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Ask Judy
Friday, 14 September 2012 15:43

Start looking for middle schools now

Believe it or not, 5th grade parents, it's time to start checking out your middle school options – the first middle school fairs begin October 3.

Different middle schools -- and districts -- have different application processes. There are schools you have to apply to in person, others that you list on an application provided by your elementary school and still others that require auditions and special tests. Sounds intimidating, but it can be mastered.

This month, you should figure out what schools your kid is eligible for so you can make sure to hit the district fair, sign up for a tour or request a test.

Published in News and views
Sunday, 09 September 2012 20:18

Elementary Dad: Supplies you'll really need

Thank you, dear parent, for providing classroom school supplies. But in addition to the paper, felt-tip markers, pencils, tape, baggies, folders, notebooks, Kleenex, toilet tissue, hand sanitizer, bandages, splints, slings, surgical sponges, latex gloves, lice combs, coxsackie detection kits and four bottles of cabernet that we requested for the classroom, we’d like to recommend you stock up on a number of items for your own home.

Among them:

-- A damn good pencil sharpener: Sure, this seems simple, but this crucial item actually will be difficult to find. The solid, trusty pencil sharpeners with those finger-swallowing rotating blades that you recall from your own school days have gone the way of Atari Pong. In their place are battery-operated bits of cheap plastic that put safety ahead of sharpness. They’re no match for the hardwood in a No. 2 Ticonderoga. To find the Real Deal, we suggest you scour antique stores or salvage yards, or perhaps bring a screwdriver and a sack with you next time you visit your old school during homecoming week.

Published in News and views
Tuesday, 04 September 2012 13:38

Ask Judy: Too early to start thinking pre-k?

Dear Judy,

My granddaughter is three years old and my son and daughter-in-law are beginning to hunt for a pre-kindergarten for September, 2013 when he will be four years old. Can you offer any suggestions?


Dear Grandpa,

Your family is lucky to have an involved grandparent – I can see you are ready to research the field. There are a few steps that will lead you to the program that is right for your granddaughter and there is plenty of time to carry them out. However, be forewarned: Not all four-year-olds actually get a slot in a public school pre-kindergarten. Last spring 30 percent of the applicants were without a seat after pre-kindergarten acceptance letters went out. Although some seats opened up and parents could continue to apply over the summer, there are no guarantees.

Pre-k applications are last on the admissions line. In 2012 applications were due April 10 for programs located in public schools. The 2013 admissions calendar is not yet set but you can sign up on the Education Department's website for updates. As long as you meet the deadline, acceptance does not depend on when the application  was submitted. For pre-kindergarten in community organizations such as Y's or Head Start programs, admission is on a rolling basis. You apply directly to the CBO and there may be additional requirements and in some cases, fees.

Published in News and views
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 14:05

Here's help for special ed parents

The beginning of a new school year can be exciting -- and confusing. Some very helpful information is now available for families of students with disabilities. A new fact sheet from Advocates for Children is online in both English and Spanish.

It covers a range of issues that often crop up at the beginning of school, including:

* What to do if your child does not yet have a school
* What to do if your child's school says it cannot serve your child's needs
* What to bring with you if you are enrolling your child in a new school
* What to do if you need specialized bus service, but nothing is in place

For many children with special needs, the start of school will be a smooth process, but if it's not, you can get in touch with Advocates for Children for advice and assistance. Their help line at (866) 427-6033 is staffed Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.


Published in News and views
Thursday, 06 September 2012 11:19

A teacher's plea: Hey parents! Just respond!

I know you’re busy. I know you work three jobs, are taking care of an aging parent, are getting a divorce, have health issues, have kids in two different schools and you breathe a sigh of relief when your kid goes to school in the morning and you know someone else is in charge, if only for a little while. I get it. But I do need one thing from you. I need to know you’re there.

It doesn’t need to be much. A signed permission slip, submitted on time. A response to a question or a question sent to me about an assignment, or even a critique.  Just something to let me know that there is a living, breathing parent out there that is keeping an eye on their child and their classroom life. 

Published in News and views
Thursday, 23 August 2012 12:34

New student enrollment centers open

High school students who are new to New York City or who are re-entering city schools after a time away, may register at special enrollment centers opened on Aug. 28 in all boroughs. The centers are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Sept. 14, with the exception of Labor Day.

Elementary and middle school students who have zoned neighborhood schools have to wait until the first day of school, Sept. 6, to register at the school.  In areas where there is middle school choice or no zoned schools, families should go to a registration center.

The centers are designed for new students and students who aren't yet assigned to a school but in the past, enrollment staff has  been able to help some students who needed a transfer or different school placement.

All special education students who have a current IEP (Individualized Education Plan) may enroll directly at their zoned schools on Sept. 6.  Those without an IEP need to go to an enrollment center or to a special education site.

