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Just two days before the end of the school year, many students and their families are still waiting to find out where they will be attending school in September.
High school appeal decisions are coming out today, according to the Department of Education. Eighth and 9th-grade students who were unhappy with the match they got in either the first or second round of high school admissions, or who may have moved far away from the high school to which they have been assigned, had the right to appeal the match. Those who appealed should be able to get their decision letters at school today.
In districts which offer middle school choice, 5th-graders could also appeal their matches. According to a DOE spokesperson, those results will be out "by Monday at the latest." With school ending on Tuesday, that news can't come soon enough.
And for elementary school, today is the last day to register for gifted & talented programs for students who got offers this week. Meanwhile, there are children on waitlists for kindergarten at their zoned schools who are hoping to hear that spots have opened up for them because other students have accepted placement in G&T programs. Waitlisted children were given alternative kindergarten offers in late May, but many are still hoping for a seats in their neighborhood schools, preferring not to send their child to a school far from home.
We've asked the DOE for the latest list of schools that still have zoned students on waitlists, and will post it when we get it.
Was your appeal granted? Is there still a waitlist at your school?
As the elementary school’s outdoor dance festival dissolved into a free-for-all waltz party, I hoisted my 5-year-old daughter into my arms and stumbled out a 1-2-3 cadence. It was a glorious June morning in New York, and I cherished the moment — part of that brief time when kids still want to dance with their parents.
Later, after the waltz ended and I reunited my child with her kindergarten class, I endured what I call the “kinder-cling”: tears, a quivering lower lip, outstretched arms, cries of “Don’t go!” My daughter’s wonderful teacher expertly jumped in, and I did what wise fathers do in such situations: detach, walk briskly away, trust that the situation will improve once I’m no longer present, and choke back my own separation anxiety.
That instance seemed to define my daughter’s first year in elementary school. I still am a necessary and desired presence in my child’s life, but I’ve turned over tremendous responsibilities to people who ten months ago were total strangers. Teachers, classmates, principals, even other parents now often exert as much (or more) influence on my daughter as I do.
(I’ve also become aware of powerful social forces present in a large New York elementary school with a turbo-charged parent association. I didn’t think sending my kid to kindergarten would lead me to adopt a whole new social circle, but that’s pretty much what happened. Two phrases keep echoing in my brain: “You will be assimilated” from Star Trek, and “Your people shall be my people” from the Book of Ruth. If those words aren’t in the school’s parent handbook, they ought to be.)
Just as important, my child’s personality is rapidly evolving. It recently dawned on me that a whole imaginary family — a dozen fictional siblings and cousins who last year were a constant invisible presence in our one-child household — had not been mentioned in months. When I asked about their whereabouts, my daughter casually said they were “away.” I suppose a kindergarten class of 24 other kids supplies enough real drama that fictional characters become superfluous.
I knew all these changes would happen, because it’s what elementary school is designed to do. Good teachers educate and mold children more expertly than I can. Criticism from a classmate will deflate a young ego faster than any timeout issued by a parent. We raise children to be well equipped for the real world, but that world doesn’t appear the day they turn 21. It arrives in chunks, often one school day at a time.
And so I waltzed with my clingy kindergartner, enthusiastically returning her embrace, unsure how much longer such displays of affection will be tolerated. Soon, the notion of dancing with your dad at a school function will be, like, totally gross, and “Don’t go!” will be replaced by “Why are you still here?” Like a child’s imaginary family, some things simply go away.
“Do you have a child-centered marriage?” someone asked me last week. My initial response was, “I was not aware there was any other kind.”
Turns out, most therapists (at least the ones I Googled) say couples have either a child-centered marriage or a parent-centered marriage. It boils down to whether the adults’ time and passion are focused on their children at the exclusion of their own needs. To put it another way: Has an intense commitment to being good parents come at the expense of a healthy romantic relationship?
I gave the question serious thought. I pondered it as I walked my 5-year-old daughter to and from kindergarten, as I hovered around her in the park, as I hung out during a play date, as I prepared her dinner, and as I gave her a bath and put her to bed. I thought about it Saturday as I sat in a stuffy school auditorium watching her perform with her after-school troupes, and thought about it some more during my three-hour volunteer shift at her school’s street fair.
And I definitely gave the question serious thought Sunday night, as I calculated ways to cram in some freelance work on this crazy June week in which my daughter’s elementary school has a half-day on Tuesday (for “clerical” reasons) and no school on Thursday (a “staff development day”).
