The Lady Generals (MacArthur HS) varsity soccer team were in the midst of their pre-season training last Tuesday, when a young mother, her children in tow, stopped to watch them practice. This mother, following several minutes of amiable conversation with team members concerning the quality of education in Levittown schools, asked them the proverbial $64,000 question, "Are conditions in Levittown schools as bad as I've heard?" she inquired.
This summer we took our youngest daughter, a MacArthur senior, on a tour of a number of metropolitan and upstate area college campuses. It's been eight years since we last visited several of these campuses and very little has changed, in my opinion, regarding their perception of Levittown schools. "Where are you folks from?" is generally the icebreaker used by admission directors to gauge the academic preparation of potential students. "Long Island," we usually reply. "Where about?" they probe. "Wantagh," we reply. "Wonderful!" or words to that effect, they exclaim, as they recite (from memory) a litany of Wantagh School District achievements or the number of Wantagh HS alumni on campus. "But," I finally interject, "We live within the boundaries serviced by the Levittown School District." Suddenly, the blood drains from their face and it appears as though I've stabbed them in the heart with a jagged icicle! Upon gaining their composure, the more astute directors inevitably ask the next loaded question, "Which high school?" Upon hearing MacArthur HS they appear to be somewhat relieved. However, a definite chill remains in the air.
Walk into any Multiple Listing Service (MLS) realtor's office, or visit their website, and ask for a profile of the Levittown schools along with those of several neighboring districts. You'd be shocked by the comparisons! Levittown schools, for example, have a 48 percentile ranking, in New York state, according to Neighborhood Data, a monthly service of iPlace Inc. iPlace Ranking is respected for its ability to collect the most accurate demographic information on some 61,000 communities throughout the United States. The Wantagh School District, by contrast, has a 78 percentile ranking; East Meadow (98 percentile); Massapequa (99 percentile); North Merrick (83 percentile); Seaford (85 percentile); Plainview-Old Bethpage (84 percentile); Farmingdale (66 percentile) and much maligned Island Trees (54 percentile).
Nearly all of these percentile ratings raise serious questions regarding the perception of quality education in Levittown schools.
It's ironic that the Levittown School Board, at its September meeting, addressed the need for greater public relations. These are the folks who recently proved by their ineptness that they couldn't build a parking space, for several buses, without raising the ire of the entire Gardiners Avenue community. It is the same school board which has already wasted over $100,000 of taxpayer monies, with nothing to show, on a useless public relations contract with Public Information Services, a Nassau County BOCES subsidiary. Chances are they already have another public relations firm, waiting in the wings, following delivery of their Ad Hoc Subcommittee report. It appears evident that the Levittown School Board is not part of the solution, it is the problem!
Oh, I nearly forgot! The Lady Generals, following their practice, were headed for the locker room when they spotted the young mother and her children leaving MacArthur High School. I'm told she didn't look happy.