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Nearly 30 percent of the 35,000 children who took "gifted and talented" assessments in January scored high enough to qualify for one of the city's G&T programs. But, once again, the highest percentage of eligible students come from middle class districts in Queens, brownstone Brooklyn and Manhattan while residents of the city's poorer areas are largely shut out.

Outreach efforts by the Department of Education in central Brooklyn and the Bronx did succeed in increasing the number of test-takers for kindergarten, but the number who qualified didn't budge: fewer than 10 four-year-olds scored high enough in District 16 in Bedford Stuyvesant, District 23 in East New York, District 7 in the South Bronx and District 12 in the central Bronx. Because of the small numbers, those districts will not have gifted kindergarten classes.

However, in an effort to bring G&T to underserved areas, last year the DOE opened programs beginning in 3rd grade, rather than in kindergarten, in those four districts. (They also added a program in PS 191 in District 3 an attempt to attract more Upper West Side families to that school.) Admissions to these G&T programs is based on a child's grades and teacher recommendation, rather than a standardized test. This year, 1,882 2nd graders were deemed eligible in districts 3, 7, 12, 16 and 23. Their parents must apply by April 28.

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Stand on the corner of 116th Street and Lenox Avenue in Harlem early on a school day morning, and you'll see a steady stream of children leaving the neighborhood by bus and subway. Some parents call this daily exodus the "Harlem diaspora." They may live in the neighborhood, but they don't necessarily send their children to their zoned neighborhood schools.

The hemorrhaging of students over the past decade has left many of the traditional neighborhood schools with declining enrollments and shrinking budgets. Five of the seven zoned elementary schools in the northern part of District 3—a district that includes a portion of Harlem in addition to the Upper West Side—now have fewer than 300 children; three have fewer than 200. And, because the children who stay tend to be needier than those who leave, the traditional zoned schools have higher concentrations of poverty and more children with special needs than they would have if everyone who lives in the neighborhood attended their zoned school.

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If your child didn't get the kindergarten spot you asked for, try to stay calm. Waitlists at sought-after schools move over the spring and summer. We have seen it happen year after year. Children get offers on a rolling basis as families make final choices. Hang in there.

The city sent out offers for kindergarten seats this week: 49,064 students (71 percent) received an offer to their first choice; 12,897 (19 percent) got one of their other choices and 7,189 (10 percent) were shut out of all their choices. Some received offers to their zoned school even though they didn't list it. 

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Tuesday, 31 January 2017 12:02

Suit up for summer programs this winter

Winter is the perfect time to think about summer activities for children. In fact, deadlines are coming quickly for many of the city's free programs. Summer is a great time for children to explore a new challenge or continue to sharpen their areas of strength.

Not sure how to find the right program? InsideSchools offers a guide of more than 100 free and low cost, summer and year-round programs for children.

Here are a few samples from across our five subject areas of math, science, arts, humanities, and academic prep to help you navigate your way to a summer of fun for your child.

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Learn about your public school options from Clara Hemphill, InsideSchools founder. She is offering two free workshops in Manhattan next week and presenting her new book, NYC's Best Public Pre-K and Elementary Schools.

Come to the Upper West Side on Monday, Feb. 6, at 6 pm for the workshop at Rutgers Community Programs at 236 W. 73rd Street. Sign up here.

Or, come to the Word Up Community Bookshop/Libreria Comunitaria, 2113 Amsterdam Ave. in Washington Heights, Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 pm.  

Hemphill will talk about the changes in public schools over the past 20 years and offer tips for finding a good school for your child. The book is based on more than 150 visits to public pre-k & elementary schools in all five boroughs by the InsideSchools staff.

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For nearly two decades, parents have looked to Clara Hemphill to help them find a good public school for their child. This Fourth Edition of "New York City's Best Public Pre-K and Elementary Schools A Parents' Guide" features all-new reviews of more than 150 of the city's best public elementary schools, based on visits and in-depth interviews by Hemphill and the InsideSchools staff.

This essential guide uncovers the "inside scoop" on schools (the condition of the building, special programs, teacher quality, and more), includes a checklist of things to look for on a school tour, and incorporates new listings of charter schools and stand-alone pre-kindergarten programs. It also provides the hard facts on:

  • Total school enrollment
  • Test scores for reading and math
  • Ethnic makeup
  • Who gets in?
  • Admissions requirements
  • Teaching methods and styles
  • Special education services
  • How to apply

The book is available now,  just in time for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten application season! You can look for it at your local bookstore or order online here. You'll get 20 percent off list price if you use the discount code TCP2017.

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Tuesday, 15 November 2016 16:15

Event: How to make our schools more integrated

The Center for New York City Affairs and InsideSchools present a Nov. 30 panel discussion based on an upcoming report: "How to Make Our Schools More Integrated."

We will present our findings and recommendations for better socio-economic integration of the city's public elementary schools, with a particular focus on neighborhoods where integration is possible without busing—that is, economically integrated neighborhoods where the schools are segregated.

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After two years of contentious public meetings, the Community Education Council, an elected panel of parents, has come up with a courageous and long overdue plan to ease overcrowding and foster racial and economic integration of three elementary schools in District 3 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It is a bold attempt to balance competing interests and to resolve one of the city’s most intractable social problems. City Hall and the City Department of Education (DOE) should back the plan, which the CEC devised only after it found every zoning plan the DOE offered to be unacceptable. City leaders should also take immediate, aggressive steps to address legitimate concerns raised by local residents.

After weighing multiple perspectives from often angry members of the public, the CEC, responsible for approving attendance zone lines, has taken the unusual step of coming up with its own plan.  This plan could end waitlists at the most popular schools and give hundreds of children better school facilities than they currently have.

If successful, the plan will also break up the high concentrations of poverty that have made it so difficult for one school, PS 191, to gain traction. In the past, most of the children from Amsterdam Houses, a public housing development, have been assigned to PS 191; under the CEC plan they would be assigned to three different schools, all a short walk from one another.

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Applying to elementary school in NYC has been compared to having a second job, but things may just have gotten a bit easier for families. For the first time, the Department of Education is staging “It’s Elementary!” admissions events in all 32 city school districts beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Enrollment officials will cover the major elementary admissions entry points in one evening—pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and gifted and talented programs. How the DOE manages this more complicated format remains to be seen, but it’s quite a boost from the handful of borough-wide admissions events offered last year. 

Families may begin applying to kindergarten on Nov. 30.

“We’re committed to making it easier for families to find and enroll in the school that’s right for them,” Deputy Chancellor for Strategy and Policy Josh Wallack said in a DOE press release. “We are confident the It’s Elementary! events are a real step forward—they’ll bring all the information families need for Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Gifted & Talented under one roof, and into every neighborhood—and we look forward to building on this progress.”

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New York City is one of the most segregated school systems in the country, but some schools buck the trend and enroll a mix of children of different races and income levels. How do they do it? And how can their success be replicated?

The staff of InsideSchools, a project of the Center for New York City Affairs, visited 80 elementary schools to find out how some formerly high-poverty schools have succeeding in attracting children from a range of races, ethnicities and income levels. We published our findings in a new report: "Integrated Schools in a Segregated City."

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