your kids future at stake.”

          why think such things?

          doesn’t make you kinda’ small?

          • juan says:

            I think the voices of parents with children who are or will be directly impacted by these changes should weigh a lot more than “concerned citizens” like you. I heard many parents at the meetings express similar sentiments to yours. I often disagreed but I completely respected their opinions.

            You, on the other hand, are constantly trying to crowd out all other opinions with your barrage of non-stop posts and snarky, snide responses. We get your point with your first post. Please then sit back and listen to what others have to say. Maybe some people will actually agree with you.

            Like you, I do not directly have skin in the game here as my children most likely will not be directly impacted by this plan (though I am not 100% sure of that because all of the details aren’t there due to the incomplete nature of the proposals). But I have a number of friends who will, so I am a lot closer to this process than you are. As are many of the other posters here on all sides of the issue.

            • dannyboy says:

              “I am a lot closer to this process than you are. ”


              see how that works?

              …but, i am


              because i know

              how do you like this kinda’ talk juan?

      • H says:

        There is a likely threshold that white parents won’t get past. If the school was predominantly Black and Latino they would only put their kid in the school IF they didn’t have the resources to go the private route. For many of white people on the UWS (and elsewhere) just being around people of color is dangerous in their minds. Its become acceptable practice to be afraid of humans with darker skin tones. SMH! So you cannot say it’s not race when it most certainly is.

    17. Andy says:

      Abigail Fisher is asking the same question. I love how Democrats become absolute hypocrites when the sanctimonious mandates they force upon others get applied to themselves.

    18. UWSdad says:

      Does anyone know (not looking for guesses!) how the possible New ES (Scenarios A and C) would work from the outset? Will it start with Kindergarten classes from the new zone, then 1st grade starts the next year, etc., until all the grades are populated?

    19. FN says:

      What is really happening here is this: PS191 was designated a persistently dangerous school and was statistically the second most dangerous in Manhattan. I have read that in the 2013 year, there were 97 violent altercations (about 1 every 2 days), 14 incidents involving weapons (about 1 every 10 days), and sex related offenses ( This is a combined elementary and middle school, not a high school!

      The DOE wants to fix this not by getting to the root of the problem, but instead by inserting other children from nearby into the school, thereby using them as sacrificial pawns which will dilute statistically the current dangerous environment and poor academic performance. They do this under the guise of “diversity”. So these children who are brought it will now be exposed to the kind of dangerous things that they have no exposure to now. Think a few of them might run into some trouble or some bad apples? The DOE knows this, but they don’t care at all.

      The DOE should be FIXING problems, not engaging in smoke and mirrors and tricks to shove problems under the rug. Fixing problems at PS191 means removing children from school who are bothersome or dangerous and setting examples which resound throughout the school so that the children who do attend PS191 and want to do well in school can do so.

      Lastly, IMO, this is not about diversity or racism. If PS191 was a great performing school, there would be no talk about rezoning for diversity purposes. And if PS191 was a great performing school, parents of white children would be jumping fences to join it regardless that they would be in a majority non-white school. This issue is about the impotent DOE and the inherent bureaucracy which prevents them from truly fixing problems for all children in the state. And they answer to no one.

    20. UWSparent says:

      Does anyone know how the new ES will work under Scenarios A and C? Would it start with kindergarten from the new zone, then add first grade from the new zone the following year, etc., until fully populated?

    21. J says:

      That quote from Helen Rosenthal is pretty amazing.

      Does she require advocates of diversity and equality of opportunity to “make the case that diversity is something that is worth getting and beneficial” in any of the other contexts where she advocates for more diversity?

      She has pushed for diversity in the FDNY and the film industry (and sought extensive press attention for doing so), but I don’t recall seeing her “make the case” with data on how the FDNY is going to to a better job fighting fires if their firefighters are more diverse. Somehow that wasn’t an impediment to her advocacy of the position–which I agree with, because it was the right thing to do. Diversity in the workplace, like diversity in the schools, is part of being the city and society we aspire to be.

      So why is she now pushing for data to show the benefits of diversity in the school context as a prerequisite to fixing the school segregation situation on the UWS? Would we have accepted that argument if George Wallace made it while standing at the door of the University of Alabama?

      • anon says:

        J –

        One of the items the DOE put forth, as an additional aid to help diversity, is to prioritize admissions to PS 452 for diverse students outside of the PS 452 zone. At the meeting, Helen stood up and said that it was such a bad idea it made her head hurt.

