Open Thread Wednesday 11/7/07


The original! Open Thread Wednesday.  Talk about anything you like including these events from the past week:

Bus shelter fixed, what about those injured by the car crash? 

Who did you vote for

Where do you hang out in the Heights

Yankee Fair Saturday

Secrets of Love Lane revealed 

… and whatever else is on your mind… 

BHB Photo Club pic by fkuffel via Flickr

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  • anon

    Well, I guess now everyone knows that our PS 8 scored an embarassing “C” in the City’s report card for schools. That fact is in the lead paragraph of todays article in the NY Times. However one wishes to dismiss the grading as flawed or complicated or whatever, it is still not a good thing. Plenty of other schools got B’s and A’s.
    I think that people in the Heights and DUMBO will think twice and then think again about sending their kids to PS8. A shame.
    Why can’t PS 8 be equal to the public schools in Park Slope?
    There are just as many tony private schools in the Slope that “drain off” kids from the most affluent families (this is always given as an excuse for PS 8’s poor performance). I don’t want to hear any more excuses from PS 8 or from the BHA or from the teachers and principal. I want them to really get their act together and live up to the quality of the neighborhoods that they serve.

  • nabeguy

    Anon, do you have a child at PS 8? For that matter do you have a child? Do you know how the grading was done and on what it was based? The fact that a school earned an A only indicates that it showed an improvement from last year, not necessarily that it’s a top-ranked school. Do your research before you start trashing a school that has made a miraculous turn-arouund in the last 4 years, and where my daughter is thriving and receiving a much better education than she did for $13K a year at Plymouth Church School.

  • anon

    Sorry I am not smart enough to understabd that a “C” is better than an “A”. Tell that to somebody more gullible.
    If the principal can’t make his school perform, then folks like you and others should stop making excuses for him. This is not a laid-back, low-ambition ssort of neighborhood if you have not noticed.

  • Claude Scales

    Before you condemn the teachers and staff of PS 8 for the school’s “grade,” I think you should look into the methodology behind the grade and the reason or reasons for PS 8’s receiving a “C.” I’m not familiar with the facts concerning that myself, but I know that by far the most important factor in determining a “grade” is improvement over the past year on statewide standardized tests. I’ve read that PS 8 enjoyed considerable improvement on such scores over a period of several years, and it may be that the school simply “plateaued” during the year used to determine the grade (presumably the 2006-07 school year).

    My daughter attends what I know to be (it’s her third year there) a first-rate public middle school, and that school received a “D.” I think that the Board of Education’s methodology for “grading” schools is seriously flawed, and that it was a grievous mistake to release these “grades” to the public with great fanfare. I think they are misleading, and will result in many parents making bad decisions.

  • Al Shanker

    The whole concept of grading schools is stupid and pseudo-scientific. No methodology would be good methodology. Further, standardized tests are a terrible measure of school performance, and the whole system is designed to make even good schools like P.S. 8 fail, and thereby destroy the public school system — at least on the federal level, a la NCLB.

    As the late Justice Potter Stewart said of obscenity, “I know it when I see it.” The same is true of good schools.

  • Claude Scales

    As an addendum to my comment above, since I hadn’t seen the exchange between nabeguy and “anon” before I posted it, let me say this to “anon.” Sure, there’s a difference between an “A” and a “C,” but to understand what the difference is, you need to know what factors went into determining those letter grades, how they were weighted and applied, and so forth. To judge a school based on an arbitrary system created by a bunch of heads-up-their-arses bureaucrats is what I’d call real gullibility. To judge a school, visit it. Look around. Talk to the teachers, the administrators, the students. Talk to the parents.
    Get a sense of whether there’s real excitement about learning going on there. Don’t let distant “experts” make your decision for you.

    I’m afraid the Board of Education has embarked on a course that is going to do nothing but encourage teaching to the tests, and stifle any creativity or excitement in the school system.

  • T.K. Small

    Reluctantly I think that grading of the schools is overall a step in the right direction. For decades New York City public schools have not done a very good job. Any activity that focuses attention on this issue is a positive step. Admittedly the grading of the schools may tend to promote “teaching to the test” but, that is better than kids that cannot read.

