Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Anarchy in the Pre-K: How the Mess Happened

June 8th, 2008 · No Comments

The reverberations of the Anarchy in the Pre-K situation continue, with a protest at City Hall this morning and calls for more protests and email campaign by disgruntled parents. One parent writing via the Park Slope Parents email list offers an interesting look at how a private contractor in Pennsylvania contributed to the mess:

I had a long talk with a parent coordinator this morning who told me more detail about the screening process than the Times article revealed. The article stated that parents either filled out the application incorrectly or the algorithms weren’t working. I can’t speak to the latter, but as for filling out applications “incorrectly”, this is what she told me: the data clerks in Pennsylvania were interpreting these forms without a clue as to what NYC looks like. If you mispelled a street name, you were rejected. If you left something off because you weren’t sure how to answer it, you were rejected.

This was mishandling on a personal level, because the program was shipped to a place outside the city, with real live people making judgement calls. The way it was handled last year (or before) was school by school, district by district, where the people making the assignments knew the parents and families and kids personally, and knew the street names (for example). On top of this, because of this huge backlog of problems, OSEPO (the office of student enrollment) is overwhelmed, leading to secondary backlogs the gifted program, etc. And because the process was centralized, there are very few – business school graduates – handling what used to be handled by many skilled and knowledgable people all throughout the city. She even said someone on the phone at Tweed was crying.

I am affected by this myself. Some kids who should have been accepted earlier in the year in her school were rejected, so they were reaccepted as Magnet students as a solution to keep them in the school, which is crazy because they are in their own district and don’t need the magnet status, thus bumping people like me, who needs a magnet admission to get into that school!

Given that the problem is about to become the political story of the month, it’s interesting to see how things will play out.

Tags: Education