Wednesday, October 1, 2008

District 15 Pre-K Petition - and Potential Accompanying Controversy

Some Park Slope parents are concerned about the availability of UPK in the near future, and they have organized a petition to encourage the formation of an Early Childhood Center for Northern District 15 (of which Sunset Park is the southernmost neighborhood). Check out the text here, and see if you want to sign. The petition calls for the ECC to be "along the F line," which clearly makes it not something readily accessible to Sunset Park. MySidewalkChalk has a post about the availability of spaces in various elementary schools in District 15, and she also has a link to the petition. A comment (the first, and so far only, one) to the post brings up possible reasons for the location request:

I admit that I'm not well-schooled (pun intended) on the specific data, but I do know that the poorer end of Sunset Park - the southern end has always been ripped off by the park slope end. This seems to be racial in nature. The northern end tended to be white (third & fourth generation Italian, Polish & Irish), while the southern end saw more ethnic change. Before I would consider signing this petition, I would want to give serious consideration as to where the pre-k population is growing. The southern end is experiencing the highest birthrate in the city - in part due to Asians "beating" the one child per family China rule by being here in the U.S. Walk any side street - 40's, 50's and see the number of pre-K and about to be pre-K kids. The new residential construction in the south end and the number of undocumented residents in basement apartments and 7 families to a 3 family building is huge. South S.P. will be busing pre-k and k kids out of the neighborhood in big numbers.

I'm a fan of more schools, early childhood centers, and UPK no matter where they are. However, the commenter has a point about where population surges seem to be. Despite the explosion of 4th Avenue Condos in Park Slope, it would seem that Sunset Park has a huge fertility advantage where population growth is concerned. Of course, what things look like to the human eye are often mitigated by raw data. I'll see what I can find - although most data is years old by the time it's available.

Sunset Park has a 120 seat Early Childhood school with a solid reputation already. It also has a very long waiting list, which demonstrates need for additional programs. Check out what has to say about The Magnet School For Early Childhood. In addition, a new Pre-K school is set to open in 2010 on 4th Avenue and 64th. It is supposed to be able to handle an additional 18 or so Pre-K through 2nd grade classes. That will probably mean another 80 or so seats for Pre-K. It's not entirely clear which district it will serve, although its location on the northern side of the elevated highway seems to indicate District 15. Enough to supply Pre-K for Sunset Park? Probably not, but it's a start.

Thanks again to Joyce at MySidewalkChalk for her ability to disseminate information!

1 comment:

Joyce Szuflita (chef-leeta) said...

There are never enough preK seats to go around for everyone. I have found that the new Early Childhood Center at 64th and 4th Ave. will serve District 20 but will draw from the southern part of Sunset Park which is in dire need of more preK seats. In the recent report from the DOE there are seats available for this fall in ps 130, 131 and other CBOs in Sunset Park. This is not an us against them issue. It is parents advocating for their children wherever they live.