City schools

New Schools in Berlin Are Giving Poor Families Educational Choices

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  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Berlin attracts many people from abroad. As a result small private schools are starting up, even in deprived areas where parents and educators want to provide alternatives for low-income families. This means more choice for everybody.

  • Facts


    • Berlin’s public schools in the poorest areas are failing the pupils they teach but until recently, children from low-income families lacked other options.
    • Now, parents and educators are opening new schools in the city, which means public schools have to compete for poorer children as well as for kids from wealthier families.
    • The Social Democrats running education in the city are refusing to fund some of the new schools.
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Berlin’s public schools have always been able to count on getting plenty of children from low-income families. They filled up even the worst schools without complaint because they didn’t have a choice.

Meanwhile, attractive new schools with an international flair have been opening each year for higher income families, high-mobility parents and other well-heeled folk.

Now, people are starting new schools that don’t cost anything or only charge a very small fee and are open to families without an income. They’re located in socially disadvantaged areas and initiated by parents and educators who are sick of standing by and watching state schools churn out unsuccessful kids, year in, year out. Those children could be their children, after all.

The new schools they open are private but they do not have any money. They depend on sponsors and donors, and the parents and teachers running the schools improvise, take risks and do everything they can. They’re keen on making sure their children don’t wind up hostages of the public school system, which, while it might have more money than they do, isn’t doing a good job of spending it.

Each one of these new schools is further proof that public schools are suddenly facing competition from two sides. They’re not only trying to attract kids from wealthier families, but are now also competing for youngsters from low-income families. Competition has reached a new level.

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