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Via Brownstoner, a checklist for making your local school better

In an extensive comments thread today on Brownstoner.com, a Web site that focuses on real estate in brownstone Brooklyn, readers are debating whether it makes sense to choose a home based on the local school. (Their discussion is inspired by the recent Times story about how some parents who until recently were planning on sending their children to private school are getting an unpleasant surprise when they learn they what school they’re zoned to attend.) Some say yes, but others say that rather than moving, parents should focus on improving their zoned school — and they have advice about how to do that.

Writes user BedStuy11216: 

Instead of complaining and trying to squeeze ever more kids into the already overtaxed Good schools, target an underfunctioning school but one that shows some promise and has an administration open to new ideas and partnerships. Organize and recruit your fellow wealthy parents to commit to sending their kids. Instead of $25- 30,000 a year have each of them commit to contribute at least $3,000 per child. Focus on something the funds will go to that will improve the overall quality of the school (library, computers, science lab, gym equipment, sound and lighting equipment for the auditorium, chess teacher, art supplies, after school program). Have them use their lofty connections to get organizations to partner with the school. Create a relationship with local politicians to get your chosen school on the radar. With extra funds and a heatlhy partnership between parents and school administrators, within two years you will see a turn around.

Other commenters are suggesting schools that are “ripe for a turnaround” of the type that PS 11 in Clinton Hill experienced after a core group of involved parents there teamed up with the school’s principal to become an attractive option for gentrifiers moving to the neighborhood. PS 11 parents threw a fundraiser for Insideschools.org last spring to thank the site, where I worked at the time, for its role in promoting new developments at the school, which included the addition of enrichment classes, a reduction in class sizes, and a partnership with the human rights organization Amnesty International. The parents I spoke to at the fundraiser, whose children have been at PS 11 for several years now, said they were working on a strategy to bolster the district’s struggling middle schools.