        Amazing – for once the DOE is actually trying to do something right and a politician wants to block it.

    22. Lis E says:

      everone involved in this debate could learn a lot from listening to This American Life Episode #562 “The Problem We All Live”. It will be like looking in the mirror for some.

    23. Cato says:

      Are you sure you have your Rosenthals right? You quote Helen as taking positions that are, as pointed out by several other commenters, radically different from what she has said previously.

      And you also quote Helen as saying “I’ve been saying this to the DOE since I got into office 10 years ago”. Helen has been in office only about two years; State Assemblymember *Linda* Rosenthal, on the other hand, was first elected in 2006 — ten years ago.

      Did your reporter perhaps confuse them?

      • It's all political says:

        The quotes have been confused in that article. Linda is still an awesome advocate for everyone. She was “livid” at the DOE like the rest of us. And with good reason. DeBlasio should be ashamed of himself for giving big real estate a free pass to good schools and for his handling of the DOE circus. Helen is still Helen – someone who thinks she knows what’s best for everyone else, then goes back to her $8 million apartment to relax.

        • West Sider says:

          There was one quote that was mis-attributed and we fixed it. Both Rosenthals spoke on Wednesday night. WSR

    24. Citizen says:

      The problem is that the are multiple issues and not one proposal has been comprehensive (correct me if I am wrong please). All these issues should be addressed for EACH proposal:
      1) zoning lines
      2) how to improve 191 BEYOND just the zoning
      3) # of students and classes that each building will hold (new building, 191, 199 and 452)
      4) some info (scrubbed for privacy) about the approximate new make-up of schools if the proposed zoning lines are put in effect

      When we see all that, we can make an educated opinion and we might even be able to help improve it. In the absence of a comprehensive plan, people are just mad and saying ‘no’ to everything. DOE and CEC – give us actual information!

    25. Pedestrian says:

      Imagine a City Council member wanting a city agency to explain their decision.

    26. Veteran Teacher says:

      As a D3 teacher and resident, I can hardly read these articles, they enrage me so much. If one more person says I’m Not Racist But, I am going to lose my mind. If you and your family benefit from racist policies and then you fight tooth and nail to defend those policies and preserve your white privilege, I’ve got news for you: that’s what being a 21st century racist looks like.

      Meanwhile, L Rosenthal sends mailers out that shows her with four white, and only white, parents outside WES. Message received!

      • carlos says:

        There are a lot of racial problems in society today. This is not one of them. By calling this a racial issue you are trivializing other more legitimate ones. There are clear problems with violence and poor academic performance at PS 191. So parents don’t want their children mixed into this. If there was an all white school with the same problems, I guarantee you that 99% of these parents would feel exactly the same way. And if there was a safe school with the best test scores in the city and it was all black, white parents would be banging down the doors to have their children attend that school. A true racist would not be sending their child to any public school on the UWS – even the least diverse school is more diverse than most other schools in America.

        • dannyboy says:

          How do you create this stuff. The fact:

          “For all its kaleidoscopic diversity, New York City has one of the most segregated school systems in the country, with divisions created and reinforced by decades of policy decisions.”

          Your school has been methodically deintegrated and you are defending that.

          Be honest with yourself.

        • Teacher says:

          I don’t consider school segregation to be a trivial matter, but rather, a deadly weapon that oppressors have wielded against people of color for many generations. But I guess we all have our own battles for justice to fight, and I wish you luck in yours. Working for better schools is mine, so I’ll get back to it and stick to the gentler neighborhood news on the WSR.

        • H says:

          Only it is racist. So some people are trying to be too cute and hide their racism behind veiled rhetoric OR they only think racism is when person A calls person B a racist name. Either way they are ignorant. One can participate in racist policies and practices without thinking they are racist but it doesn’t make them any less guilty of it, just naive that they are part of the problem. But some of the comments are straight up racist to the core. So yes it is racism…as someone else commented classism..white privilege as well. And these are parents? Wow. But somehow they are the moral Gods and Goddesses condemning how terrible those Amsterdam house children are.

    27. Red herring bs says:

      Race is red herring. What?

      If all the people in the Amsterdam houses were white…

      If all the ELL kids were upper middle class caucasians…

      If whites had higher crime rates, I’d be ok with the police harassing and shooting them…

      If men got pregnant, we wouldn’t give them leave for childbirth so it’s not really a womens’ issue.

