Two weeks ago, a list of the best public school districts in the U.S. was published. Normally I don’t put much faith in these subjective top-10’s, but when I saw who was ranked #1, I knew they got it right. No, it wasn’t LIC/PS78, …yet, but we’ll get to that. Instead, it was Edgemont, a small school district in southern Westchester. As it turns out, the Editor of this rag grew up in Edgemont.
While a lot of people may focus on academics as the reason for its top ranking, I can tell you as an insider and as anyone who grew up in Edgemont will confirm, this is just one piece of the winning formula. Now I’d be the first to say that I had some outstanding teachers, whose influence is still imbedded in me today. But there were also a handful of clunkers, just like in any great school district.
Setting academics aside (for the time being let’s just call it the fixed variable. Though some may view it as immovable), there are two other equally important pieces of the puzzle: sense of community and extracurricular. In LIC the latter is sorely lacking. The most glaring omission is youth sports. After the pre-k level there is nothing in this community, zilch. Or, since we’re talking about schools, youth sports gets a big red F in LIC.
Even within the elementary school, non-academic activities are sub-par, and pale in comparison to great school districts. This is largely due to lack of funding1 and lack of space. Thus the need for organized after-school and weekend activities is that much more urgent.
Edgemont has, and had, Father’s League. Seasonal leagues in baseball, basketball, football, and soccer for grades 4-8, and clinics for younger grades. In the past, solely boys participated, now there are separate groups for boys and girls2. These are all coached by the fathers of the kids, with organizational assistance from the town. Also offered are after-school arts and music classes, usually taught by teachers. Of greatest significance, all these activities utilized the classrooms and gyms of the public schools themselves. Minimizing travel time and helping to keep the cost of the programs down significantly.
Nevertheless, there are two characteristics of Long Island City that Edgemont, and all suburbs lack: density and proximity. In the suburbs it was difficult to round up more than half a dozen kids at any one time. In LIC tons of kids live in a quarter-mile radius. In fact, I even hear that stickball is coming back to this neighborhood. Nah, no need for the streets, the courts and fields are right in our midst. As for Manhattan, the spontaneity factor is something that LIC has, and it does not. Kids aren’t really hanging out at the park by themselves in Manhattan.
The other huge advantage that LIC has is community. In many respects it is even better than Edgemont’s. Why? Because there’s an intangible benefit derived from constantly running into your neighbors on the street. A uniqueness that isn’t found anywhere else in the city, and maybe country.
Unfortunately, the community is also a little apathetic. People recognize the student deficiencies, but no one is taking the reins and actually doing anything about them. Sure, unlike the top-10, LIC has a lot of families with two working parents, but we also have much, much better commutes.
It’s resolution time parents, your kids aren’t getting any younger. In 2015 you need to take action3, if you want your children going to the school topping the list below by 2020.
The 10 Best Public School Districts in the U.S. – it’s in your hands as to whether LIC becomes the best school district in the nation. Yes, maybe even the high school
Long Island’s Other Jewish Ramen Savant, Tells How Mu Ramen Came to Be – as we await Mu’s imminent opening, here’s a little teaser
Urban Market Debuts LIC Location – I can’t help but think of Mayor Quimby at these ribbon-cuttings
New 108th Precinct Head Plans Open Houses – ooh, hopefully there’ll be snacks
Air Rights for Affordable Housing – but what do the rest of us get?
With New Loan, TF Cornerstone Has Taken $2 billion in Cash Out of Their Current Center Boulevard Properties – best of all, they retain all the upside going forward, and this is before they build the next phase of Hunters Point South
LIC Resi Parcel Seeks Record $315 a Foot – owned by Plaxall and now a taxi stand on Jackson two lots south of 5Pointz, so it’s not even on the water!
5Pointz Memorial on First Anniversary of Whitewashing – wow, where did the year go?
We Don’t Need More Rats – a 17-minute video about the 5Pointz controversy