The city wants to invest millions of dollars to open a new, highly selective school in Park Slope. The idea has opened a racial divide.
Minority parents and students are jeering education regulators who are expected, Wednesday, to approve a brand new, highly selective school in Park Slope. The elite Millennium Brooklyn High School is planned to open on the campus of Brooklyn's John Jay High School, where enrollment is overwhelmingly black and Latino.
Current students on the campus organized a protest last week where they carried signs criticizing the new school proposal as modern day segregation. They fear the Millennium school will admit only affluent students who might enjoy better facilities and a more rigorous curriculum.
The new high school would be modeled after the Millennium school in lower Manhattan, where two thirds of the students are white or Asian and admission standards require pupils be in the top 90th percentile of city academic performance.
City Council Member Brad Lander, D-Park Slope, says he sympathizes with minority students who resent the fact that their campus is getting new resources and attention only now that the most privileged students are likely to enroll.
"Now with a proposal for a new school comes the offer of resources and the offer of change, and of course I understand why that feels like part of this broader set of inequalities," said Lander.
Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Education, said the Millennium school is a practical response to Park Slope parents who are demanding a more competitive academic program closer to their homes. "Brooklyn families want more high quality choices, and the new Millennium Brooklyn will be an excellent new option for the community."
Zarin-Rosenfeld went on to insist the new school would not fracture the John Jay campus or separate poorer students from middle class students. "Hundreds of schools around our City share space and collaborate successfully, and we believe all of the schools on the John Jay Campus will come together to educate all of their students successfully."
Many Park Slope parents welcome the idea of a new, more competitive high school.
Allison Pennell, who writes a popular blog about the Park Slope neighborhood, says she's concerned other schools on the John Jay campus wouldn't be rigorous enough for her children. Currently, more than 30 percent of students enrolled on the John Jay campus fail to graduate.
"If you're concerned about your kids wellbeing, [the John Jay schools] don't have a great track record," said Pennell. "I think a lot of people feel the way I do. We want the best for our kids. We want the best for our school systems."
A board of regulators appointed by Mayor Bloomberg and the five borough presidents is slated to vote on the Millennium Brooklyn High School plan Wednesday evening.
If the proposal is approved the school would open in the Fall of 2011.