Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Condos First

The housing situation in Manhattan has been tight for as long as anyone can remember. So the best thing, of course, is to build in areas with good public schools. Everyone knows there's nothing like a good public school to prop up real estate prices and help sell whatever's on the market. But Manhattan's expensive, and paying a $20,000 tuition or three, in addition to mortgage and maintenance fees, could be a deal breaker for some.

But schools like PS 199 are at the breaking point, with no place to put the additional students that new constructions will inevitably bring. And apparently, there aren't any toxic waste sites in the area for Mayor Bloomberg to build on. Still, neighborhood school PS 199 has to continue to accept kids who move into the area, no matter what.

This is nothing new to me. I've been teaching in a building that's exceeded 250% capacity for years, and God help us, really, if there's a fire. A fire, though, would be about the only thing that would garner enough outrage to halt the mayor's pattern of indifference toward learning conditions.

When a parent complained at a recent meeting, Chancellor Klein replied, “Send your kids to private school.” The DoE denies this is true, but they also deny that classes are overcrowded and that teachers are quitting in record numbers. On TV I see commercials that declare class sizes have been reduced, though sizes of 38 and 40 barely raise eyebrows in my school anymore.

Elsewhere in the country—in Florida and Georgia, for instance—developers have to pay impact fees when they build houses so new infrastructure can be created to serve the growing public. But no such policy exists here.

That would be anti-business, I suppose. But it hardly supports the administration's contentions of putting "Children First."

What's going to happen to PS 199? The same thing that happened to my school years ago, of course. In Mr. Bloomberg's New York, it's developers first, then condos first, then sports stadiums first, then billionaires first. And then, of course, it's children first.
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