Property Grunt

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Yesterday I got a call from a family member who gave me the most insane news. According to Us News and World report Scarsdale High School is now ranked #92. While Yonkers High School is #37.

My past entries on Scarsdale dealt with the desperate brokers shilling gas and the looming foreclosures plaguing this town, which shows that even an area this prestigious is just as vulnerable to market forces like the rest of the country. But this is bat s**t crazy! When you say Scarsdale the two things that usually come to mind is rich people and an excellent school system.

So how the hell does a town synonymous with the Ivy League get its ass handed to them by a town that synonymous with horse racing?

It is because Scarsdale discarded the Advanced Placement courses and implement their own curriculum called the Advanced Topics.

Officials said the new high-level courses would place a greater emphasis on inquiry than exists in Advanced Placement classes, which can pile on the facts to produce high scores on the A.P. tests that students take in May.

According to the article there was some concern regarding the new curriculum

But the plan has been a source of considerable anxiety in some quarters. Jill Rosell resigned as president of the Scarsdale Council of Parent-Teacher Associations last month to campaign against the move. Her newly formed group, the Scarsdale Committee to Maintain Advanced Placement, started a Web site and an online petition denouncing the plan. And opponents have become a vocal presence at public meetings.

“There are a lot of people out there who are not in support of this,” Karen Kasner, a member of the committee, said at the school board meeting.

Ms. Rosell acknowledged that the Advanced Topics courses might examine certain themes in greater depth than A.P. classes. But she said that the breadth of A.P. courses provided students with the foundation they needed for college-level critical thinking.

In addition, she said, Advanced Placement is a powerful brand. And detaching Scarsdale High students from that brand, she said, would put them at a disadvantage in the college admissions process.

Ms. Rosell noted that a survey of college admissions officers conducted by the Scarsdale High School counseling office last spring found some reservations about deviating from the tried and true.

It appears that she was right.

So how did Yonkers come from behind and beat the pants off of some highly educated rich people? Two words International Baccalaureate.

Yonkers was hemorrhaging gifted students at an alarming rate since parents were sending the off to private school so in 1999 they decided to get their act together by aligning themselves with the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme.

''Last year the school board found that they were losing its gifted population after eighth and ninth grades,'' he said. ''Parents were opting for private school. To fill that void they wanted to find a program that would link a student right after the elementary through 12th grade.''

Myrna Tortorello, assistant principal and coordinator of the International Baccalaureate programs at Burroughs, said that the curriculum is philosophically structured around five areas of interaction: expansive approaches to learning, thinking and studying; healthy living; respect for the environment; community service, and homo faber, or ''man, the maker'' in Latin, which fosters appreciation of humanity's historical innovations.

''In other countries students prepare for college really in those last two years of high school,'' Ms. Tortorello said, explaining why the Baccalaureate Organization introduced the Middle Years program in 1992. ''The diploma program is such a rich, rigorous program that the International Baccalaureate Organization realized that the preparation for that needed a more enriched program in grades 6 through 10.''

The following link is the catalog for the school.

Some very smart people put a lot of effort in creating these hardcore classes that allow students to grow and excel. Unlike Scarsdale, Yonkers hooked up with an established educational entity who knew what they were doing instead of pulling a Scarsdale and trying to reinvent the wheel.

There is no way in hell Scarsdale can compete with that. And by dropping the APs it hasn’t really helped their cause.

Until Scarsdale gets their s**t together, I would not even recommend moving there. With their school system trailing so badly, it does not justify the exorbitant amount of money one pays for a home and in property taxes.. As the saying goes in real estate in the burbs its location, location, school system. And Scarsdale messed up the last part of the formula.

Mind you, Yonkers is not exactly peaches and cream. Put Yonkers in Google news and all sort of f**ked up shit comes up. One things is for sure is that they are not stupid.

Once this news hits Brewster Road my predictions are the following.

1. The AT curriculum will be maintained out of hubris. The last thing the players behind this program want to admit is that they failed arguing that the AT program is still in the embryonic stages and needs to be developed further, of course at the cost of students being used as guinea pigs. Change will only occur once those college rejection letters start piling in and angry parents start laying the smackdown on the school board. Unfortunately, that will be a long time coming.

2. The Scarsdale Alternative School’s wait list is not going to end anytime soon because it has already established itself as a unique brand of constructive education, which many in the collegiate world recognize. So it presents an opportunity for students to be able to standout in a crowd during college application season even with the AT program pretty much tanking.

3. Scarsdale high school teachers, particularly the ones that are part of the AT program are going to be under the gun, correction, under a f**king Howitzer. to pull a hat trick to produce higher test scores. Parents and students are going to be bitching and moaning about the AT disaster and instead of taking responsibility for their own actions they will blame the teachers. Scarsdale is also non-union school district, which means unless you have tenure you could be kicked off the island any time. I would not be surprised to see Scarsdale teachers lured away to a union district in order to get away from the pressure and aggravation in exchange for job security.

4. Guidance Counselors will also be raising their intake of valium and scotch due the the hordes of angry parents demanding why their precious yet average bundles of joy did not get into Harvard. Every time these guidance counselors try to push their students for colleges for acceptance they are going to be constantly d**k slapped with the number 92 and with the competition from other school districts being so fierce, particularly ones that subscribe to the AP curriculum, it is will just make their jobs a helluva lot harder.

I can imagine in the near future a school board meeting will turn into a scene from Glengarry Glen Ross with teachers and guidance counselors being screamed at raise test scores and send more kids to the Ivy Leagues.