It's easy (and tempting too, if you're a mayoral candidate) to talk about
what's wrong with New York's public schools. What you hear a lot less about
is what's right. Especially when it comes to high schools. Everyone
knows about the crown jewels of our sprawling and uneven system Stuyvesant,
Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, LaGuardia but too many parents haven't
heard of the newer success stories like the Goldstein High School for the
Sciences in Brooklyn, the Young Women's Leadership School in Spanish Harlem,
or the Lab School for Collaborative Studies in Chelsea. And because students
can apply to high schools all over the city, it's important to check out
what's available outside your home district.
| Popular science:
Students in the DaVinci program at Benjamin Cardozo High School.
(Photo by Magdalena Caris)
With the November 15 deadline to apply for next year rapidly approaching,
we asked Clara Hemphill, author of New York City's Best Public High
Schools: A Parents' Guide (just published by Teachers College Press),
to look past Stuyvesant and its three well-known rivals, and find us the
other best high schools in the city.
Over the past several years, Hemphill and her colleagues at the nonprofit
Advocates for Children in Manhattan have visited scores of public high schools
and interviewed hundreds of students, teachers, and parents. What they found
was encouraging: Through skillful leadership and energetic fund-raising,
certain schools have managed to mitigate the endemic woes of so many other
city schools peeling paint, antique facilities, oversize classes,
overwhelmed teachers to offer children real opportunities to excel.
Most are small and experimental in their approach to learning; some are
only a few years old. What they have in common is a group of passionate
educators, diverse students, and engaged parents. What follows, then, are
19 of the best and most promising high schools in the system.
The freedom to choose any school in the city comes at a cost. The byzantine
application process can be amazingly off-putting. There is one application
for all schools, due by November 15 (a week later than usual because of
the World Trade Center attack), but each school has a different follow-up
procedure. Therefore, the most important decision a student can make is
which school he or she puts as first choice. For more information about
the process, more details about these schools, and descriptions of 24 other
high-performing schools, consult Hemphill's book. For applications and information
about this year's annual high-school fair, which has been rescheduled for
October 27 and 28, visit or call the Office of High School Admissions, 22
East 28th Street, ninth floor (917-256-4300) and check the Board of Education's
online school directory at www.nycenet.edu/hs_directory.