NIBMYism Is A Growing Problem For Our Education System
May 16, 2012 1 Comment
NIMBYism, the brand of selfishness most famous for ruining urban development, is now setting its sights on education reform. I touched on it a bit in this post, but the basic problem is that closing down a bad school entails suffering through a one-time, present-day cost (the struggle inherent in a student changing schools) in order to reap a much larger future benefit (having a good school in place of a failing school). NIMBYism arises because the cost falls almost entirely on the families currently enrolled in the closing school, while the benefits go to the future families enrolled in a future school. Not surprisingly, the current parents are not happy about paying the cost. They’re not against closing bad schools, they’re just against closing their bad school.
A second form of NIMBYism is emerging with regard to charter school openings, particularly in co-location disputes in New York City. Once again, the gist is that it’s ok to open charter schools, it’s just not ok to open charter schools here. For example, check out the perverse NIMBYish response of one parent association president to a new Brooklyn charter school for transfer students.
Prospect Heights parents are worried that a plan to place a charter school for troubled teens in their kids’ school will make the Willoughby St. building dangerous.
Starting next year, plans call for the new charter school to serve just over 100 high school students who have been kicked out or have failed out of their previous schools.
“Some of these kids that come in could be gang members,” said Sheila LeTang, parents association president of Knowledge and Power Academy.
Both schools will share the first floor — too close for comfort, says LeTang.
“They are going to be interacting with children and we don’t know who these kids are or what they’ve done,” she said.
First of all, this is a school we’re talking about. One of the most highly regulated, highly policed (metaphorically) environments around. Second, I’m not quite sure what phobia or -ism she’s engaging in, but it’s definitely a bad one. There might be gang members? Guess what SheiLa, there might be gang members at your kids’ school. You don’t know who they are? Their parents don’t know who your kids are either. Maybe they should be worried about your kids assaulting their kids.
I get it. Sheila LeTang is concerned about her children. But she does not get to personally approve every person her kids might come into contact with. “Because the kids at that school might be bad” is not a valid reason to stop the city from opening a new school for its most at-risk students. Where else should the school go? If she can provide a reason the school should be somewhere else that doesn’t include “I don’t want it near my children,” I’d be willing to consider her objections. If she can’t, then she should stop creating a fuss and sacrifice a small amount of peace of mind for the city, state, country and basically everybody else in the world who doesn’t spend all day in her kids’ school building.