New York City's Best Public High Schools: A Parent's Guide
Some people don't have an optimistic view of the New York City Public School System, but author Clara Hemphill does.Though
it isn't a large number, 10 percent of the New York City public schools
are good schools, Hemphill said at the TC BookTalk about her guidebook,
New York City's Best Public High Schools: A Parent's Guide (TC Press).
This shows that good schools are possible. Public education is not a
lost cause and should not be privatized, she said. "Vouchers are a dead
end. I think they are impractical. They are not a useful way to get
education to the largest number of kids," said Hemphill who spoke at
one of the highly-rated schools, Fiorello H. Laguardia High School. "If
we do this, then subways and jury duty will be the only places that
different races and classes will mix in the city." Hemphill, who
is Director of the Public School Information Center at Advocates for
Children of New York, was a journalist for 20 years in New York and
working abroad as a staffer for the Associated Press, CBS News, New
York Newsday and as a freelance contributor for the New York Daily
News, The New York Times and New York Magazine. She and other staffers
at New York Newsday shared the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting.
Currently, she is using her skills as a reporter to build public
support for the institution of public education that has come under so
much attack.She stressed that there isn't one school that is
perfect, but there is a perfect school for your child. "Don't make your
children hostages to political idealism," she said. "Send them to the
school that's best for them." That's where Hemphill's book comes in.
"It's not just a guidebook like Zagat's, but it also helps urban
planning and political support for public education," she said.
In addition, her center launched a Web site based on her book
(www.Insideschools.org) that will not only review all 1,200 public
schools in the city but serves as a forum and news site about
education. "It's not just news as information, but news as advocacy for
social change," she said of her Web site and her book. "I am advocating
for decent public schools for every child."The time for public
education in New York City to change for the better is now, said
Hemphill, whose own children are currently enrolled in New York City
public schools. The schools weren't always in trouble, and they could
be good again. People are choosing to stay in the city rather than move
out to the suburbs because real estate prices are up and more women are
working. There are more immigrants who want to attend good schools to
get better jobs. And, there is a tremendous growth in the number of
African Americans with high income in the middle class. She is
also optimistic about the Mayor's new plans. The more people with
political clout who use the public schools, the more they will change.
"I am not sure his plans are detailed," she said, "but his general plan
is that someone has to be in charge and that he is staking his
reputation on it-which is good."
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