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On Halloween, I played a cruel trick. As kids at my door grabbed handfuls of Skittles, I grabbed a camera, snapped a few shots of the children and yelled, “I can’t wait to post these photos on the Internet!” You should have seen the looks of horror on those faces.
The parents’ faces, I mean. Kids couldn’t care less if their photos appear online, but most parents believe any image of their child on the Internet violates their privacy and sets out a buffet table for pedophiles.
Such fears have lately gripped my daughter’s elementary school. Weeks ago, the principal sent home a note asking permission to post photos of kids (no names, just photos) doing things that show how the school is using a magnet grant. But with a dose of clumsiness that has become a Department of Education trademark, the attached release form was strangely vague. Parents were expected to fill in blanks that asked … well, no one was sure.
Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr will join education historian Diane Ravitch, Pedro Noguera and other education policy heavy-hitters at the first-ever Bronx Education Summit, Saturday, Oct. 15 at Lehman College.
Dr. Ravitch will deliver the keynote speech, "Improving Education for the Children of the Bronx," in the morning, followed by break-out sessions for parents and teachers on topics including early childhood, special education and English language learning. Our own education experts Jacqueline Wayans, Insideschools assignment editor, and Kim Nauer, education project director at our parent organization the Center for New York City Affairs, will participate in a panel discussion about parent involvement from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. In the afternoon, a panel of local education policy experts will discuss education in the Bronx, "from cradle to career."
A full schedule is available on the Bronx Borough President's website, though unfortunately, at this time, it appears that registration is closed. For those looking for advice from Jacqueline Wayans, it's not too late to register for her Oct. 25 workshop at City College, "Choosing the Right School for Your Child."
A special education teacher, Marisa Kaplan, has launched a new blog to help parent and teachers learn about how technology can help kids learn. The blog, EdGeeks.com, also provides place for parents to ask advice--including the questions you may not have time for in your parent-teacher conferences.
We at Insideschools face a mighty task — keeping up with all the city schools.
If we visited one school every school day, it would take us nearly 10 years to get to all 1,700 of them. Increasingly we depend on the Insideschools community — public school parents, students and educators-- to let us know what’s happening. What did we get right, what didn’t we get right? What’s changed since our visit? Our paid staff consists of two full-time editors, plus freelance writers and part-time reporters, and we can't do it alone.
“I hear that some kids in your 1st-grade class have special needs,” my sister (a retired teacher) told my daughter. My daughter stared back in confusion. When you’re in 1st grade, a “special need” isn’t autism or attention-deficit disorder. A “special need” means you have to go to the bathroom really bad.
In fact, as many as 40 percent of the kids in my daughter’s class do have special needs, meaning they have a learning problem that demands extra attention. But my daughter is unaware of such things. Judging from the “How was your day?” feedback I get, her 1st-grade class is rather typical, except now and then a kid throws a crayon at the teacher.
Parents of prospective kindergartners in some New York City neighborhoods tour elementary schools the way families elsewhere visit colleges, (although they may not bring their 4-year-olds along).
Discovering and keeping track of what schools to visit when can be a challenge. Robin Aronow of SchoolSearchNYC has done preliminary research and compiled information about tours at some Manhattan schools. We've posted those dates on our new District 2 and District 3 pages and we'll add information about schools in other districts if we get it.
After his bruising first week of high school, I found my exhausted freshman son lying in a heap of books and papers, soccer cleats and uniform still on, furry cat purring next to him. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that it would be a little while still before I have to worry about what time he’s coming home at night, where he is, and what his curfew would be.
But it’s coming. Parents of freshmen, who have endured an exhausting admissions season, may be taken aback by a new demand to go out on weekends and stay out ever later.
The new world of high school social life requires careful navigation for parents. Kids want to fit in, and for some, it’s the first time they develop a whole new life outside of the family and familiar friends. Because of high school choice, their friends may live in all five boroughs, making for some daunting transportation obstacles, late night commutes and a lot of sleepovers.
I confess I forgot to do something special on Sept. 20 during New York state’s much-ballyhooed Dads Take Your Child to School Day. Instead, that day I did what I usually do: I took my child to school.
And I can’t honestly say I noticed a significant difference in the adult male-female ratio that morning at my daughter’s Upper West Side elementary. Mothers still make up the majority at the chaotic morning drop-off, but full-time fathers aren’t rare. Consequently, I tend to view Dads Take Your Child to School Day with the same sneer that working mothers might greet a holiday called Moms Go Get a Job Day. If you’re going to create a special day to celebrate innovation, at least make sure you’re not a decade behind the societal curve.
It's time for 5th and 8th-graders and their families to plunge into the middle school and high school admissions season. Jacquie Wayans of Insideschools.org has teamed up with City College to offer seminars on Choosing the Right School for Your Child on Tuesday, Oct. 18th & Oct 25th.
With tours to schedule, fairs to attend, and application deadlines approaching in December, parents need more guidance than what is offered in school directories.