Verdict: I have a child-centered life! Part of this is unavoidable: Raising a child involves a ton of work, not the least of which is keeping up with the demanding pace set by New York’s top public schools and the Byzantine rules of the Department of Education. But much of my situation is the result of intentional choices: My wife and I deliberately opted for a no-nanny existence, and we’ve set high-minded standards that we hope will result in a good kid. Call it “child-centered” if you want. I prefer to think I’m making tough decisions and legitimate sacrifices for my daughter’s long-term benefit.
I might be noble or foolish, depending on your perspective. Many marriage counselors blame a child-centered outlook for marital difficulties, and say parents need to carve out more time to be couples. Others say the reverse is true: Too many self-absorbed adults neglect their children’s welfare.
The pragmatist in me believes a middle ground exists somewhere. Children can have their needs met without being placed on pedestals. Husbands and wives can be model parents yet also provide their kids good examples of how adults behave in a loving relationship. As we nurture our children, we can still nurture ourselves.
My wife and I took a small first step toward adjusting the balance: We now make sure to regularly hug and kiss each other in the presence of our daughter. Fortunately, some sacrifices made on behalf of my child are less onerous than others.
Dozens of children remain on kindergarten waitlists at popular schools around the city, and last week families received letters assigning them to other schools in their districts.
At the end of kindergarten registration in March, more than 2,600 entering kindergartners were on waitlists at their zoned schools. The number has clearly shrunk -- although the Department of Education has not released current numbers -- as students move or accept seats at private schools. There there will be more movement this month when assignments are made to gifted and talented and special education programs.
But it is highly unlikely that all students will be able to attend their zoned schools in the fall, frustrating families who may have moved to a neighborhood just for the school.
At PS 290 Manhattan New School, on Manhattan's Upper East Side, 60 children remain waitlisted, according to Parent Coordinator Sally Mason. That's down from 71 at the end of March, but parents new to the neighborhood keep arriving hoping to register, she said. Families zoned for PS 290 are being assigned to nearby PS 198 and PS 151, even though PS 151 has its own waitlist. Also on the Upper East Side, some families zoned for PS 59 are being sent to PS 267, a new school that opened in 2010.
In downtown Manhattan, popular PS 234 has a waitlist of 28 students, according to The Tribeca Trib, despite rezoning of the area's schools in 2010 and the opening of two elementary schools in the neighborhood in 2009. The overflow students have been assigned to PS 130 in Chinatown and PS 11 in Chelsea. The New York Post reports that PS 234 are getting priority over waitlisted PS 130 students at the Chinatown school.
PS 3 and PS 41, which share a zone in Greenwich Village, started with waitlists of 54 and 55 students at the end of March. PS 3 cleared its waitlist, a school official said, and was sent 22 students from PS 41 by the Department of Education's enrollment office. Other students in the zone have been assigned to PS 11, which has more room since a middle school which shared the building moved out in 2010.
The assignment to a school outside of the zone came as a surprise to parents who had been assured on school tours that there would be room at either PS 3 or PS 41 for all zoned families.
"It's extremely frustrating," said Monique Rodrigue, who lives four blocks from PS 41. Her 4-year-old has been assigned to PS 11, and her 2-year-old goes to a nursery school in the opposite direction. "It's not that close to us. I have to go in the other direction to do morning drop-off within 15 minutes. They're too young to walk that far.
"We made a decision to stay in the city and this is what is driving people out," she said. "There are 3,000 on a kindergarten waitlist. They're not building the infrastructure to support the people who are moving here."
The longest waitlist in the city in March belonged to giant PS 169, in Sunset Park, which serves many children of immigrant families from China and Latin America. Only a few of the 95 students on the kindergarten waitlist have been given seats at PS 169; the remainder will be bused to PS 124, PS 38, and PS 230, all located in other District 15 neighborhoods.
In Park Slope, PS 107's waitlist dropped from 48 in March to eight this month, after the school decided to move its pre-kindergarten classroom offsite. PS 39, a tiny school in Park Slope, had a waitlist of 21 in March which is now down to 16.
Families may remain on the waitlists for their zoned schools into October, according to the enrollment office. Historically, many families have been able to register at their zoned school for 1st grade, although there is no guarantee.
We asked the Department of Education for an updated list of the schools that still have waitlists for kindergarten, and the number of families, but have not gotten an answer. Are you on a waitlist? Please share your information in comments.
Upper West Side parents learned at the District 3 Community Education Council meeting on Wednesday that PS 9 will phase out its popular gifted and talented program and will not admit incoming G&T class of kindergartners next fall.
