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Harlem Parent Feel They Still Do Not Have Choice

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Back in 2002 when Michael R. Bloomberg was running for mayor he made certain promises to his voters concerning giving NY parents wider school choice for their children. The word is, he actually meant to keep these promises for we can see it ourselves: over the last 10 years of Michael Bloomberg’s being the mayor of NYC, more than 500 public schools have been opened and conditions established, under which charter schools could thrive. Other 100 low-performing public schools are to be closed soon.

There has not been a neighborhood, which benefited more from that than Harlem. It was an obvious choice to become the test site for education reforms, taking into consideration its rich history, location and a number of socioeconomic and cultural aspects that make the place truly unique. Adding to it is low academic performance of students and high dropout rates. The main idea at the heart of the reform was to allow Harlem parents to look for schools, which they feel would be the most beneficial for their children.

But whether or not it really gave parents more school choices still remains a question, for the recent survey conducted among Harlem parents, showed all of them have totally different Harlem public school experience. Despite what the city’s guidebook says, many schools in Harlem are low-performing and limited in terms of giving parents more school choice.

Statistics say only a few of 25 Harlem elementary-schools can boast of 50 and more percent of students’ having passed the statewide tests. However, it has been proven that a group of Harlem ‘new schools’ (that is those built since 2002) tend to show better results on standardized tests than their ‘older peers’.

While there are some children who are lucky enough to be students of charter schools, which provide highly effective teaching and quality extracurricular programs, the majority of Harlem students attend schools that do poorly on standardized tests and have no funds to offer students many after-school activities.

Many parents suffer disappointments and say they were not provided with accurate information on local public schools at the time they had to make their choice. And now that many public schools face sufficient budget cuts, overcrowded classrooms and even possible closure, they are forced to look for other options, being unable to have their kids enrolled into charters, which could definitely mean better educational opportunities.



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