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Friday, 11 May 2012 14:13

Poll: Should teachers be paid more?

It’s the end of teacher appreciation week: the DOE's number two guy, Shael Suransky, taught a class, Chancellor Walcott has been visiting schoolsMayor Bloomberg and countless others shared some #thankateacher love on Twitter, and maybe a few students brought apples to their teachers. We wonder, how can we best show our teachers appreciation all year round?

There are several politically charged answers to the that question that have been highlighted in the news lately. But, what about better pay? It’s no secret that teachers aren’t in it for the money. Teaching can be a highly rewarding job but it is not a career path paved with financial gold. A public school teacher in New York City with a BA can expect to earn $45,530 his first year, according to the UFT’s salary schedule.

Still, that’s almost 10K more than the national average: $36,502, according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s most recent survey of education from around the world. But the high cost of living in the Big Apple, eats up much, if not all, of the difference.

After three decades on the job NYC teachers with a Master's degree can make over $100,000. Of course if you luck out and get a job at TEP, The Equity Project Charter School, you'll make $125,000 your first year there. But that's the exception.

Average starting pay for teachers in Finland, Diane Ravitch’s favorite place to learn, is actually lower, $32,692 (of course, the Socialist country has much better government benefits, but that’s a blogpost for another day). Teachers in Japan make $27,995 starting out and $30,522 is first-year pay for teachers in Korea. In Poland, on the other hand, starting salary is $9,186 on average. Luxemborg is one of the best places to teach if you’re after some green, starting teachers there make $51,799. (All these numbers are from OECD.) 

With that perspective, maybe New York’s not so bad! Then again, teachers are some of the most valuable members of society, should we pay them more? What do you think is a fair starting salary? Take our poll!

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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].

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The good news for this year's gifted and talented kindergarten test-takers? More kids scored high enough to qualify for a citywide G&T program. The bad news? Eligible students have about a 1 in 7 chance of scoring one of those citywide seats.

Of the 14,249 children who tested for the city's gifted and talented programs, 2,656 -- 18% --  qualified for one of five citywide programs. But there are only about 381 citywide seats.  The number of eligible students continues to rise -- about 1000 students scored in the 99th percentile in the last two years. But the number of citywide seats has not risen to meet the demand.

To qualify for the more selective citywide program, children must score between the 97th and 99th percentile on two assessments; for district programs they must score between the 90 to 96th percentile. Fifteen percent of this year's kindergarten test-takers - 2,256 - qualified for district programs.

Some 35% of the kindergarten test-takers -- 4,912 -- are eligible for a G&T program. In 2010 and 2011, 28% qualified.

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Friday, 06 April 2012 15:10

125 schools have kindergarten waitlists

In a bumper year for public school kindergarten applications, more than 2,400 children are on waitlists at their zoned school. That is 200 fewer than last year at this time, according to data the Education Department released on Friday afternoon.

Three schools have more than 100 zoned families waiting for a slot. Topping the list again is gigantic PS 169 in Sunset Park, with 113 waitlisted zoned kindergartners at a school with 1450 students. Last year it had 95 children waitlisted in March after the first registration period. Nearby PS 94, another large school where more than half of the students are English language Learners, has 111 students on its waitlist.  PS 307 in Corona which opened in 2008, has 109 students on a waitlist.

More than 62,280 kindergarten applications were received in 2012 (as compared to 61,600 in 2011) and 125 schools have a waitlist for children living in their zone (the same number as last year.)  The DOE did not release the number of out-of-zone siblings of current students who have not been given seats. (Last year there were 553.) This year schools must get permission from the enrollment office before admitting students from outside the zone.

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Wednesday, 28 March 2012 16:28

24 charter schools opening, apply by April

Two dozen new charter schools will be opening next fall, adding to the 136 charters now operating in New York City. Applications for most schools are due by April 1, although several have later dates. Parents may apply online using a common application for some of them. Check the New York City Charter School Center website for details.

There's a mix of elementary, middle, high school and transfer schools, with the majority in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. Admission is by lottery, giving priority to residents of the community school district where the school is located. A few have additional admission's priorities. Some locations have been hotly contested by community schools and not all new schools have an address yet, or even a confirmed district. Some, like the three new Success Academies and Icahn or Explore charters, are part of an existing network of schools; others are so-called "mom and pop" charters, without a big organization behind them.

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Friday, 23 March 2012 13:27

Poll: How many schools did you apply to?

Kindergarten registration begins March 26 after families learn this week where their children got accepted. Schools sent out notification letters via email and regular mail by March 23.

While the majority of public school children attend their zoned elementary schools, other families apply to schools the way 18-year-olds apply to college. They visit many, work out the odds of admission and may even have a list of "safetys," and "reaches".

The Education Department's system of choice allows parents to apply virtually anywhere, even though priority in admissions goes to students in the school's zone and district. The odds of getting accepted at a school outside of your neighborhood or district can be slim.

Because of overcrowding some zoned schools can't accommodate all their students, so parents in the know begin early to look and apply elsewhere. (The Education Department will assign students to another district school if there is no space at the zoned school.)

In addition to zoned schools, families may apply to magnet or dual language programs, unzoned schools and charter schools, which are public but independent of the DOE.  Since there is no central application, parents go from school to school to apply. In mid-April, children who qualify for gifted and talented programs will apply to another school, or several schools.

We're wondering, how many schools did you apply to for your 5-year-old? And, although it's not in the poll, we're curious to know how many acceptances you get! Take our poll and comment below!

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A change in special education enrollment will likely have some already overcrowded schools coping with a large influx of kindergarten students in the fall.

In past years, most special education students were placed in schools that had space or offered the kinds of classes that could serve them. This year, in an effort to allow more special education students to attend their local schools, most will be enrolled at their community school.

The problem is that some schools that had big kindergarten wait lists last year also had a very low percentage of special needs students, compared with nearby schools. That means the new plan for sending more special education children to their zoned schools could bring even more kindergarteners to the doors of packed schools this fall.

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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.

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Tuesday, 21 February 2012 15:59

Special needs children need not apply

"Special needs children need not apply."

There was no sign hanging on the main office at PS 289 in Bedford-Stuyvesant last week, but there may as well have been.

Essence Louis says she was told Friday that she couldn't register her son Michael for kindergarten because next year the school won't have the kind of class he needs.

"I'm already dealing with a special needs child," said the distraught mom of two. "I love this child, but then to go to a school that's supposed to be helping you and to get there and get turned away, it makes you upset."

Michael's problem was not supposed to happen this year.

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Thursday, 16 February 2012 16:56

Poll: Change kindergarten cutoff age?

Kindergarten applications are due March 2, and any child born in 2007 may enroll in public school kindergarten. That means that some kids will still be only four years old when school starts. That cut-off date differs from many private schools and some city charter schools which expect children to turn five by Sept. 1, before the school year begins. 

In the last two decades, the practice of "redshirting" has become more common. (Redshirting is a term borrowed from sports, where it means holding an athlete back a year to develop more skills). Parents may want to give their children, especially their boys, an extra year of informal education for a leg up when they finally do start kindergarten. Many private school children don't start kindergarten until age six but in public schools, 6-year-olds must go into 1st grade.

On the other hand, a child reading by the age of four may seem ready for the big league. Spots in full-day pre-K are rare, and most New York City parents can't afford the extra year or two of daycare. 

What do you think? Should the age at which New York City kids enter public kindergarten be changed to ensure that all children are five years old before starting school? Take our poll and let us know!

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