Exclusive: Third-grader Grace Yang Carter could be attending one of the city's top public schools - if it weren't for her parents' raging divorce battle." name=storyDesc>
Grace Yang Carter (l. with mother) is caught between
parents Esther Yang and Edward Carter.
Yang wants Grace to attend competitive PS 6,
while Carter wants her to stay at failing Staten Island school.
Divorce battle keeps girl from top city school
By NANCIE L. KATZDAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Friday, September 7th 2007, 4:00 AM
Third-grader Grace Yang Carter could be attending one of the city's top public schools - if it weren't for her parents' raging divorce battle.
Grace's mother won the girl a spot at the upper East Side's highly regarded Public School 6 under the federal No Child Left Behind program.
But Grace's dad, who lives on Staten Island, has refused to move the girl from PS 16, a failing school there, saying the commute to Manhattan is too long.
Grace's mom, Esther Yang, is furious.
"This is the most coveted waiting-list school in the city," she said. "I don't have the money to live in that zip code. How can any caring parent deny her this opportunity? I don't get it!"
Grace, 8, lives with her dad, Edward Carter, on Staten Island half the week, and with her mom in Manhattan the rest of the time.
As part of a 2004 divorce decree, Carter was granted the final say on Grace's education.
He accused Yang of wrongly applying to PS 6, 40 blocks from her Tudor City apartment, in effect bumping his applications to three high-performing schools 10 minutes from his home.
"I did not think it is in Grace's best interest to be riding in a yellow bus nearly 15 miles on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, approximately 1-1/2 hours each way, to and from school every day," the father said. "She'd become a commuter at 8 years old. Scores are one thing. But she also thrives on the stability, consistency and warmth of attending school close to me."
Yang countered that she commutes 18 miles to take Grace from her Manhattan apartment back to the failing school on Fridays and Mondays.
"I will gladly pick up Grace from his home and drop her at [PS 6] every day and back, whatever it takes," she said.
Yang begged a five-judge Appellate Division panel earlier this week to overrule Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis, who refused to force the transfer.
Yang, a Chinese-American yoga instructor, said Grace scored in the 92nd percentile in elite private school tests, and doesn't want her daughter at a school branded "in need of improvement" by the state.
Yang also charged Grace "got pushed down the stairs by the boys" at PS 16 in St. George. "Most of Grace's friends transfer out of that school to Manhattan," the mom said.
But Carter argued Grace would lose out on after-school play dates and activities like art lab at Snug Harbor along with "dance class, swim class, time with me at the park, zoo, library."
"She would miss time socializing with her classmates," he said. "All that would end. She'd be sitting on a bus."
Grace is enrolled in an accelerated dual Spanish-English language program, he said, and scored well on standardized tests at PS 16.
Grace was to begin class Tuesday at PS 6, where 90% of students test at or above grade level. But Carter reenrolled her at PS 16, calling it "the best of options available." Only half the students at PS 16 score at grade level and 86% qualify for free lunch.
He said he is working with the Education Department to move her to one of his school choices.
Whiz kid caught in parents' feud begs to attend better school
BY NANCIE L. KATZ - DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER Sunday, September 9th 2007, 8:26 AM
Exclusive: The 8-year-old girl caught in an educational tug of war between her divorced parents wants to ditch her failing Staten Island school for a better-rated one in Manhattan." name=storyDesc>
Grace Yang Carter says Public School 6 in Manhattan is a 'better school' than Public School 16 in Staten Island
The 8-year-old girl caught in an educational tug of war between her divorced parents wants to ditch her failing Staten Island school for a better-rated one in Manhattan.
Grace Yang Carter said Public School 6 on the upper East Side, not too far from where her mom lives, is a "better school" than Public School 16 in St. George, close to her dad's home.
"My mom really wants me to to go [to PS 6] but I really want to go also," she told the Daily News.
"I like PS 16. But I'd rather go to school in Manhattan. I want to be challenged. I'm not challenged there. [PS 6] would be hard for me and that's what I want."
Even though she's taking sides on the issue, the bright, bouncy third-grader said she feels uneasy about her parents' battle.
"One parent says one thing, and one parent says one thing and I get stuck in the middle," Grace said. "Then I get all angry!"
Grace's mom, Esther Yang, won her daughter a coveted spot at highly regarded PS 6 through the federal No Child Left Behind act.
But her dad, Edward Carter, refused to yank her from failing PS 16 because the commute from Staten Island to PS 6 in a yellow bus would take about 90 minutes each way. He applied to three high-performing schools on Staten Island.
Grace splits her time between the two parents but under their 2004 divorce decree, Carter was granted the final say on Grace's education. So Esther Yang has asked a Manhattan appeals court to overrule Carter and let Grace go to PS 6.
Grace, who scored in the 92nd percentile on elite private school tests, said she's way ahead of her classmates at PS 16 - where half the kids read below grade level.
While she reads Nancy Drew books, her school chums are struggling through Dr. Seuss, she said.
Fellow students stumble over basic math, but "I get done really quick. I read or draw," she said.
"I try to do my work. Usually it's too loud and I can't do it. They [students] run around the room, throwing things, every day," she said.
"The older you get, the less-mannered they are. I found a way to figure out how to get everyone to be quiet! Scream on top of them: 'Be quiet!'"
Carter agrees that Grace should be in a better school.
But he accused his ex of wrongly applying to PS 6, which is 40 blocks from her Tudor City apartment, effectively nixing his applications to schools within 10 minutes of his home.
The dad said he does not want Grace to spend hours commuting or lose the "stability, consistency and warmth" of attending school close to him. If she goes to school in Manhattan, he said, she will miss out on play dates, afterschool activities and sleep.
Grace is less worried about the long trip to PS 6. "Mom will pick me up and take me," she chirped.
It was Grace's mom who alerted The News to her plight - which angered Carter.He accused the mom of exploiting and endangering their daughter. But Yang - who has asked the feds to intervene in her case - said she had no choice but to go public.
"I'm trying to protect her best interest," she said. "To do nothing would make me negligent as a parent."