      This is called counterfactual thinking.

      It conveniently allows us to rationalize discrimination.

      • Danny says:

        I see 2 ways out of this mass, one good and one bad: 1) forget about rezoning and just expand PS199, 2) pull principle and good teachers out of PS199 so its test scores would come down and won’t be sought after as much and overcrowding would cure by itself.

      • Not Danny Boy says:

        @red herring BS

        Counterfactual thinking is exactly what we are getting at here. We want to examine whether race is the predominant factor or not. Thats a fair hypothesis.

        I know many parents who wont send their kids to 191. You can presume it must be because of race – but what evidence do you have to back that up?

        Isnt it JUST OR MORE likely that safety is an issue? Isnt it JUST OR MORE likely that test scores are an issue?

        I for one would 100% put my white child in a safe and high performing school with children of OTHER races.

        I would NEVER put my child in an unsafe or poor performing school with children of the SAME race

        And you must have some nagging sense I expect that every other parent feels this way.

        So – you can bleat and whine about race being the issue. But you’re hopelessly wrong. If 191 was safe and had great or even decent test scores there wouldn’t be any issue at all.

        Its not racist to want a safe and productive educational environment for your child.

        • Anon says:

          If nobody is racist of classiest they won’t mind that 1/3 of the previously zoned 191 kids will go to 199 and 1/3 to the new (presumably most white and UMC) school. These children will get a better education. The UMC kids who are moved from 199 to 191 either go or find other options. They’ll be OK because their parents have the means to ensure they are. That leaves us with only 1/3 of the 191 kids still in 191. I’d like to see that school improved by an influx of money but if that doesn’t happen our community is still better off as a result of the rezoning. That should be the only thing that matters.

    28. Vote off the island says:

      Helen Rosenthal doesn’t have a clue. Worst council person ever.

    29. B.B. says:

      Notice Mrs. Rosenthal made this little announcement *after* winning the primary election.

      It doesn’t matter which group she ticks off as (sadly) who ever wins local council primary elections almost always goes on to win the general.

      Once re-elected Mrs. Rosenthal is term limited out so very little harm can be done to her politically now or in future. Unless of course enough people have long memories and the UWS elementary school rezoning becomes what Saint Vincent’s Hospital was to Christine Quinn.

      • Anon says:

        You are confusing Helen and Linda. This article really confuses the quotes so I understand. They are attributing quotes to the wrong people. Helen has term limits – luckily.

    30. Danny says:

      I see 2 ways out of this mass, one good and one bad: 1) forget about rezoning and just expand PS199, 2) pull principle and good teachers out of PS199 so its test scores would come down and won’t be sought after as much and overcrowding would cure by itself.

    31. UWSM says:

      There is no way to please everyone when rezoning. The only way that would be remotely feasible is if all schools were of equal quality — both perceived and actual. Keeping this in mind, I fear the DOE made the situation even worse by pure incompetency or naivete (or a combination). Having attended many of these meetings and followed this issue closely I’ve been impressed time and time again at the very obvious questions they are thoroughly incapable of answering. Questions about projected funding, population projections, etc. etc. Questions that one would think would be pretty important to figure out before you rezone. That incompetency paired with constantly moving the ball (e.g. releasing yet another proposal weeks before the planned decision, making maps difficult to read/search, etc) has made this an absolutely no win situation for DOE or any parent. We live in District 3, but likely would not be significantly impacted by the rezoning, but even I am now concerned about subjecting my child to the administrative incompetence of the DOE.

      • Suzy says:

        The DOE is not able to answer those questions because they are not using numbers and data for their maps. In both last year’s and this year’s proposal, they have included every brand new luxury building — including those that are further away and that have not been built!!–over the older buildings that have been part of PS199 when it was built over 50 years ago. These brand new buildings will have up to 100 new family sized apartments (each!) contributing to overcrowding at ps199, as opposed to the older buildings that admit 3 students (At the most!!) per year since they are naturally occurring retirement communities. You don’t need numbers to see that there are clearly special interests at play.

        • anon says:

          Suzy –

          You may be correct that special interests are at play unless and until the DOE provides data to the contrary. But let’s be realistic, the ultra-luxury buildings that are going up may have room for 100 families, but those families will likely be sending their kids to private school.

