This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Brookside Elementary School2
Posted January 19, 2015
- a parent
We didn't have a good experience at Brookside. I have succumbed to the great Oak Park schools hype and got my children transferred to BES. A few weeks into the year they started complaining about clique kids and hard time fitting in. I have tried talking to the school administration, but was told that OP schools are not for everyone and if we are not happy we can always go back to the homedistrict. I did just that and put my children back into an elementary school in our homedistrict. That was my absolutely best move. Not telling that OP school are bad for everyone. Only wanted to let other parents know that out-of-district families have a chance of been considered less equal ones by the administration, and that students who don't match school ethnic profile might have difficulties blending in. In my opinion academic program at BES was dull and not challenging enough for my children. The school didn't engage kids into deeper learning, on most days they were repeatedly going over the test questions. Our current school has higher API score than BES, more diverse demographics, well rounded program and very reasonable administration.
Before listening to your agent and moving to OP, check some things yourself. OP residents pay on average pay about $1200 in extra taxes in the form of parcel tax and school bonds. Don't assume that higher taxes makes OPUSD schools any better. Classes are very crowded, i.e. 30 kids per class in elementary, 40 in middle, up to 50 in high. There are lots of teachers in the district with only a few (<5) years of experience. Curriculum is extremely basic, doesn't even come close to LAUSD magnet program. If you are looking for an individualized attention, advanced program option, musical instrument classes, hands-on learning, assignments in the form of oral presentations, STEAM, singapore math, talent shows, class plays made by students and teachers, spelling bee, history days, etc. that is absolutely not the school to meet your expectations, the school offers none from the list. If you are in search for a school with a basic curriculum where most of the homework is computer-based (think no word, sentences or story writing just drag-and-drop), where powerpoint had replaced oral presentations and where your child will be doing color-by-number as a fun activity you have got a match.
Warning: Do not move to Oak Park because you have heard that the public schools are so great. Do not believe the hype. Brookside has been a huge disappointment. This is a very cold place where high test scores are valued above anything else. There is no sense of community or connection with others. Honestly, the teachers here are pretty good. They are veteran teachers with organized and well-managed classrooms. It's just that they are under tremendous pressure to improve the test scores, and that pressure is then passed on to the students who are stressed out (even in kindergarten).
The school is severely overcrowded, the first grade classes have 28 students in (and the # goes up with grade). Now imaging the regular school day. Out of those 28: 2 are special need students, 3 speak no English, 4 can not read (yes, in this "highly academical" district there are still children who can not read after K). Who is struggling? Teachers and students who are at least at the average level. Teachers are frantically trying to work with below average kids, since those are lowering CST scores and can reduce the funds received by the district. Average kids are left with "sit quiet and read a book, honey" type of learning. You can ask for extra homework for the child and get it, but that's all. Unfortunately even the best teachers can not do miracles and create thriving environment for everyone in the group of 30. As for extras, the art program that PTA creates so much hype about is once a month class, music is 30 mins a week, PE is 30 mins twice a week. Chorus is not free, same as drama (guess BES is the only school in the nation where you need to pay for your child to sing in the school chorus).
We have been at Brookside for three years now. We chose this school in part because of the reviews that we read here. Teachers are awesome and the community of parents can not be beat. However, the principal and admin staff are horrible. The principal views parents as nothing more than an ATM machine. She has enacted policies that keeps parents off campus before the school day even begins. You are not allowed to walk your child on campus to class. The idea that parents should be treated as customers is completely lost. She wants your $ though. At a PTA meeting last year she actually had the nerve to suggest that we were so hard up for funds (we are not) that people should consider signing over their tax returns to the school. If you want a school with good solid teachers and a staff that will make it loud and clear that parents are not partners or even customers then this is the school for you.
The school makes parents pay for the textbooks, The price the school charges is at least 2X the actual books cost. Cost of enrolling a child is almost $500 ($180 school donation + $150 district donation + $100 books cost + various PTA fees) by the first day of school, plus they have dosens of fundraisers scheduled through the year, so expect the cost be close to thousand per year per child. Rather expensive for an elementary public school with no after or before school care.
This is our second year at Brookside, and the overall curriculum and environment exceeded my expectations which were high. There is truly a balance of academics and art, music, science (earth and physical), theatre, PE, computer and history in Brookside's curriculum. In addition to the teachers' art, theatre and cultural lessons, there has been an Artist in Residence program in place each year to provide projects focused on varying art mediums along with art history lessons. The kids love these programs and the PTA is very involved and supportive to bring unique learning to the students. The teachers use creative differentiated learning techniques to engage the children in Math, Language Arts, Earth Science, Physical Science, Geography, Chinese Culture, Global Cultures, Writing Workshop and Social Character. My daughter has made many friends at this school and the parents are down to earth and there for each other. The teachers are top notch and have a gift for providing a nurturing environment while recognizing the students' individual needs and appropriate level of challenge to keep the students excited about learning. Super school all around! Thank you Brookside!
Brookside is an excellent academic school for those who are looking for only that. I've been in BES for over 7 years and have 3 kids who went thru the school and saw how the school has been pushing down the academics. My son in 2nd grade did math that my daughter, who is only 3 years older was doing at the end of 3rd. In my son K class the centers work was to much, they never finished it, some kids got frustrated and some scribble to get it done with. there's a lot of homework and high exceptions from the kids and parents. I was complaining about my son reading and asking for help at the first week of school (last year) and after telling me over and over that he's fine, I insist on a full assessment that found that he has visual processing problems and needs help...the IEP meeting was a week before the end of the year! On the good note, the PTA is VERY strong, they run amazing programs for the kids, doing hard work to fund raising and the parents involvement is huge. Without the parents involvement it wouldn't be the school it is. My kids are no longer going to Brookside. I wanted them to be in a school that cares about them more then they care about the star testing scores!!
This is our first year at Brookside and its a breath of fresh air. What an amazing school and our children are so happy. The education is excellent and the children are all so happy to be at school. This is truly a one of a kind school and we love it.