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New York City’s Education Funders Research Initiative asked our parent organization, the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School, to identify key priorities for education reform under Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. On Thursday, the Center for New York City Affairs released the results: a new report called "Building Blocks for Better Schools: How the Next Mayor can Prepare New York's Students for College and Careers," co-authored by Insideschools founder Clara Hemphill. The paper analyzes the successes and failures of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s education initiatives—and proposes six key areas on which the next administration should focus attention and resources.

A top priority: Make sure young children can read. This is a first, crucial building block for school reform efforts.

Other priorities include:

  • Use the Common Core to build a true, skills-based college preparatory curriculum.
  • Revise the accountability system to use a wider range of measures, and to be more responsive to schools and families.
  • Keep principals' control of hiring, budgets and curriculum—but provide them greater supervision and support.
  • Strengthen neighborhood schools and create new structures to connect all schools—neighborhood, magnet and charters alike—within given geographic areas.
  • Build early and ongoing support for college and career guidance.

Read more about "Building Blocks for Better Schools" and download the paper on CenterNYC.org

 

 

You're invited: Free screening of "Mandela"

Written by Insideschools staff Friday, 22 November 2013 11:11

Teachers, students and parents are invited to a free screening of "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" hosted by the American Federation of Teachers and The Weinstein Company.

Screenings will take place in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan starting at 4pm on Monday, Nov. 25.

Groups, individuals and classrooms are invited to attend!

RSVP to Brandon.Piper@cegny.com or call (646) 254-6718, indicating which screening you'd like to attend. 

The film also has a free educators guide if teachers wish to engage students in activities or discussions around the film.
http://weinsteinco.com/mandela-education/

The film is screening at:

UA Court Street 12
106 Court St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201

UA Kaufman Astoria Cinemas 14
35-30 38th St.
Astoria, NY 11101

AMC Loews Lincoln Square
1998 Broadway
New York, NY 10023

Introducing the HS directory for your pocket

Written by Anna Schneider Thursday, 21 November 2013 12:57

The official high school directory is essential reading for 8th graders applying to high school in New York City. But, at 565 pages, the directory can be cumbersome, especially for kids already lugging pounds of textbooks. 

Now, we've created a mobile site that will get this information to kids where they are most likely to use it--on their smartphones. 

Our new iPhone/Android mobile website, http://insideschools.org/sage, combines all of the information in the official high school directory with our own reviews (based on our school visits) in a platform easily accessible on your smartphone, tablet or computer.

Ask Judy: Kindergarten questions answered

Written by Judy Baum Thursday, 21 November 2013 12:40

Dear Judy,

I am getting concerned about applying to kindergarten. How does the new system work?  I like my zoned school, it has a great reputation, but because of that it is very popular and there is always an overflow of kindergarten applications. What happens if it is the only school I choose and my child does not get a place? 

Anticipating KG Mom

Dear Anticipating KG Mom,

Under the new Kindergarten Connect system, which is managed by a vendor not the schools themselves, parents rank up to 20 schools in order of preference. You apply between Jan. 13- Feb. 14, filling out an online application, calling 718-935-2400, or visiting a borough enrollment office from 8am-3pm, Monday to Friday. If you go to your zoned school, or any other school, the staff will advise you on how to file the application, but they won’t do it for you.

Last minute tips on applying to high school

Written by Pamela Wheaton Wednesday, 20 November 2013 15:39

High school applications are due on Dec. 2, the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, for 8th graders, and 9th graders who want to go to a different school next year.

Still undecided where to apply? Check out our new Insideschools mobile website on your smartphone. You can search by borough, subway line, middle school grades and/or keyword, sifting through hundreds of high schools to find the best matches.

Here are some tips for 8th graders and their families to mull over after the turkey is eaten.

If your child is one of the 210,000 students in grades 3-8 who scored a Level 1 or 2 on last spring's state ELA or math exams, you should know that schools are offering families 30 minute one-on-one conferences with their child's teachers from now through January.

The $5 million Department of Education initiative was prompted by advocates from the Coalition of Educational Justice (CEJ), said Megan Hester, a community organizer with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform which works with CEJ. 

Hester said that when scores came out last summer some CEJ parents wondered whether they should be alarmed at their child's low test scores and what they could be doing about it.

Share your experience with school busing

Written by Pamela Wheaton Tuesday, 19 November 2013 16:22

This information just in from our friends at Advocates for Children:

"The NYC DOE's Office of Innovation is interviewing parents regarding their experience with the DOE's busing system for students receiving special education services in NYC.  The purpose of these interviews is a collaboration between parents, the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) and the Division of Students with Disabilities to improve the special education busing experience for children.

Interviews will take place on Wednesday, November 20th between 4:30 & 6:00 PM at 10 Jay Street in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Interviews will last approximately 30 minutes and parent names will be kept confidential so people can feel comfortable speaking candidly. 

No RSVP is needed.  Just come to share your experiences."

There have been the usual horror stories this year, of children spending hours on the bus and buses that never arrived. Some buses even dropped off children at the wrong stop. If you have a tale to tell, here is your chance to tell it.

 

 

Special ed meetings for 2014 kindergarteners

Written by Aimee Sabo Tuesday, 19 November 2013 13:55

It seems like only yesterday that I was worrying myself sick about how my four-year-old son with special needs would make the leap from preschool to kindergarten. (For the record, he’s five now and doing fabulously!) For any child, the move to “big kid school” is a huge transition for the whole family, but for those of us whose children will be receiving special services, the process is fraught with that much more paperwork, research and worry. 

Your local kindergarten orientation meeting is a good place to start learning about how services transition from preschool to kindergarten. During the first three weeks of December, the Department of Education is hosting citywide meetings in all boroughs for families of students with disabilities entering kindergarten in September 2014. Here are a few meeting tips from someone who has been there:

Middle school applications due Dec. 13

Written by Pamela Wheaton Friday, 15 November 2013 15:36

Fifth graders applying to middle school should get their applications beginning Nov. 18 at their elementary schools, according to the chancellor's letter to principals this week. 

Applications must be completed and returned to elementary school guidance counselors by Friday, Dec. 13. If you're applying to charter schools, those applications aren't due until April 1.

Still don't know what schools to apply to? Check your district's directory for a list of schools. Schools that are open to kids throughout the district, borough or city are listed in the back of each directory. Read our reviews on noteworthy middle schools. 

And, be sure to visit the school before applying. There is a list of tours and open houses on the Department of Education's website. You can watch our videos for more information on how to apply and what to look for on a school tour.

Apply to kindergarten Jan. 13-Feb. 14

Written by Pamela Wheaton Friday, 15 November 2013 12:22

Families will have just one month to use the new online system to apply to kindergarten for 2014, according to admissions dates posted by the Department of Education today.  Parents of children born in 2009 may apply online, on the phone to a central DOE number or in person at an enrollment office between Jan. 13-Feb.14.  Not only is the online admissions process, called Kindergarten Connect, a change from previous years, but the application period is earlier and shorter. Last year families applied in person at schools between Jan. 22- March 1

The shift in timeline caught some elementary schools and parents off guard, according to DNAInfo which yesterday reported that many schools have scheduled tours and open houses in February and March, after applications are due. "If this hasn't been coordinated with school tours, how can you make an educated decision?" a parent said to DNAInfo.

Families may list up to 20 schools on the application and will be given one placement in April. All public schools will participate in the new admission system, even those that are unzoned. Admission priorities will remain the same as previous years, the DOE said, with zoned students given priority to their zoned school.