Opinion
School & District Management Opinion

In New York City, Math is Hard

By Eduwonkette — January 17, 2008 1 min read

Test your skills with this word problem:

A comprehensive high school in New York City has an enrollment of 900 9th graders. The NYC Department of Education decides to close the school and replace it with 5 new small schools, each of which will enroll 108 9th graders. How many 9th graders are left over?

Extra credit, Part I: Imagine that the NYC Dept of Ed closes 2 comprehensive schools in one year with enrollments identical to those above. Now how many 9th graders are left over?

Extra credit, Part II: Where will the displaced kids go to school?

If you’ve got your noggin on, you know that the answer is 360 kids, and that if we close two schools, we now have 720 displaced kids who need a place to go to 9th grade. This is, in part, the subject of Sam Freedman’s NYT column yesterday. His column provides a hint on Extra Credit, Part II:

More broadly, the problem is the outcome of Department of Education decisions to open scores of small, niched schools in the area, close large ones perceived as academic failures and leave the excess students to land in traditional schools like Richmond Hill that, while relatively successful academically, were often overcrowded to begin with. In this version of education reform, it is never hard to tell the winners from the losers.

I know what you’re thinking - doesn’t anyone have a calculator? The NYC Department of Ed seems to have forgotten that matter is neither created nor destroyed in a chemical reaction - and the kids don’t disappear, either.

Update: For more on high school reorganization hiccups, see the Gotham Gazette’s Wonkster and this article in the Village Voice.

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