    A close relative of mine is an estimator for one of the better moving companies. The most common reason that people are moving out of NYC are the poor schools. Unless one is earning an investment banker salary, you cannot afford private school.

    With respect to P.S. 8 in particular, I could not go there because it was not wheelchair accessible. However, my sister went there in the mid/late 70s. During that time it was considered barely okay. After that, the school went downhill dramatically for the next 20 something years. Ultimately my sister became a teacher and actually did some substitute work at PS 8. I think I recall something about a chair being thrown at her. Although I am sure that the school has gotten better, until there is a substantial track record of a commitment to excellence, PS 8 is still a work in progress.

  • Resident

    Anyone know what’s going on at Oven? I heard the owner left, they have changed their pizza crust to the thick, doughy sort, and they are getting rid of a significant portion of their wine cellar.

  • Homer Fink

    Res – part of what you’re saying is true. Stay tuned.

  • ABC

    to reply to the first poster: 321 got a B. Not an A. And there is a difference btw PS 8 and 321 and it’s not the “brain drain” that you mention. It is the fact that we have a large, poorly managed housing project in our district. Many of these kids do not have the support of parents and do not come to school as prepared as the 321 kids. It makes the teacher’s job much more challenging. It’s why I support these grades and think they will get more important as the fold in 5 years of data as planned. It’s not a guide for parents but a tool to evaluate teachers and admininstrators.

  • Claude Scales

    T.K. – I hear you, and share your concern about improving NYC schools. I have more to say on this, but as Qfwfq has created a separate post for this issue, I’m going to put my further comments there.

  • anon

    Everybody is making excuses for PS 8.
    60% of all public schools got A’s or B’s.
    If the community does not expect more
    from its school then no wonder we have a
    mediocre “C-grade” school.
    Everybody is so defensive instead of
    facing the facts that the school fared poorly and
    that improvement is not only possible, but I would say

  • nabeguy

    Anon, I think that every parent of a child at PS 8 would agree with me when I say that I don’t have to make excuses for the school, it’s fine just the way it is. Again, I’ll say to you that unless you understand the scoring criteria of how schools were graded (like the fact that PS 8 was compared to a school in Chinatown), you shouldn’t just read the book by it’s cover.

  • bklyn20

    Please — PS 321 has been successful and parent-supported
    fro decades! It’s not right to compare the two, and they only got a B, right?

    Some things (mainly not considered in the Report Card) could be better — art (although Guggenheim etc, does great supplementation), science (need more), and possibly we should have a music program for grades 3-5 with instruments, not just Chorus. Still, it’s a REMARKABLE TURNAROUND in 3 or 4 years!!! It can still get better, but parents who actually send their kids there, and could find other alternatives, are generally very satisfied. The good thing about the C — PS 8 is in danger of overcrowding. Maybe this will keep class sizes down. Harumph!

  • anon

    As a PS 8 parent, I think the report card seriously misrepresents this fine neighborhood school. Seth Phillips, the principal, has his sights firmly fixed on providing the best education possible for all the kids who go there. The population is mixed: kids from the projects and kids whose parents own brownstones. What the report card doesn’t communicate is the success the school has had in NOT teaching to the test, with teachers who create their own curricula in various areas to supplement the undemanding DOE basic curriculum. The kids get daily enrichment–dance, music, art, library visits, and more–and in my son’s 4 years at the school, he’s had terrific and gifted teachers whose own intellectual curiousity sets a wonderful example for the students.

    I shudder to think what the DOE is up to with its costly and flawed assessment methods, but in 4 years I have watched PS 8 improve enormously, and I recommend it without reservation. But you have to tour the school to see what it’s about.

  • EJ

    BHB hate spewing over on Chowhound this morning…

  • Jen

    I wouldn’t exactly classify that as “hate spewing”. No one can dispute that there have been some suspicious posts about Oven on this board.

  • Heights97

    Bring on the hate spewing!