          As for LT, you are correct that next year only 3 children per building (165 and 185) would be going to PS 199 next year. But what about in 5 years, 10 years? I don’t mean this to be offensive, but given the average age of the residents in those buildings that have turned out for all of the zoning meetings, I expect that there will be some turnover in the not-so-distant future. Maybe the DOE is thinking about that as well (again, we don’t know since they provide no data).

          • Suzy says:

            Everyone said the kids at Trump Towers would go to private school, but very few did after they were zoned to 199. LT will always be a retirement community. They have specialized services (Project open, which includes social work services) that attracts older adults.

            The 51-foot luxury condo going up at 200 Amsterdam also claimed it wasn’t going to be families. BUT it is going to feature over 100 2,500 sq foot apartments–definitely family size, and will feature stroller storage, a kids room, and even a “tween room” according to a recent West Side Rag article:

            And the estimate of 3 per building for Lincoln Towers is not accurate since it does not account for kids that move out of the city, go to special education, G & T, etc. For example, there are only FIVE kids from 185 WEA (one of the Lincoln Towers buildings slated to be removed from ps 199) in PS199 in TOTAL. ONLY 5 KIDS!!! That is only 1 child per grade!!! Even if there was turnover, which is unlikely, that is far fewer than number of children slated for these new luxury high rises — most of which are further away (e.g., Aire) and the one described above that has not even been built!!

            • June Bug says:

              That’s right Suzy. Last year 185 had 1 child matriculate into Kindergarten at PS 199. For 1 kid per year the DOE is zoning out our building and moving in buildings not built yet that offer stroller storage. I guess handling overcrowding is not the point. But DeBlasio satisfying big real estate is the point!

            • anon says:

              Here’s the real problem…..without the data the DOE is using, we have no idea what they are using to base splitting Lincoln Towers or conducting any of the rezoning. But if the DOE put forth real data that showed the long term benefits of splitting LT would the residents change their mind?

            • June Bug says:

              Also note, 185 has no naturall 3 bedrooms. Mostly studios 1 bedrooms and some 2 bedrooms. The majority of people moving in are retireest to be part of project open and Lincoln Center. The building is not turning over to young families.

      • Anon says:

        I couldn’t agree with you more UWSmom. Were you there for the lead hearing when no one would take responsibility for the lead levels in the water? It was truly unbelievable. I’m scared to put my kids in the DOE’s care.

        90% of the schools have elevated lead levels in the water, kids have elvated levels of lead in the district and all they could say is that at least no one got lead poisoning. Nytimes uncovered that they are cheating on the lead tests.

        Once again I love you UWSmom! Everyone thinks your comments are coming from me.

    32. Anony says:

      SHAME on the DOE for putting the CEC in the position of having to make sense of half-baked rezoning plans. I attended one of the prior hearings and CEC members were asking questions concerning the lack of data and transparency behind the DOE plans. I applaud the CEC for not just approving any plan presented before them, and I hope they continue to seek out meaningful data that results in any rezoning. The last thing we need is to be back here one year from now when issues of overcrowding resurface in the district 3 schools once again.

      • dannyboy says:

        Someone’s not looking at their “District 3 Demographic and Enrollment Data”:

        PS 199 – 1% Black and at 141% Enrollment

        PS 191 – 9% White and at 77% Enrollment

        • Suzy says:

          Dannyboy, where are you getting this information? Your data appears to be wrong. According to the most recent NYC DOE statistics (2015-2016):

          It is true that PS191 is only 11% caucasian (slightly higher than what you reported) but PS199 is only 63% caucasian.

          Also, keep in mind that the DOE’s plan is not addressing “racial” diversity–they are only addressing socioeconomic diversity. They are proposing to increase diversity through the use of “free and reduced lunch.” The assumption that children who need free and reduced lunch are not caucasian is racist!!

          • dannyboy says:


            I just read your words: “Dannyboy, where are you getting this information? Your data appears to be wrong…The assumption that children who need free and reduced lunch are not caucasian is racist!!”

            I need to let you know that I find your comment quite offensive. You start out that I am providing data which is WRONG and conclude that I must be RACIST.

            If this were a sincere reply, it would have discussed our differences, but it was not. It is meant to discredit.

            I will provide the Source in a separate Reply.

          • dannyboy says:


            As promised here is my Source:

            Enjoy hiding your motives behind your “Data”.