The New York Times marks the launch today of its new SchoolBook section, a partnership with WNYC, with a look at how the school system is broken, but in one particularly harmless way. The city's 1,700 school identifiers are not, despite the P.S. X numbering system, very organized at all, with duplicates and exceptions spanning every borough:
There are actually four P.S. 1’s in New York City: That first school, established in 1806 and later named for Alfred E. Smith (Manhattan); the Courtlandt School (the Bronx); the Bergen (Brooklyn); and Tottenville (Staten Island). Plus, of course, the P.S. 1 in Long Island City, Queens, which now houses a contemporary-art museum. There are also three P.S. 2’s, three P.S. 3’s and four P.S. 4’s.
The Education Department has kept up the practice long after it stopped being an effective ordering tool, even though other large cities like Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Washington stick with names. New York's stubbornness and nostalgia is typical: If you want your kid to grow up like everyone else, feel free to move.