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Teachers ask: "Is 3rd grade the new 7th grade?"

Written by Clara Hemphill Tuesday, 24 September 2013 12:13

The city and state education officials keep saying the new Common Core standards are much tougher. I got a glimpse of just how much tougher on a visit to a Queens elementary school this week.

PS 254 in Richmond Hill has adopted Pearson’s ReadyGen reading program, one of three programs recommended by the city and state. Now, at the very beginning of the school year, 2nd graders are being asked to read Charlotte’s Web. A terrific book, but one that the Scholastic Book Wizard website (which lists the difficulty of different texts) says is written at a 4th grade level. Fourth graders at PS 254 are reading The Tarantula Scientist, a non-fiction book about spiders, which Scholastic says is appropriate for children in the second half of 5th grade.

College Counselor: Can I campus-hop?

Written by Dr. Jane S. Gabin Monday, 23 September 2013 17:42

Q: I am a sophomore in high school, but I am already looking at colleges and think I want to transfer between several campuses. I was wondering if that is even possible – to attend not just one or two, but even three colleges without adding any extra years. If so, would I be able to transfer between any school I like, or would a certain school's transfer program limit my choices?

A: Not only are you thinking ahead, you are thinking TOO far ahead! Generally, I tell sophomores that it really is too early to start planning for college (other than being open-minded and making academics their #1 priority). But your question about transferring is something that concerns many students.

Ask Judy: Why is my child in an ICT class?

Written by Judy Baum Thursday, 19 September 2013 12:56

The school year is young and some parents are still puzzled by their child's class placement. This week's Ask Judy answers two questions: one about Integrated Co-teaching, and another about bridge classes.

Dear Judy,

My niece is in 1st grade. Her school sent a letter home yesterday stating that her class is an Integrated Co-teaching class. According to the UFT website "students with disabilities receive instruction alongside their nondisabled peers with special education support." What does this mean? Does this mean my niece has some type of special need? If a school determined that a child has special needs shouldn't parents be notified? Is this the normal that all classes are integrated? Please clarify.

Parents to PEP: Vote no to online K admissions

Written by Pamela Wheaton Thursday, 19 September 2013 12:11

Parents concerned about a new online kindergarten admissions system, announced by the Department of Education last week, are urging the Panel of Educational Policy (PEP) to vote no to funding the project at their meeting tonight, or to delay action until there has been time for public comment or the new mayor to take office.

"What is problematic here is they are centralizing kindergarten admissions and that’s a huge shift in policy," said Liz Rosenberg, a Brooklyn parent and founder of NYC Public, a parent advocacy group. "It was spun in a way that makes it sound like it’s simply bringing the process online. But, it’s moving from a school-based process where people walk into a school and talk to a real person to a process by which parents have to rank their schools online."

"It is a humongous policy shift and that’s not the way the press release reads," said Rosenberg.

Your kindergarten admissions questions answered

Written by Clara Hemphill Monday, 16 September 2013 17:44

Parents have been peppering us with questions ever since Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced last week that parents must to apply to kindergarten online starting in January. We don't have all the answers—and the Department of Education is still working out the details--but for now, this is what we know:

--Parents may apply to elementary schools, online or by phone, between January and March for admission in fall 2014. They may apply either to their zoned neighborhood school or to various schools of choice such as dual language programs or magnet schools.

--Parents who are interested in gifted and talented programs will have to sign up to have their child tested, but the Department of Education hasn't said when. That will be a separate application.

--Parents who are interested in charter schools will also apply online or in person—but that's yet another application.

Parents may apply to kindergarten online

Written by Clara Hemphill Thursday, 12 September 2013 22:17

Parents who want to take advantage of school choice in the fall of 2014 may apply to kindergarten online beginning in January, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced.

Parents still have the option of registering their child at their neighborhood school the old-fashioned way, in person, in the spring or even the first day of school in September. But for those who want to apply early to a crowded zoned school, or who want to apply to special programs or to schools outside their attendance zone, the online application spares parents the trouble of going to schools in person, the chancellor said. In addition, parents will be able to apply via telephone or by going in person to an enrollment center, according to the Department of Education website.

Ask Judy: May I take my child to India for two months?

