Letters, Week of April 23, 2015

Bring back neighborhood middle schools

To The Editor:
The extensive article concerning the muddled middle school enrollment process made no mention of the fact that the concept of the neighborhood school has been downgraded (news article, April 9-22, “Parents look for better way to apply to middle schools”).

While many parents opt for schools seemingly offering a variety of specialized curriculums, others who simply want their children to transition to their neighborhood school receive no extra consideration. Much of the middle school quagmire is the result of local schools operating as separate entities with no real oversight.

Middle school applicants are cherry-picked by an unsupervised selection process where principals scramble to restock their classrooms with students they believe are the best and the brightest. This free for all selection has been sanctioned by the use of the ”screen” school with admission based upon a list of questionable standards under the heading of “criteria.” These are devices used to exclude and discriminate.

Students not selected by the schools they have requested are banished without parental consent or input to a “zoned” school often requiring many hours of weekly commuting. Neighborhood schools deny seats to children of local residents yet import students from other areas of the city. Moving up from elementary to the neighborhood middle school should be a normal and expected transition. This would eliminate much confusion and uncertainty. Eleven-year-olds instead are disbursed throughout Manhattan in a grab bag placement scheme designed mainly to benefit favored schools. Officials have ignored complaints concerning these issues.
B. Wallace Cheatham

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