The belated announcement by the Department of Education, coming more than a week after the May 10 deadline for submitting applications, caught parents by surprise. According to Robin Aronow, of SchoolSearchNYC, PS 9 has become increasingly popular, with many more neighborhood families choosing to attend its regular program, in addition to the sought-after G&T classes. At the end of the kindergarten registration period on March 30, there were nine zoned families on a waitlist, according to the DOE; the PS 9 website reports there were103 zoned children who filled out registration materials this year, many more than the 73 last year.
"It used to be that families only went for the G&T at PS 9 and now we've seen a turn-around, and many neighborhood families are now attending the school," said Aronow. "The timing [of the decision] is unfortunate given that families had to finalize their choices 10 days ago. The question is: will District 3 parents have a chance to reorder their choices."
District 3 isn't the only place where there has been confusion over where programs will be housed next year. Parents who called PS 229 in District 24 in Queens were told there would be no kindergarten G&T program there next fall despite it being listed on their application. DOE officials told parents that the school will offer a program if enough families select it, and parents were allowed to add it, or re-order their choices on their application late last week.
Typically, the DOE places G&T programs in schools that have space for children from outside of their catchment zone. According to a DOE spokesperson Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld, "P.S. 9 will not be serving G&T students this year because the school needs the space to accommodate families from its zone. This is not a reduction in G&T seats, however, as we’ll be offering more seats in other programs in order to accommodate G&T students. Shifting programs is very common, and every year we carefully plan our G&T sections to make sure we’re meeting demand and prioritizing the way we use our limited space."
An email circulated by the PS 9 PTA executive board says the "PS 9 administration and community had no say in this [decision not to offer G&T kindergarten classes] and were only notified after it was announced at the CEC meeting this past Wednesday. The timing of this announcement - not to mention the decision itself - has caused great concern not only among the many district 3 families who selected PS9 G&T as their first choice for their incoming kindergartners..."
The email suggests ways in which concerned parents may take action:
"1) Send Questions About OSE's Decision To:
Office: 212-678-5857 Press 4
2) Send a Message to Chancellor Walcott Via DOE Website: http://schools.nyc.gov/ContactDOE/ChancellorMessage.htm
3) Attend Town Hall Meeting (with Chancellor Walcott on Monday Night, 5/23:
6 – 7:30 PM @ PS 165, 234 W. 109th St. (Between Broadway & Amsterdam)
May 10 is the deadline for families of nearly 8,000 students who qualified or elementary school gifted and talented programs. Some 4,000 incoming kindergartners qualified this year, many more than last year.
Five years ago the Department of Education adopted a new set of assessments, standardizing testing across the city. Previously, each district offered its own testing requirements and entry points: some districts offered programs, others did not. Some required IQ tests, others devised their own tests. In standardizing the assessments and the testing timeline, the DOE said one aim was to equalize the process, and ensure that a diversity of students were represented in programs across the city.
But, it turns out that when districts administered their own tests, black and Latino students fared better in admissions. According to city statistics cited in The New York Times, before admissions were standardized in 2007, 15% of the students admitted to G&T programs were Latino and 32% were black. Last week, the DOE released statistics showing that in the 2010-2011 school year, only 11% of kindergarten G&T students were black; 12% were Hispanic. In the 2009-2010 school year, only 14% were black and 12% were Latino. In several high-poverty districts around the city, there were no programs for kindergartners at all this year because not enough children qualified
Last June, amid criticism that parents were gaming the system and prepping 4-year-olds for the tests, the city announced it would seek a new test. Gentian Falstrom, head of elementary school admissions, confirmed that the city has issued a Request for Proposals from test providers and a new contract will be in effect for the 2012-2013 school year.
We'd like to know what you think of the G&T testing? Is it fair? Should the assessments remain the same? If not, what changes do you suggest? Take our poll and let us know.
Families of the nearly 8,000 students who qualified for kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade gifted and talented programs for next fall are busy weighing their options and ranking their choices before applications are due on May 10. The Department of Education posted a list of open houses. There's still time to visit schools between now and Tuesday. (Note that some of the schools listed will not be accepting incoming kindergarten classes.)
Once you have visited the schools, how should you rank your choices? The DOE says there is no gaming the system -- you should rank your top choice first, and so on down the list. "Students with higher scores are placed first, regardless of how they prioritize their options," according to Gential Falstrom, head of elementary school enrollment.