Written by Judy Baum Tuesday, 10 September 2013 16:36

 Dear Judy,

I will be leaving on sabbatical to India next year, Sept and Oct. 2015. My child will be going into 6th grade. I am wondering if I can take her out for these two months and get an educational plan from the DOE, so upon our return, my child will have an easy transition back into her school?

Sabbatical mom

High School Hustle: What are we fighting for?

Written by Liz Willen Monday, 09 September 2013 11:38

No matter how you feel about the end of summer (I am always sad and counting the days until the next one), this week marks the start of what may be a four-year fight for parents of high school freshmen.

A fight to make sure they get the right classes, the right teachers and even a lunch period. A fight to make sure they get support for what could be a tough adjustment from middle school.

A fight to make sure they are ready for college; too many U.S. students are not.

For New York City public school parents, it's likely an ongoing battle -- even at some of the city's best and most sought-after high schools.

Big name schools getting new principals

Written by Pauline Zaldonis Friday, 06 September 2013 10:55

A few of the city’s best-known schools have new principals this year. 

This week, an email announced to parents at Bronx High School of Science that Jean Donahue, assistant principal for biology and physical sciences, isl taking over as the school’s interim acting principal. An alumna of the school, parent of a recent graduate, and former teacher at Bronx Science, Donahue knows the school well. She has a PhD and did cancer reasearch before she came to Bronx Science, where she lead the 3-year-research program. According to the Alumni Association’s facebook page, she has strong relationships with many faculty and with the Alumni Association. She will be taking over after former principal Valerie Reidy retired this summer after over a decade as the principal of Bronx Science. She stepped down amidst a high-profile investigation about incidents of hazing on the boy’s track team and after years of tension between teachers and administrators.

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts also has a new principal this fall. This summer long-time principal Kim Bruno announced that she was leaving LaGuardia for a job as the principal of the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles, California. Lisa Mars, former Assistant Principal of Language, Art and Music at Townsend Harris High School will take over as interim acting principal in her place. Parents at LaGuardia told Insideschools that they are hopeful that Mars will be a good leader for the school. However, according to members of the school’s Drama Parent Association, the transition is off to a difficult start since Mars still has not appointed a new assistant principal for the school’s Drama and Tech Studios, making them the only arts studios in the school without an AP.

At Brooklyn Latin founding principal Jason Griffiths announced this summer that he is leaving the school to lead Harlem Village Academy Charter School. Gina Mautschke, who has been with the school since its founding in 2006, is taking over as principal this fall. Mautschke began by teaching math at Brooklyn Latin until she was promoted to Assistant Head of Master of Operations in 2011, according to The Greenpoint Gazette. While Griffiths got high marks from teachers at Brooklyn Latin, according to the school’s Learning Environment Survey, he chose to leave after seven years, reportedly because of his frustration with dealing the city bureaucracy.

High schools aren’t the only ones with new principals this fall. Some of the city’s noteworthy elementary schools are also undergoing leadership changes this fall. This fall, former principal of PS 212 Midtown West, Dean Ketchum, will be starting as the new principal at Hunter College Elementary School.  According to the Hunter College website, Ketchum served as principal of Midtown West for nine years, where he got excellent reviews from teachers. Still no word on who is taking Ketchum’s place at Midtown West.


Important dates for middle school applications

Written by Aimee Sabo Wednesday, 04 September 2013 11:05

School may not have started yet, but incoming 5th-graders and their parents may want to begin thinking ahead. The Department of Education offered this calendar of important dates for those applying to middle school for the 2014-2015 school year: 

October 2013

 Directories distributed to families

October – December 2013

 Open houses at middle schools

October 8 – 17, 2013

5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

 District middle school fairs. Click here for a full list

November 2013

 Middle school applications distributed to families

December 2013

 Deadline for families to return middle school applications in all districts

December 2013 – February 2014

 Student interviews and testing at selected middle schools

February 2014

 New middle schools application packets distributed to families

March 2014 

 New middle school application deadline

May 2014

 Decision letters distributed to families

June 2014

 Appeal decision letters distributed to families 


To begin your research, read more about the middle school application process, or check out these Inside schools videos:

"How to Apply to Middle School"

"What to Look for on a School Tour"