Students must be present to register. And, paperwork, including proof of address is required. See the Department of Education's website for all the details.

See GothamSchools rundown on what's happening at the centers this week as parents rush to register their children before opening day.

Here's a list of the centers:


Theodore Roosevelt Campus
500 East Fordham Road

PS/IS 194
1301 Zerega Avenue (enter on Parker Street)


Brooklyn Tech High School 
29 Fort Greene Place (use the South Elliott Place entrance)

Clara Barton High School
901 Classon Avenue

FDR High School
5800 20th Avenue


A.Philip Randolph High School
443 West 135th Street

The High School for Fashion Industries
225 West 24th Street

Thomas Edison Career & Technical Education High School

165-65 84th Avenue

Long Island City High School
14-30 Broadway

Staten Island:
Michael J. Petrides School
715 Ocean Terrace, Building C



Published in News and views
Thursday, 23 August 2012 10:58

Free backpack giveaway to kids in need

The Islamic Circle North America will give away 5,000 backpacks stuffed with school supplies to needy children tomorrow, August 25, in sites around the city.  The giveaway is part of a national campaign to distribute 30,000 stuffed backpacks to children in need of any religious faith.

City Council Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson will be at the launch event on Friday, August 24 from 5pm-7pm at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Educational and Memorial Center, 3940 Broadway in Manhattan.
Here's the list of other giveaway dates and places in New York City:
Saturday, August 25
Bronx Muslim Center
702 Rhinelander Ave
Bronx, NY 10462
Saturday, August 25
MAS Sheepshead Bay Community Center
2812 Voorhies Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11235
Sunday, August 26
ICNA Headquarters
166-26 89th Ave
Jamaica, NY 11432
Sunday, August 26
Masjid Taqwa
1266 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11216
Friday, August 31
MAS Astoria Community Center
25-15 Steinway Street
Astoria, NY 11103
Click here for more information.
Published in News and views
Tuesday, 21 August 2012 15:44

Back to school with asthma & allergies

For some families, back to school means new clothes and school supply shopping. But if your child has asthma, food allergies or any condition that requires medication in school, you’ll have to add something else to the list: medical forms. You may need the Medication Administration Form (MAF), Asthma Action Plan, or a Section 504 form to ensure your child has a safe school experience

The MAF allows students to receive the medications they need at school. The Asthma Action Plan is developed with your doctor to help control your child’s asthma. But too few families have these forms. According to the New York City Department of Health, in 2009, only 65% of children who should have a form on file actually did. Food allergies can be fatal, as in the case of a Canadian school girl who died at school because her condition was not properly recognized by school officials.

Published in News and views
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 11:49

Gifted 4th, 5th-graders apply now for G&T

Fourth and 5th-graders who scored 4's (the highest level) on both the 2012 state reading and math exams may apply now through Sept. 14 for seats in district and citywide gifted and talented programs.

Seats are scarce, especially for 5th grade, and some districts will have more openings than others. There may be a very few 4th grade seats at  citywide gifted programs. The website for the Anderson School, a citywide K-8 G&T school on the Upper West Side, indicates they do not have room for more 5th graders but "possibly a very limited number for 4th grade."

How can you find out whether a school has an opening since there is no central list? Your best bet may be to call the parent coordinator. Be aware that because families move during the summer schools may not know their final rosters until September. According to the Education Department, if there are more applicants than seats available, a lottery will be held. District programs are only open to students in that district.

Only students who score double 4's may apply. Fifth grade seats are only offered at K-6, K-8 or K-12 schools, not for elementary schools that end after fifth grade. 

A downside: Students will not find out until late September whether they get a seat -- not the most opportune time for a 4th or 5th grader to be changing schools.

Click here to get the application, details about admissons and a list of all G&T programs in the city that have 4th or 5th grade gifted programs and may have openings.

Published in News and views
Thursday, 26 July 2012 14:08

Test scores now posted on ARIS

Parents may now see their children's 2012 reading and math state test scores on the Education Department's parent website, ARIS, a week earlier than scheduled. The schools' test scores were released last week by the state Department of Education and individual student scores are now up as well, according to parents checking the site today.

Parents and guardians may log on using their ARIS user name and password to access their child's test information.

If you don't have internet access or need help logging onto the ARIS system, the city has set up ARIS access stations at select libraries in all five boroughs during the week of Aug. 6-10. Be sure to bring a photo id. Translation services will be provided. (See a list of the libraries below.

Some 7,000 elementary and middle school students were surprised to find out last week that they had actually passed the state's reading or math tests, even though they had been told they had failed, and were sent to summer school, the New York Post reported on Thursday.  Because the state tests for grades 3-8 are now given in the spring, results are not available until after the end of the school year. Schools must use preliminary scores to estimate how many students won't make the mark and they have miscalulated over the past two years.

Published in News and views