Search News & Views
By Judy Baum
Hurricane Sandy did away with the traditional week long winter vacation that celebrates both Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthday’s and conserves schoolhouse energy at the same time. This year all students get is a four day weekend. Here are some suggestions to make the most of it and take the opportunity to explore some free or very low cost -- and lesser-known -- attractions. Most are closed on Mondays, however, so plan those excursions for the weekend or Tuesday.
Federal Reserve Bank: Act quickly for a chance for older kids (16 plus) to visit the fabled gold depository and learn more about the institution that has been so much in the news since the economy went south. Call 212-720-6130 for immediate information about ticket availability—a 3-4 week wait for tickets is typical but either you’ll be surprised or you can reserve for a future date. Tours last approximately an hour, and begin on the hour from 9:30 am - 3:30 pm daily.
The Wall Street area and the 9/11 memorial, South Street Seaport, and Chinatown all have charms of their own – you can stroll about or make plans to visit museums and landmarks.
Can you tell me when the high school placement results will come out? How does the school tell the kids the news?
8th grade Mom
Dear 8th grade Mom,
Results of the high school applications are due out March 15 (alas, for some parents, that date is later than when private schools let their applicants know.) The placement results, in sealed envelopes, are picked up by each middle school from their local enrollment office. Along with the letters comes a list of all applicants and, in some cases, the schools use this list to determine how the letters are distributed.
Schools vary in the way they distribute the letters and the news, so you'll need to ask your 8th grade guidance counselor how your school handles it.
We currently live in Brooklyn but now we are considering moving to either Riverdale (Bronx), Astoria or Long Island City for reasons of work.
Our daughter is applying for G&T Kindergarten level (she is taking the test next weekend). By when do we have to have physically moved in order to be zoned correctly for the upcoming 2013-2014 academic year? For example, do I need to have an address for April 1st? Does it matter that the address is specifically located within a G&T program school (like PS 122?)
My 1st grader and her friends were 'play lunch box fighting' when she got hit with a lunch box between the eyes and her glasses broke on her face. When I spoke to the principal about filing an incident report she said the incident didn't warrant one because "accidents happen." She said that there was only one adult supervising 100 kids at recess and that he couldn't possible see what was going on with all the children. What is the required adult to student ratio during recess? I called the DOE and district advocate but no one had answers. I was hoping you would have the answer.
I did some research about supervision at recess and was surprised not to find any reference to a required ratio of adults to children outside of the classroom.
The UFT teachers contract spells out the number of students that may be in a classroom under the supervision of a teacher but it does not cover recess rules. It is usually not the classroom teachers who are out on the playground at lunchtime. A UFT staffer told me that each school's safety plan should explain the number of adults required to supervise recess, and that it varies from school to school. DOE spokesperson Marge Feinberg confirmed this in an email: "The ratio is at principals' discretion, and schools have to specify their own recess and lunchroom supervision in their safety plans. "
It's holiday gift-giving time again!
From mid-December on, schools are in a holiday mode. During these last days before the traditional 10-day break, there are performances, decorations and parties. Most parents and kids find it a good time to thank teachers for their hard work and maybe to cheer them on for the next term.
Luckily for elementary school teachers, there is usually a class parent to organize a classwide gift and then it is easy to conform to the city rules on gifts for teachers. Middle and high school kids see different teachers for different subjects and gift-giving becomes less common and more complicated. In any case, before a gift is given, it's helpful to know the city's rules.
I go to a high school in Brooklyn. I am a freshman. I have been asked by three older student to do drugs. I hate the environment and feel really unsafe going to school every day. I want to transfer but they are saying I need to wait until my year is over. I can't stand the thought of going one more day. I am really scared. I can't sleep anymore.
Drug use in schools is alarming. Most schools have a program, and specialists known as SAPIS, to combat it, but that is a long term solution and I think that your particular situation should be remedied immediately.
We are researching schools for our child who will be entering kindergarten next year. All the reviews I’ve read have been wonderful; the teachers, the principal, kids, parents, new math program. So I was a bit surprised that it had a low grade on the 2011-12 NYC DOE progress report. Cou you could offer any more insight?
Dear Prospective parent,
Your experience confirms ours: don’t judge the school by its letter grade alone. The letter on a school’s report is shorthand for a number of different measures and it helps to have some technical knowledge and persistence to understand it. Your question is a timely one not only for families applying to kindergarten but for 8th graders looking for a high school too. High School Progress Reports for 2011-2012 were released yesterday!
Has there been official word about making kindergarten mandatory and the cut-off birth date for admission? I heard there have been some changes in admissions rules this year.
There have been questions and confusion about this issue since last summer when the governor signed into law a bill authorizing New York City to "require minors who are five years of age on or before December first to attend kindergarten instruction."
The city has not yet acted to make kindergarten compulsory, but it has clarified that the cut-off birth date is still Dec. 31, not Dec. 1. While I can't say this is official, it is close.
If Stuyvesant High School is your first choice on the SHSAT exam and your score is below the cut off for Stuyvesant but above the cut off for your second choice, Bronx Science or the High school for American Studies at Lehman College, will you get into your second choice or will priority be given to those students who made Bronx Science or American Studies their first choice even though your score on the SHSAT exam was higher? I've been told by principals at SHSAT schools that if you don't make their school your first choice you will be completely out of luck as priority will be given to students who did so. Please advise.
-- 8th grade parent
Dear 8th grade parent -
Yours is a timely question! Many 8th and 9th graders will be taking the specialized high school exam on Nov. 17 and 18 after a few test dates were postponed by the storm. Students must rank their choices at the test and they won't be able to change the ranking later. It's also a question we get every year. There is always a little confusion, despite the Education Department's best efforts to get the word out.
Can you advise as to how a public school (MS 51 in Brooklyn) can decide to have a French Dual Language program for two 6th grade classes at the expense of the rest of the district kids? What is the approval process? How does this happen? What is FLAM and how did it get involved.
District 15 parent
Dear District 15 parent
Establishing a dual language program takes lots of hard work and commitment by principals, teachers and parents. First, you have to develop a constituency for the program. This is where a group like FLAM comes in. FLAM, which stands for Français Langue Maternelle, is an association to promote the teaching of French in city public schools. It sponsors after school French programs in some districts, and a few elementary school programs. The group includes current parents of public school kids. Like other not-for-profit groups, it cooperates with the school and the district to create and support programs.