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.