A lot of public school parents have been calling me lately because they’re considering applying to private high school or middle school, or switching to private. Surprisingly often these parents are from places like Bronxville, Scarsdale, and PS 6. This is what’s typically on their minds:
- Too many budget cuts. They’re talking about firing the teachers’ aids, or combining the elementary school with the high school in the next town, shutting down the chess program or eliminating third grade… it’s too much.
- Too many students in the class. How can my child learn if there are 30 other kids in the class, half of whom are delinquents, and of course my child is gifted? Naturally, the teacher can’t teach to my child’s level, and with all the professional development days, she’s absent half the time anyway.
- Too much state testing. My child is 9. She has spent so much time mastering filling in a bubble with a #2 pencil, that she cannot yet ride a bike.
- Too much prep for state testing. Analogies, reading comp, vocab–4th grade is the new 11th grade.
- Not enough high level courses and enrichment. I want my child to be able to take Mandarin Chinese or fencing and the budget cuts make this impossible.
I am being flip here but the truth is it is a serious loss for New York State and New Yorkers that the public school educational experience is being damaged by an overreliance on testing and data collection and that even the best public schools are seeing their programs cut back due to the negative economic situation.