The 2010-2011 G&T Handbook stipulates that the only students who are guaranteed a G&T seat in a district program are incoming kindergartners and 1st-graders "who rank every district option listed on their application." But, in a few areas around the city, especially when a district has only one option, parents must also rank a program listed on their application that is not in their district to be guaranteed a seat. According to an email from Falstrom, that is due to one or more of the following reasons:
- "geographic proximity and ease of transportation between the two districts;
- situations where the applicant pool in one district might not support the program with enough students;
- districts that do not currently offer a G&T program; and/or
- situations where offering the out-of-district program would add available seats to address district qualifiers."
Falstrom writes: "A student is only guaranteed a seat if he/she ranks all the options on the application, including options in another district." Bottom line for parents: make sure to rank all of the programs listed on your application. You can always turn down the seat later if you decide you'd prefer your neighborhood school.
The DOE is looking into a new test for next year's crop of G&T candidates, Falstrom confirms. The department has issued a Request for Proposals from test providers and "a new contract would be in effect starting in the 2012-2013 school year" -- welcome news for many families who believe that the current assessments are flawed.
For families who wonder why some popular schools won't be offering a G&T kindergarten program next year, here's the DOE's explanation of how location decisions are made: "schools must have the space to accommodate students from outside of their catchment zone; there is demand within the district requiring an additional program; and the Principal and staff have the interest and capability to offer this type of program."
The Department of Education has not yet released a list of eligible students by district, or a list of the schools at which they plan to offer programs next fall. (A final list of programs will depend on how many students rank a school on their application -- if there is not enough interest, a program may not open.) No word yet, either, on the breakdown of students who scored between the 97th and 99th percentiles, making them eligible for citywide programs. Last year so many students scored at the 99th percentile that lower-scoring students were mostly shut out of the citywide seats.
Got a question about your score or would you like to review the test booklet? You must file a request by May 10. The details are on the DOE's website.
We'll post new information as we get it.
As I battle with my 5-year-old daughter over school lunches, I am reminded of something a friend once said about gardening: “Tending a garden isn’t about growing things,” she told me. “It’s about killing things.”
Her point was that nurturing plants was relatively easy: soil, water and sunlight did most of the job. The big work involved pulling weeds and thwarting pests — in short, keeping the bad away from the good.
Similarly, I’ve found it’s relatively easy to get my child to eat. The trick is getting her to eat food that’s worthwhile, to broaden her tastes, to try new dishes with an open mind, and to stop whining every time I serve something different.
To further this goal, I insist my kindergartner eat the lunches served in her elementary school’s cafeteria. Fortunately, she attends one of the 18 New York public schools participating in the Wellness in the Schools program, which works to put healthy, enticing meals on cafeteria trays. The menus are appetizing: For example, Thursday’s lunch will be Asian roasted chicken, vegetable fried rice (or curried rice, or lo mein), broccoli, salad bar, and milk. The price: $1.50.
My kindergartner will eat such food, and usually she likes it. Yet, the next day, she’ll often nag me to pack a lunch featuring familiar favorites such as buttered pasta, pretzels or cheese sticks. This gets tiresome. So I asked Nancy Easton, co-founder of Wellness in the Schools and a mother of three young kids, how parents should fight this recurring battle.
Easton endorses a familiar formula: Be firm, establish good habits, and insist on nutritious, healthy foods. But she also suggests parents educate children about school lunches and teach them that their opinions matter. Kids might conduct classroom surveys to let cafeteria cooks know what tastes good, and what doesn’t.
“Play with it. Help come up with solutions,” Easton said. “It’s kind of like what I do at home. ‘Mom, I don’t like these vegetables.’ ‘Then come shopping with me and we’ll find a vegetable you’ll like.’ ”
Easton also urges parents to visit school cafeterias and see what’s being served.
“Go and eat lunch with your kids,” she said. “You might find things you can change — which is how we started.”
Easton’s record of change is impressive. Two of Easton’s kids attend Manhattan School for Children, where Easton and two other moms, Manuela Zamora and Sidsel Robards, recently completed a three-year effort to build a 1,400-square-foot greenhouse on a third-floor roof. The climate-controlled greenhouse uses recycled rainwater to grow vegetables, providing a hands-on lab for lessons in plant life plus an estimated 4,000 pounds of food each year for school meals.
The impressive greenhouse cost nearly $800,000 (a mix of public and private dollars), but Easton estimates the same design could be replicated for $500,000 at other schools.
