Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Letter from District 3 Families to Chancellor Klein

Following is a letter written by CS parents Nancy Brandwein and David Felton on behalf of District 3 families. This letter states our position as follows:

District 2 has six screened schools that offer preference for their students. District 3 has none. All screened schools should take students from across the city and not be limited by geography.

If you agree with this, please copy and paste the letter content into a word document, print, and mail and/or paste into the links provided on this blog. Scroll down and look to the right to see contact information for Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein, and our Upper West Side and Manhattan elected officials.


Joel Klein
Department of Education
New York City
Tweed Courthouse
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Dear Chancellor Klein:

In the New York City high school application process we face a gross inequity as we negotiate the stressful, complicated process of trying to get our kids into screened high schools. There are at least six screened schools in District 2 that offer preference to either District 2 students or students in their geographic area. These high schools are: Eleanor Roosevelt, Millennium, School of the Future, Baruch College Campus High School, NYC Lab School, and NYC Museum School.

It happens that these schools are consistently among the top-rated screened public high schools in New York City, and technically any 8th grade student in the city can apply to them. But because these schools are mandated, sometimes against the school's own wishes, to give preference to District 2 students, it's much harder for students outside the district to get in. Yet very few high schools in other districts offer a similar district preference, so understandably many parents feel that students in District 2 (which happens to be one of the wealthiest districts in Manhattan) enjoy an unfair advantage over students in the rest of the city.

We are in District 3, and there are currently no screened schools that offer preference to District 3 students. These students, applying for high school from such District 3 public middle schools as Mott Hall II, Delta, Computer School, Columbia Secondary School, and The Center School, find that the playing field is not level. Many of these students are interested in rigorous high schools with high graduation rates and offerings of AP classes, such as the six mentioned schools in District 2, and Beacon High School in District 3. But the District 2 schools essentially exclude them, and Beacon is open to students citywide, which would be fair enough if that policy were followed by all high schools in the city.

As parents of these District 3 children, who like all parents in the city pay taxes for all the schools in the city, we feel that the quality of our children's high school education, and potentially college education, is skewed by where they live -- and that the DOE condones this inequity. In fact, according to at least one District 2 high school principal, this unfair and discriminating practice has been enforced most rigorously in the last four years, at the behest of the Chancellor of the DOE.

Please get back to me with your thoughts on how the DOE will level the playing field so that our students, and all New York City students, can have the same opportunities that District 2 students enjoy.



  1. Great idea.

    How about moving it beyond district 3?

    A city-wide movement to abolish district preference in high school selection.

    Letter writing campaigns. A rally or two at city hall.

    Let's make some noise.

  2. We agree. I will be posting our group's position to this effect shortly. Who are you? Would you like to join our HS action committee?