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Ask Judy
Judy Baum

Judy Baum

Ask Insideschools a Question

Judy Baum, Insideschools' longtime advice columnist, passed away on Dec. 20, 2013. Her columns are archived here, under Ask Judy. Insideschools will continue to answer readers' school-related questions. Email us at info@insideschools.org.

By Judy Baum

Monday, 14 May 2012 12:17

Must I send my son to summer school?

Dear Judy,

My son’s teacher said he might have to go to summer school so he won’t be left back. Does he have to go to summer school? I want to send him to camp.

Annoyed parent.

Dear Annoyed,

Good news: No one is going to force you to send your son to summer school – attendance used to be required, but now is voluntary. However, they can keep him back from the next grade if his school work does not warrant promotion. It is all covered in Chancellor’s Regulation A-501. More good news, summer school sessions run until August 8th at the latest. So he can go to the last three weeks of camp – most camps have flexible schedules with campers signing on for a few weeks rather than a whole summer.

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 00:21

Ask Judy: Time to start high school hunt?

Dear Judy,

I am a nervous wreck. My son is going to 8th grade in September and I feel anxious about the whole high school admission process. I know schools like it if you attend their open houses or tours, but how do I find out about them? How do I find out enough about the schools to make a choice? Is there anything we should be doing this spring?

Worried, anxious parent

Dear Worried, Anxious parent,

You are not alone. Thirteen is the age of anxiety for NYC parents and kids  When kids reach that age, the  prospect of high school applications looms in the not too distant future and provokes more than the usual concern over state tests and report cards.There is no getting around the challenges of high school admission, but there are ways to lessen the worry. As with most problems, being informed is the first step.

Dear Judy,

My teenagers want to work this summer – if they can find jobs. Any ideas about how they can find work when there is so much unemployment?

Mother of Teens

Dear Mother of Teens.

Teens are a vulnerable group when it comes to summer jobs. They have to plan and be very aggressive in the search. Here are some tried and true suggestions.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012 12:07

Ask Judy: Your G&T queries answered

Gifted and talented results letters were sent to families last week, and since then our inbox has been full of G&T queries from parents of prospective kindergartners who must apply by April 20. Here are four questions that we answered.

  • My 4-year-old is a smart guy. His teacher says he is ahead of the other kids in his pre-kindergarten class, but he got a really low score on the G&T test. He took it on a very cold day and he is rather shy. Can he retake the test? .

The short answer: not this year. There are no re-dos. If your child was ill on the test date, or if there was a problem with the administration of the exam, you had 48 hours to report the problem. He can test again next year when he is in kindergarten. Note, next year it will be it will be a different test mix. The OLSAT will be kept but the Bracken will be replaced by the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test [NNAT].

Tuesday, 03 April 2012 10:12

Ask Judy: My 9th-grader is floundering

Dear Judy,

Our son used to be an A student but now he is getting Ds and Cs. He is a freshman in high school. The teachers tell me he does not do his homework. Sometimes he does it but forgets to hand it in. We can't figure out why he is no longer interested in school and we are getting worried!

High school parent.

Dear High School Parent,

High school is a big change for kids and sometimes they can be thrown off course. There may be any number of reasons your son is doing poorly. He could be affected by the extra work load, by having to deal with many teachers and students (depending on the size of his school), by a teacher who made an offhand comment about his academic skills, or a fellow student who disparaged him.

Indeed, there may be a deeper problem. When kids change their habits so drastically, it can be a mask for behind the scenes worries – most likely trouble with other kids at school. He may be finding it hard to make friends, he may be the target of bullies. He may be hanging around with other discouraged kids. There is lots of talk about bullying these days and his school should have instituted programs and discussions that offer kids a confidential way to report their problems. If not, take steps to see that they do. I recently wrote about this.

Dear Judy

My 16 year old 10th grade daughter received a safety transfer from her very dangerous high school. How do I go about finding a new high school for her?

Confused and anxious

Dear Confused and Anxious.

Transfers are hard to get so your daughter’s experience in an unsafe school must have been harsh. Take the time to find a school that is known for a warm and nurturing atmosphere and which puts emphasis on respectful interactions among student and faculty.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012 11:26

Ask Judy: A few more kindergarten questions

Parents applying to kindergarten for fall 2012 still have questions as the pre-registration period draws to a close on March 2. Here are a few more questions that parents asked at our kindergarten workshop this month.

1. If you apply to a school not in your zone or district before the deadline, do you take precedence over someone in the zone who has missed the deadline?

No, sorry, the school is required to serve its own zoned kids before anyone else whenever they show up unless the Education Department has agreed that the school has no room left and caps enrollment. In that case, out of zone kids would not have been accepted in the first place. When you register does not count – priorities do.

Monday, 27 February 2012 10:59

Apply to pre-k beginning March 5

Applications for public school pre-kindergarten will be available March 5 online and at elementary schools and Education Department enrollment offices. Families must submit applications by April 5. Applications for programs located in community based organizations are separate and are now available online or at each agency that offers pre-kindergarten.

Any child who turns four years old in 2012 may apply, but seats are not guaranteed. While admissions to public school pre-k is not as competitive -- or as expensive -- as private school --in many areas of the city, such as the Upper East Side and Park Slope, there are not enough seats to meet the demand. Programs are housed in public schools or at local daycares and pre-schools, and are either half day (2.5 hours), or full day, (six hours and 20 minutes.)

How do you find out which schools and community centers offer programs? Early in March directories will be posted online, or you can get paper copies at schools, daycare and Head Start centers and borough enrollment offices.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012 12:24

Ask Judy: My son is being bullied

Dear Judy,

My son has been physically attacked several times in elementary school – I call it bullying—but the classroom teacher is no help when it happens and the rest of the staff has not been helpful either. What can I do to help my son?

Frantic mother in Queens

Dear Frantic Mother in Queens,

Considering all the attention to combating bullying these days, it is really disheartening to hear that your school still has no clue about how to handle it. The week before schools closed for the winter break was Respect for All week  – to highlight activities associated with the Department of Education program to combat bullying.

The goal is to make the schools safe and supportive for all students. Under the Respect for All (RFA) program, schools are to create a school wide atmosphere of respect for all kids regardless of their race, gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, religion, weight or disability. The program calls for training at least one staff member to be the RFA – the one person in school that kids can tell about bullying without fear of reprisals, and who knows how to help. That person's name and where to reach him or her should be posted all over the school. Under city regulations both victims and bystanders are encouraged to bring their story to the designated RFA but they, and their parents, can also report online at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Thursday, 09 February 2012 12:53

Ask Judy: Waitlists for kindergarten?

Ed Note: Parents of prospective pre-K and kindergarten students had lots of questions at the Feb. 8 Insideschools forum at the New School. There wasn’t time to answer each one individually, so we grouped together similar questions and Judy will answer them. Here, she tackles questions about schools that may not have enough room for all zoned students.

Q: My child falls into the second priority for admission to kindergarten. Within this second priority how is admissions decided? Is it first-come first-served, random, or based on our actual address? Of course, we would be crushed if our child had to be waitlisted as a zoned child so I am wondering what we can do to increase our chances.

The Department of Education has established priority guidelines for all children applying to kindergarten. These are outlined on the DOE’s website and in the new Elementary School Directory. First priority goes to zoned students whose siblings will be enrolled in grades K-5 in September 2012. Second priority goes to zoned students who don't have siblings enrolled in the school – your situation.