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It's elementary: School times are a-changin'

Written by Aimee Sabo Thursday, 31 July 2014 11:49

When I first found out in June that my son’s elementary school would be ending 30 minutes earlier this year and I would have to pick up two children at the same time, ten blocks apart, my first thought, of course, was, “Yes! Now I can harness those superpowers of time travel I always knew I possessed!” Actually, just one word came into my head, and it's unprintable here.

Apparently I’m not alone. According to The Daily News, about 450 schools will be changing their start and end times this year in order to comply with the new UFT contract. In a nutshell, the contract does two things as far as the school day is concerned: First, it elmininates 37.5 minutes each day that teachers were previously devoting to small-group work and tutoring for students who were behind. Second, it reapportions that time for professional development, parent communication, preparing lessons and all the other behind-the-scenes work that teachers must complete but never have time for.

Help homeless kids get free backpacks

Written by Aimee Sabo Tuesday, 22 July 2014 14:22

There are 22,000 kids living in homeless and domestic violence shelters in NYC, according to Volunteers for America. In addition to the trauma and chaos of a transient life, imagine the feeling of arriving for the first day of school in September, seeing all your friends toting shiny, full backpacks ready to learn, and you have ... nothing.

In 2001, Volunteers of America–Greater New York launched Operation Backpack—a fundraising initiative aimed at providing our city's neediest children with the supplies they need to start the school year right. By filling thousands of backpacks with grade-specific supplies, Operation Backpack relieves stressed families of an impossible financial burden, and most important, they help kids living on the fringes get a fighting chance at a solid education.

There are many ways to get involved. Visit the Operation Backpack website for a list of grade-specific supplies and backpack drop-off locations throughout the city. You can also make a straightforward monetary donation to the project, buy supplies for the foundation's amazon wishlist or donate your time in person. It's a wonderful opportunity to do something real and tangible for NYC education, and to show a struggling child you believe in her.

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…