The Center for New York City Affairs has released a study about “How School Choice Divides New York City Elementary Schools”. It found that 40 percent of New York City kindergartners did not attend the nearby school to which they are zoned for in 2016/2017. That’s 27,000 5-year-olds that leave their school zones every morning to attend charter schools, schools with gifted & talented programs, dual language programs, un-zoned schools and traditional public schools for which they are not zoned.

The schools they pick, the study found, tend to share two main features: They had fewer poor students than the zoned schools the families were leaving, and they had higher test scores. Nonetheless, for those who hoped school choice would lead to a more equitable system, this report poses one more sobering paradox. School choice may indeed give thousands of children better educational opportunities by allowing them to escape low-performing schools in their neighborhoods. But the schools they leave behind face ever-greater challenges as they struggle to serve the city’s neediest children.

The proportion of families opting out of their zoned schools varies widely from neighborhood to neighborhood. In higher-income and predominately White and Asian neighborhoods, parents are more likely to enroll their children in the zoned neighborhood schools (i.e. PS 321 and PS 58). But in historically African-American neighborhoods and gentrifying neighborhoods (i.e. PS 287 and PS 38), parents are more likely to exercise school choice. Those who stay are more likely to find themselves in schools with higher concentrations of poverty and more classmates who don’t speak English.

What does it look like in your school zone and district?

Rates of Kindergarten School Choice in District 13 and 15:

The percentage of students leaving their zone in our neighborhoods (not attending Kindergarten in their zoned school) in school year 2016/2017:

  • 64% of students chose not to attend PS 307 in Vinegar Hill
  • 15% of students chose not to attend PS 8 in Brooklyn Heights
  • 17% of students chose not to attend PS 29 in Cobble Hill
  • 10% of students chose not to attend PS 58 in Carroll Gardens
  • 54% of students chose not to attend PS 32 in Gowanus
  • 68% of students chose not to attend PS 38 in Downtown Brooklyn
  • 64% of students chose not to attend PS 282 in Park Slope
  • 85% of students chose not to attend PS 287 in Downtown Brooklyn
  • 73% of students chose not to attend PS 20 in Fort Greene
  • 6% of students chose not to attend PS 321 in Park Slope
  • 53% of students chose not to attend PS 11 in Clinton Hill
  • 35% of students chose not to attend PS 9 in Prospect Heights
  • 38% of students chose not to attend PS 261 in Boerum Hill

Map: All zones in New York City in the New York Times

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