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Shut-out parents create co-op schools

In New York City, school is compulsory for students aged six and older. For younger students, the city provides some educational options, but every year thousands of children are turned away due to lack of space. The other alternative, private education, can be prohibitively expensive.

In response, some families in Brooklyn, New York, have begun creating their own schools. These co-operative pre-kindergarten programmes are run entirely by the participating parents, who must hire a teacher, find a location, provide supplies, and make group decisions about everything from curriculum to cleaning.

For parents, these schools provide more control over a child's education at a minimal expense.

But there are challenges: some forgo the background checks and extensive permitting needed to run a school, and put themselves at risk of being shut down. Even the schools running legally can face difficulties, not the least of which are personality conflicts that come with a co-operative experience.

Laura Trevelyan profiles one mother who turned the first floor of her home into a co-operative school.

  • 04 Apr 2012