Navigating the system: New York
Live in or around NYC? We did the homework to help parents make informed choices about the area's schools.
Learn more on what to look for when touring schools in these videos:
Video: How to find a middle school
Video: A guide to private schools
By GreatSchools Staff
When Laura Brown’s daughter was 4, she and her husband went to check out their neighborhood school on the upper West Side of New York. They had high hopes for the school, but they were disappointed. The school’s test scores were low and it was overcrowded. The kindergarteners had to take turns going out for recess because they couldn’t all fit on the playground at the same time. The other half sat in the auditorium watching cartoons.
“As parents we were torn,” Brown said. “We wanted the best situation for our daughter but we felt guilty for leaving behind a bad school. But it comes down to doing what’s best for your child.”
The Browns knew that the school would not work for their daughter, so they set out to navigate the complex system of New York’s public schools. With more than 1.1 million students, 1700 schools, and 80,000 teachers, New York has the largest school system in the country. Finding the right school can be a daunting task and will probably mean a bit of homework for the parents.
Liz Perelstein, president of School Choice International, helps families who have kids starting in New York’s schools, whether through relocation or starting in kindergarten. The fact that NY has lots of options when it comes to school creates challenges as well as opportunities for parents, she says.
“Choice is great, but it makes picking the right [school] that much more complicated,” she said, with a laugh.
Need help beating the system? Read our suggestions for navigating the area's often-complex rules and finding the best school for your child.