I hope my daughter’s elementary school will get such a greenhouse. In the meantime, I’m going to follow Easton’s mealtime advice, and stay resolute in my campaign to raise a kid with broad tastes and a healthy attitude. It’s not just about killing the bad. A certain amount of cultivation is required, too.
Four thousand incoming kindergartners qualified for the city's gifted and talented programs this year, the Department of Education reported today, with many more students tested this year than last.
Some 14,040 four-year-olds were tested in 2011 as compared to 12,443 last year. After a steady increase over the past several years, the percentage of eligible students remained static this year with 28 percent of the test-takers qualifying. Eighteen percent of test-takers qualified in 2007-08 (the year that the DOE standardized testing across the city), 22 percent qualified in 2008-09, and 28 percent were eligible in 201o and this year.
Of the 4,000 eligible kindergartners, 45 percent (1,803 students) tested high enough to be eligible for one of the more selective citywide programs. That is lower than last year when a whopping 50 percent of the qualifiers were eligible for just 300 citywide seats. (No sign yet that the DOE will increase the number of citywide seats, although they have said they are looking for new assessment tools for next year's crop of test-takers.)
All incoming kindergartners and 1st graders who score at or above the 90th percentile on the assessments are guaranteed a seat in a district program, providing they list all available options on their applications, according to the G&T Handbook. Those scoring between the 97th percentile and 99th percentile are eligible for five citywide programs, but in reality most of those seats go to the students who score at the 99 percentile: there were 1,000 of them last year.
Kindergarten is the main entry point for G&T programs but the same assessments -- the OLSAT and BRSA -- are also offered to interested incoming 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-graders. This year more than 25,000 children in those grades were tested, a similar number as last year, with 3,906 qualifying for either district or citywide programs. That's compared to 4,043 who qualified in 2010 for a scattering of seats -- the DOE has not said how many.
Still to come: a breakdown of how many children qualified in each district, where new programs are opening and where existing programs will not be accepting new classes of kindergartners. The DOE said these numbers will be coming in the next two weeks.
If fewer than 10 students qualify in any district, there will be no new gifted kindergarten class. Children in those districts who qualify may attend a gifted program in a neighboring district. The DOE's 2010-2011 list of programs shows there were no G&T kindergarten classes in districts 7, 9, 12 in the Bronx, districts 23 and 32 in Brooklyn, or District 27 in Queens. The programs may change from year to year depending on the number of eligible students, the interest in programs, and the capacity of the schools to house them. As a result, several very popular neighborhood schools no longer host G&T programs, while traditionally under-enrolled schools now offer them.
Parents have between now and May 10, when applications are due, to consider their options. Note that many -- but not all -- of the schools offering G&T programs invite parents to come in for a tour or an open house. Your best bet is to check the school's website (linked on our school profile pages) or call the parent coordinator to find out.
And, we'll continue to post updates as we get them.
If I am waitlisted at my zoned school for kindergarten, does that mean I am guaranteed to get a seat in 1st grade? That’s what my zoned school told me.
Zoned schools are supposed to take all of the kids in their zone for 1st grade and above. BUT that has not always the case in crowded districts. According to the enrollment office, you must “express your interest” for 1st grade and if the school has room you will get an offer based on the order of this year’s waitlist.
All students who are still waitlisted for kindergarten will receive an alternate kindergarten offer in late May, at a school as close to their zoned school as possible, according to DOE officials. You may continue to stay on the waitlist even into the fall. And it will still count for 1st grade.
In order to accommodate as many children as possible, schools are being asked to take a full complement of 25 students per kindergarten class. And they are being asked to stop taking out of zone kids until all waitlisted students in the district are accommodated. At recent meetings with kindergarten families in districts 15 and 2, enrollment office officials stressed that there has already been "significant movement" on the waitlists.
Of course current kindergarten waiting lists include some kids who will opt for the gifted and talented spots – but you won’t know in a timely way whether your child will get one of those open places. Results of the G&T assessments will be out sometime in May with applications due back in late May. The DOE says that the late notification for G&T offers is a matter of its “vendor” having to handle a high volume of tests and test-takers.
There are other ways that waiting lists shrink -- families move, parents opt for a private or charter school, or get an offer off another waiting list.
Please note that you are guaranteed a spot in a kindergarten class even if it’s not in your zoned school.
Meanwhile, cheer up, think of this ordeal as practice for the next level of school choice and as a wake up call for your active participation in school district affairs. Get the parents association and the Community Education Council to make overcrowding a priority. Maybe a solution will emerge by the time 1st grade rolls around