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Free summer fun

Written by Aimee Sabo Tuesday, 22 July 2014 10:53

Perhaps that technology camp you enrolled your nature-loving daughter in just wasn’t quite right, or maybe you’ve noticed your teenager spending too many summer days staring at the wall—or a screen. Luckily, there are still lots of free, engaging summer classes and programs in all five boroughs for kids of all ages. It’s not too late! And don't forget to check out our listing of free educational enrichment programs year-round.

NYC Parks—Free Outdoor Pools

Visit one of New York City's free outdoor pools. Through Sept. 1, NYC Parks’ outdoor pools are offering amenities including free summer swim programs for all ages and abilities and free, healthy summer meals provided by USDA through SchoolFood, a part of the NYC Department of Education for all children 18 years old and under. Download a flyer to find out more about the local pool in your school district. For more information, visit nyc.gov/parks.

Evening workshops about the high school admissions process for 8th-graders and their families begin next week. Enrollment officials from the Department of Education wll lead information sessions and answer questions about the types of high school programs offered and how to fill out your application. All sessions run from 6:30–8 pm.

Insideschools will be at some workshops too, to meet parents and present our new mobiile high school search.

The first workshop is Tuesday, July 15 at Prospect Heights High School in Brooklyn; on Wednesday, July 16, there will be workshops at Lehman High School in the Bronx and at LaGuardia High School in Manhattan; and on Thursday, July 17, there are sessions at Queens College Kupferberg Center for the Arts (65-30 Kissena Blvd.) and at Staten Island Tech High School. 

This editorial, written by Abigail Kramer, associate editor at the Center for NYC Affairs at The New School, home of Insideschools.org, was published in the New York Daily News on June 28, 2014.

When the mayor and the City Council agreed on a budget last week, they added $10 million to a voucher program that helps low-income families pay for daytime and afterschool child care.

The vouchers are an invaluable resource. At a minimum, they allow parents to work. At best, they help families afford the kinds of high-quality programs that prepare kids for success in kindergarten and the years that come after.

Unfortunately, those benefits are not shared equally around the city. As of January 2014, nearly 50 percent of the city's existing low-income vouchers were used in just two Brooklyn neighborhoods—each home to politically powerful Orthodox Jewish communities.

Free summer meals available now

Written by Pamela Wheaton Monday, 30 June 2014 12:37

All children, ages 18 and under, may receive free breakfast and lunch every weekday from now until Aug. 29, 2014 at thousands of locations including schools, parks, pools, libraries and New York City Housing Authority complexes. Four mobile food trucks will operate seven days a week throughout the summer at popular places for families.

Sign up for middle school summer programs

Written by Pamela Wheaton Monday, 23 June 2014 17:39

Looking for a summer activity for your middle school student? Sign up now—before June 30—for one of the city's free enrichment programs just announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio last week.

Eligible students are between the ages of 11–13. Programs begin the first week of July and go through Aug. 22 and are designed to support children of working families. Most run from 9 am to 6 pm, although hours vary. Daily activities include time for reading, writing and STEM (science, math and technology) as well as theater, music, creative arts and sports. Kids take trips around the city and explore different communities. There are programs in all five boroughs, housed at schools or community organizations. Find a list of programs and sites here (PDF).

Pre-k push is great but what about zero-3s?

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 14:11

by Kendra Hurley, senior editor at the Center for NYC  Affairs at The New School, home of Insideschools.org. This article appeared on SchoolBook on June 11, 2014

New York City recently approved over 10,000 new pre-k seats, closing in on its goal of providing about 53,000 4-year-olds with free, full-day, pre-kindergarten starting this fall. Having just completed a (soon-to-be-released) report on child care and early education, I understand what an enormous boon this is for the city's families and future.

But, as a working mom with two kids under 3, I fear what it means for my family right now.

In the two-plus years my son has been in daycare, not one of the teachers heading his former classrooms is still there. I suspect more of the best teachers will leave before he and his younger sister move from daycare to pre-k. With the city hiring 2,000 new pre-k teachers over the next two years, directors of child care programs say they are bracing for a mass exodus of talented staff, creating instability and inconsistency at a time when my kids' and their peers' development hinges on the quality of their relationships with adults...

Read more on SchoolBook.

A report, co-authored by Kendra Hurley, will be released next Tuesday, June 17, at an event entitled: "Big Dreams for New York's Youngest Children: The future of early care and education." RSVP here.

Bill would change specialized HS admission

Written by DNAinfo Tuesday, 10 June 2014 12:33

(This article originally appeared on DNAinfo.com by Rosa Golensohn)

The teachers union and state lawmakers are pushing to overhaul admissions at the city's top public high schools, calling the lack of racial diversity at the schools "an embarrassment."

In an effort to increase the enrollment of black and Hispanic students at Stuyvesant High School, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and five other elite schools, a new state bill, backed by the United Federation of Teachers, seeks to broaden the admissions criteria beyond the current single test that determines which 8th-graders [and 9th] win admission.

Only seven of the 952 students admitted last fall to Stuyvesant High School were black—and just 21 were Latino, officials said.

Bklyn parents ask DOE to "promote integration"

Written by Chalkbeat Monday, 09 June 2014 11:09
Brooklyn parent leaders look for political support on school diversity (via Chalkbeat New York)

A group of parents in Brooklyn’s District 15 are calling on the city to make school diversity a new priority. Frustrated by statistics that show decreasing diversity in their district’s schools, and enrollment policies they see as unfair to their…

Special educators scramble to meet kids' needs

Written by Chalkbeat Friday, 06 June 2014 13:14

by Carrie Berg, a special education teacher at New Design Middle School in Harlem.

Unable to suggest alternative schools, teachers left with special ed reform dilemma (via Chalkbeat New York)

In February, I sat down with a new student I’ll call Diego, a 15-year old boy who had just moved to New York City from a Spanish-speaking country. He in came with his mom to my school, New Design Middle School in West Harlem, clutching a paper from…

Schools' pre-k almost full; 38% get no seat

Written by Pamela Wheaton Thursday, 05 June 2014 16:25

The city's push to fill public school pre-kindergerten classrooms with 4-year-olds next fall seems to be working. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that 97 percent of the half-day and full-day pre-k seats were filled after the first round of applications, as compared to 91 percent at this time last year. But there were still far more applicants than seats available for school-based programs, and many families were disappointed to learn in letters today that they did not get a spot.

Only 62 percent of the 41,178 families who applied got one of 26,411 slots, compared to 70 percent in 2013. Roughly 45 percent of famlies got their first choice, according to Department of Education data. There are 715 vacant seats, most of them clustered in low-income areas such as District 23 in East New York, District 16 in Bedford Stuyvesant and in districts where many new seats were added, such as District 14 in Williamsburg and District 5 in Harlem.