End overcrowding

Dear Editor,
As a graduate of Forest Hills High School (Class of 1957), I was shocked to learn that 4,000 students now attend my alma mater. That’s nearly four times the number when I went there, and many of them live far from Forest Hills.
Parents complain that students don’t have enough room for the social distancing required by COVID-19 protocols.
The reason for overcrowding at FHHS and other high schools is a change in admission policy that occurred under former mayor Mike Bloomberg. Students were enrolled in the high school closest to their home for more than a century.
That changed in 2004, when the Department of Education introduced a school choice program requiring all 8th graders to submit a list of 12 high schools they
wish to attend, no matter where they lived.
The DOE would match student preferences with each school’s attendance capacity. The intent was noble, but the results are a nightmare.
Schools with a high rate of college admissions, like FHHS, are flooded with students, while under-performing schools lose students and funding, which is based on enrollment. Thus they have fewer resources to improve.
The DOE must restore the zone-based system of high school enrollment except for the eight specialized high schools that require a rigorous admissions test.
This will create a fairer balance of enrollment at all high schools and a better education for all of our city’s students.
Richard Reif
Kew Gardens Hills

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