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Ask Judy
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
2-4pm
Bronx Muslim Center
702 Rhinelander Ave
Bronx, NY 10462
 
Saturday, August 25
1-3pm
MAS Sheepshead Bay Community Center
2812 Voorhies Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11235
 
Sunday, August 26
4-6pm
ICNA Headquarters
166-26 89th Ave
Jamaica, NY 11432
 
Sunday, August 26
11am-1pm
Masjid Taqwa
1266 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11216
 
Friday, August 31
5-7pm
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
Tuesday, 24 July 2012 12:00

Ask Judy: Is kindergarten mandatory now?

Dear Judy,

Hi, I saw there was a bill passed to make kindergarten mandatory in NY, but never heard if it was signed into law. It also appeared to move the K cutoff date to December 1 from December 31, which could be a wonderful thing for my December boy. Is it happening?

Kaye

Dear Kaye,

The mandatory kindergarten legislation you were referring to, Assembly A9861 (and its counterpart in the Senate S7051) was signed last week by Governor Cuomo. When it gets published, it will be found in Chapter 157 of the laws of 2012, but you can read it in the legislation form until then.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office championed this initiative and, according to her office, a better description of the legislation is that it, “lowers the compulsory age for school to five.” That’s the simple part. The more complicated parts of implementation have to do with some still unresolved issues: The cut-off date for entry to kindergarten, and an “opt-out” provision.

Published in News and views
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 12:07

Collect backpacks for homeless kids

Drugstores and variety stores have already started displaying school supplies for September.  To help those families that cannot afford to buy supplies, Volunteers of America is launching its annual Operation Backpack, to collect backpacks and stuff them with school supplies for students who are homeless or live in domestic violence shelters.

Last year, 8,000 backpacks were collected and filled with requested school supplies and distributed to children.

Want to participate? The website lists ways that people can help:

For the month of July, you may drop off backpacks and school supplies at any Duane Reade store as well as other locations, including the offices of several City Council members.

In July and August corporations and other organizations are holding drives to collect items. In August, volunteers will be sorting supplies at a huge space in midtown.

You can host a drive at your office, community organization or place of worship, or you can purchase supplies from a wishlist online. Items may be shipped to: Volunteers of America, Attn: Kristin Kelly-Jangraw, 340 West 85th Street | New York, NY 10025.

Published in News and views
Monday, 16 July 2012 12:34

Test scores released Tuesday

The State Education Department said today that standardized math and reading test scores for grades 3-8 will be released Tuesday, July 17. That's nearly a month earlier than 2011 when test data was released on Aug. 8, with parents able to access their children's scores online on Aug. 17

This year, test administration in April was marred by errors on the several of the exams resulting in questions being discarded. An 8th-grade exam had a nonsensical story about a talking pineapple that almost no one understood and, in May, teachers were confused about how to score the exams. This was the first year that the testing company Pearson produced the tests. Because of the many mistakes, the state said that Pearson would have to pay for an expert review of its test development process.

Families of 113 children, angry about the emphasis on high-stakes testing, decided to opt out of taking the exam, the New York Times reported, more than in previous years. Many others decided to boycott the field-tests in May and June.

Published in News and views
Monday, 09 July 2012 16:00

Council launches LGBT book drive

The City Council and Department of Education have launched a five-borough book drive for schools to heighten awareness and understanding in students about LGBT (lesbian,gay, bisexual and transgender) issues.

A message from Christine Quinn's office says: "Access to these books can help prevent bullying, depression and other negative outcomes in students, many of whom come from non-traditional families and/or may be confused about their own thoughts and feelings. It can also help children develop empathy by increasing their understanding about how people around the world are both similar to and different from themselves."

A Chancellor's Regulation, updated in 2011, addresses the issue of bullying but some groups are concerned that the regulation doesn't go far enough as incidents of bullying continue.

Here's a list of requested books that may help spread the word:

Published in News and views

No graduation ceremony was held when my daughter’s class finished 1st grade, so I was not invited to give the commencement address. But if I had been the featured speaker, I would have said something like this:

Thank you, Chancellor Walcott, for that kind introduction. Parents, principals, teachers, classmates, janitors, Mayor Bloomberg, thank you all for coming today. Most of all, to you graduating 1st-graders: Congratulations! Job well done! Most of you probably recognize me, because I’m the father of — yes, that’s right! But let’s not shout. Always raise your hands, because — OK, that was a mistake, because now all of your hands are up. Instead, let’s put on our listening ears, sit down, and let me say something really important.

The completion of 1st grade is truly a historic moment in your academic career. When you look back, you’ll realize that kindergarten, which seemed seriously important only last year, was just a warm-up for the grade you just completed. In kindergarten, teachers had to reinforce basic ideas such as “Share” and “Take turns” and “No ankle biting” and “Don’t laugh when another kid burps loudly in class.” First grade marked the start of REAL education — as I’m sure you realize, because you faced homework every weeknight. You learned to read and write. You learned basic addition. And you learned that, if a kid actually does burp loudly in class, it is OK to think it is funny so long as you don’t actually laugh out loud. These lessons will serve you well in the future.

Published in News and views
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 10:51

Free summer meals beginning on June 28

All children, ages 18 and under, may receive free breakfast and lunch at many schools, parks and pools beginning on June 28, the day after schools close for summer vacation.

Breakfast will be served from 8 to 9:15 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Children participating in the Learn to Swim program at city pools will get breakfast at the pool. Check the city's Department of Parks and Recreation website for a borough by borough list of all available parks and pool sites. You can also call 311 or text “NYCMeals” to 877-877. A list of sites, including public schools, is also on the Department of Education website.

Famiilies do not need to show any documents or identification to receive a free meal. Meals are also offered to any person who participates in a special education program.

The free meals are provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through SchoolFood, a part of the New York City Department of Education, from June 28 through Aug. 31.

Published in News and views