LETTER: That’s why we are Greenwichites

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor:
Greenwich has no less than nine schools that are considered “destination schools.” These schools draw students from all over town as well as throughout Fairfield County, Westchester County, Bronx, Manhattan, even New Jersey.
For many of these schools, more than 70% of their student body comes from as far away as 20-35 miles. Why? Because these schools are a fit for these families, this is where their children thrive.
I know a four-year-old that leaves her house at 6:30 a.m. to go to one of these destination schools in Greenwich. She is energetic, engaged and stays for this school’s dynamic afterschool programs. She lives 27 miles away from her elementary school.
Greenwich’s public school teachers are able to send their children to our schools as non-residents. They just fill out a form and the Superintendent lets them know if their first and second choice can be accommodated. They “choose” the best of the best schools in Greenwich: ISD, North Mianus, Riverside, North Street. In fact, so many of them choose North Mianus, that this school is overcrowded.
Non-resident teachers using our public schools love school choice. It allows them to live in nice homes in Silvermine and drive two new cars and get their kids into the 24th and 8th best elementary school in the state of Connecticut. Meanwhile the schools in their neighborhood rank 365th in CT.
But, for Greenwich’s children who qualify for free or reduced lunch there is no choice. Even though they are the ones who need it most.
You would think…but, of course, our public schools want to empower our citizens with this option! After all, public schools stand FOR the public, democracy, fairness, equal opportunity…
But, sadly, when it comes to the public school system in Greenwich it has chosen to give the less fortunate in our town less power, fewer choices, indeed, no option besides the lower performing schools in town.
Then they (the BOE) hire consultants whom they pay $200,000 dollars and tell us helping these kids out “would cost too much in busing,” or “these parents don’t want school choice” or “driving six miles across town will tire the kids out.”
Arrogant? Racist? Self-Serving? You decide.
Thousands and thousands of parents send their children to schools in our neighborhood who live in cities and counties an hour away. And, yet, the parents of children in our public elementary schools in which less than 50% are proficient in reading and only 25% are proficient in math have no choice.
What does the BOE do when I start to point this out to them, at first one-on-one, as a colleague in the field of education?
They shut down. Then they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a ramped up “marketing campaign” in which their Head of Communications talks about making a fancier brochure to sell folks on Greenwich’s non-magnetic “magnet schools.”
I’ll save the BOE another $150K and tell them the truth: Modern day parents aren’t okay with anti-choice policies.
Today, you can hear the sound of a tumbleweed rolling by when you ask how many BOE non-residents’ children attend Hamilton Avenue School–the answer: zero.
School choice was good enough for Bob DeAngelo’s family, the past head of the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, the now head of the YMCA of Greenwich. That is partly why he is a success today. That, and having a family willing to sacrifice for its children and not buy-into Greenwich’s public school segregation mandate. One has to call it a “mandate,” because at this point, it really has become a de-facto policy.
Spending 150 million dollars of the tax-payers’ money and telling parents there is no school choice in Greenwich is absurd. It’s, as if, employees of the BOE don’t even know what’s going on in the very town they are being paid by.
It won’t be long before Greenwich Public Schools will no longer be segregated. Our families are too clever, too hard working and too savvy to put up with this.
That’s why we are Greenwichites.
Jodi Weisz

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