Ok, so it costs roughly $30,000 a year to go to school here, but if you have the money it’s probably worth it: one of Brooklyn’s premier private schools, founded in 1867 by Quakers, BFS upholds that faith’s progressive principles, like in its real commitment to diversity in the staff and student body. There’s an IB program and a strong emphasis on the arts and on small class sizes, with 700 preschool through 12th-grade students served by more than 100 faculty members—a 7:1 ratio! The rate of graduates who continue to college is 100 percent, according to the school’s website. But “what makes the school great is the faculty and staff’s commitment to the children in their care,” one faculty member tells us. “Myself aside, I am being sincere!”
Best Middle School for New Immigrants
Tipped off to us as a “great public school” by a local teacher, Sunset Park Prep Academy serves mostly the children of new, overwhelmingly Latino immigrants, and is known not just for its solid academics but for the above-and-beyond approach of its polyglot staff. “Teachers even escort children to the exam at Stuyvestant High School or the audition at LaGuardia,” reports insideschools.org, “easing parents’ fears about children going to Manhattan.”
Best Charter School
Ugh, charter schools, we know, but if we had to pick one it would probably be this East Flatbush middle school, part of non-profit organization Uncommon Schools’ well-regarded network. Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, called Kings Collegiate “amazing” during a visit last year, telling the students that they were “setting an example for the entire country” with their gains in academic achievement.
Best Middle School for Budding Public Artists
In 2006, students and two teachers at William McKinley Intermediate School in Dyker Heights started a mural project in one corner of a hallway near the third-floor library. The students asked to keep working on it the following year and in all the years after that, so that it now covers the walls and doors of two whole floors—long enough to cover the sidewalk in front of the school twice. Kids come in before classes to work on it. Kids come in on the weekends to work on it. “I could buy more books, more computers,” the principal told the Times, “but the money is better spent this way.”
Worst (or Best?) New High School
There are quality public schools in Park Slope. But the neighborhood’s three high schools, housed in John Jay, ain’t them. The decision to add a fourth school, Millennium 2, to the building this fall, though, outraged many in the community. As one local teacher explained, it brought two cultures into conflict: the “middle- and upper-class Slopers who want a neighborhood high school but refuse to send their children to the existing high schools because they are underfunded and neglected,” and the less-privileged parents of students who don’t have much other choice. Large protests ensued, at which demonstrators demanded the DOE fund the existing schools fully and fairly—which, in turn, could make them more appealing to upper-class parents—instead of using that money to build a new one that would effectively segregate the well-off white population and do little for the already neglected minority students.
Best High School for Disabled Students
At Midwood’s Edward R. Murrow High School, the sizable population of students with disabilities—roughly one-eighth of total enrollment—isn’t isolated. “They include them in spite of physical, emotional or other disabilities,” one department of education employee told us. “They don’t look at the disabilities of students.” The school serves students with sight or hearing impairments, and is wheelchair accessible. “On-site physical and occupational therapy and adaptive physical education help meet the needs of physically challenged students,” according to insideschools.org, including, we hear, helping those with mobility challenges get in and out of classrooms.
Best High School for Would-be Baseballers
Thirteen major leaguers came out of this school—more than any other in Brooklyn—including John Franco and Sandy Koufax. A dozen others made it to farm and college leagues. No Lafayette alum has made it to the show since 1988, when shortstop Kevin Baez got drafted to the Mets, and the school itself was closed in 2010 because it performed so poorly academically. But it was replaced by five smaller schools that share the building, one of which is called the High School of Sports Management. “Through sports and sports-related fields, such as marketing, management, law, medicine, journalism and broadcasting,” its website says, “HSSM will provide students with experiential learning opportunities.” And surely carry on Lafayette’s proud sports tradition.
Best All-Around High School
One school that came up again and again in our conversations with local education professionals was Brooklyn Technical High School, one of the borough’s two specialized high schools, which require a special entrance exam. (You could think of it as “Brooklyn’s Stuyvestant.”) But admission to the Fort Greene school grants you access to possibly the best school in the borough. It boasts “the best learning environment I have ever seen,” one city-schools teacher told us, including two gyms, a library with a fireplace, a football field, a robotics team, an aeronautics lab with a wind-tunnel, an 18,000-watt radio transmitter on the roof, and the second-largest auditorium in the city after Radio City Music Hall. “I do not know how it could be any better,” said Bob Barone, an alum who’s now associate dean at St. John’s University.
Best High School If You Want to Be a Famous Person
One debatable way to measure a school’s success is to look at the caliber of its alumni. Several Brooklyn high schools sport impressive lists. Graduates of Madison include Ruth Bader Ginsburg and two serving senators; Erasmus once taught Mae West, Barbara Streisand and Bobby Fisher. But the winner in our estimation is Coney Island’s Abraham Lincoln, whose alumni include Arthur Miller, Joseph Heller, Harvey Keitel, Mel Brooks, Leona Helmsley, Lou Gossett Jr., Buddy Rich, Neil Sedaka, Ken Auletta, and the guys who sang “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”!
Best High School if You Want to be a Famous Person with “Cred”
Still, most of those celebs are from generations past. The only local high school to produce a notable crop of hip, fairly contemporary celebrities is Murrow—they taught Basquiat, Darren Aronofsky, Adam Yauch and Marisa Tomei. Must be those highly rated music and theater programs.