Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Race and Class Collide in a Plan for Two Brooklyn Schools - The New York Times

Race and Class Collide in a Plan for Two Brooklyn Schools - The New York Times:

Race and Class Collide in a Plan for Two Brooklyn Schools

Parents and students at Public School 8 Elementary School, right, in Brooklyn Heights and at Public School 307, left, in Dumbo, Brooklyn. CreditMichael Appleton for The New York Times, left; Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

At Public School 8 in Brooklyn Heights, the auditorium’s stage is crowded with music stands that were stored there when the music room had to be turned into a first-grade classroom.
The prekindergarten program was cut because of lack of space. And with the school operating far above capacity, 50 families who live within its zone — which also includes Dumbo and much of another Brooklyn neighborhood, Vinegar Hill — were placed on a waiting list for kindergarten last spring.
To the city, the solution for the overcrowding at P.S. 8 seemed obvious: move those two neighborhoods from P.S. 8’s zone and into that of P.S. 307, which is nearby and has room to spare. The proposal, however, has drawn intense opposition, and not only from the families who would be rezoned from the predominantly white P.S. 8 to the mostly black P.S. 307. Some residents of the housing project served by P.S. 307 also oppose the rezoning, worried about how an influx of wealthy, mostly white families could change their school.
For all its diversity, New York City, by some measures, has one of the most segregated school systems in the country, in part because many elementary schools are effectively closed off to children who live outside their zones. And although the Brooklyn rezoning is mainly a response to crowding, it is becoming a real-life study in the challenges of integrating just one of the city’s schools.
It is also, perhaps, an unavoidable result of the gentrification in its part of Brooklyn. For many years, the area that came to be named Dumbo, for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, was a decaying industrial district with relatively few families.
Shirese Casenave, 51, who grew up in Farragut Houses, a public housing complex that now sends many children to P.S. 307, said she recalled some of her friends being bused to P.S. 8. “They had a choice,” she said.
That has changed, as Dumbo has become a thriving neighborhood where condominiums regularly sell for millions of dollars. Saying that the crowding problem was urgent, the city’s Education Department plans to present its proposal at the end of the month to the District 13 Community Education Council, which represents school parents in the area and has the power to approve rezonings. The department is hoping the council will vote on the proposal in time for the boundaries to take effect next year.
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A Proposed School Rezoning Creates Controversy