March 15, 2017

Parent With Two Children at PCS, One at PPS Takes Issue With Letters in March 8 Mailbox

To the Editor:

In the March 8 issue of Town Topics, three anti-PCS letters were published. I’d like to respond to each letter.

Cara Carpenito asked PCS parents to “examine their conscience [sic].” When the author’s fundamental assumption is that the parents of 348 children (plus waitlist) are bad people, how does a community even begin to discuss collaboration? Would the author say that to our faces at a sports competition, piano recital, etc.? As I have two children at PCS and one at PPS, does that make me merely two-thirds evil?

Further to Ms. Carpenito’s letter, PCS’s “segregation,” particularly of African American students, was not a statistical issue until 2009-2010, when two notable things happened: 1) the financial crisis, which may have led to many private school children returning to public and entering the PCS lottery, and 2) the formation of the de facto anti-charter advocacy group Save Our Schools-N.J., (“SOS-NJ, co-founded by Julia Sass Rubin, who has done work on PPS’s behalf against PCS, outgoing BoE President Andrea Spalla, and Mayor Liz Lempert).

As for Ms. Weir’s assertion that charters are required to mirror the sending district’s population; they actually must attempt to do so. PCS does a large amount of outreach to this end, and is planning more. With the weighted lottery and sibling preference (lottery and sibling preference, incidentally, are also used by PPS’s dual-language immersion program) working in concert, I expect PCS to succeed in short order — if only special interest groups stop using scare tactics and trust parents to decide based on schools’ offerings, not scurrilous moral allegations.

Last, Professor Rubin’s letter. Space is limited, so I’ll focus on these facts: 1) She cited Bruce Baker as a supporting voice, but one should note that Bruce Baker supplied the vanished slide from her 12/13/16 presentation to the BoE — invited by above-mentioned Andrea Spalla — that stated PCS ranked 622nd in the state (hard to believe even if anti-PCS), and 2) that while 22 percent of kids at JWMS did opt out of PARCC, of those who did take it, 37 percent did indeed fail, and that’s not nothing.

I know that I am far from the only parent at PCS who moved to Princeton for PPS, but there my kids are at PCS. Perhaps if PPS took some steps to understand the reasons each family left PPS after having tried it (survey?), PPS might improve for all kids. If PPS did this instead of engaging in lawfare, nobody would want to go to PCS, and it would die. As it is, absent that level of interest, engagement, and self-reflection by PPS, I am glad that more district families will have the same choice ours did.

Liz Winslow

Dodds Lane