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Pre-K spots STILL open, per DOE

Written by Helen Zelon Friday, 22 August 2008 13:39

The DOE has updated its pre-K registers and says there are half- and full-day spots open at some city schools. Have a look at their updated directory (PDF) to see what's available; registration begins next Thursday, the 28th, and wraps up on the first day of school.

Some parents have written in to say their kids didn't get placements or were offered pre-K seats far from their homes. The frustrations are real (and the time before school is short). Here's hoping that the Pre-K Borough Enrollment staff help resolve open questions (PDF) and that the DOE responds to the outspoken demand for seats in good schools by expanding pre-K opportunities.

Cash for school: The D.C. variation

Written by Helen Zelon Friday, 22 August 2008 08:46

Looks like Washington, D.C. schools head Michelle Rhee is borrowing another page from her mentor's playbook; see this story for her proposal, modeled on Klein's prototype, that students at 14 District middle schools earn up to $200 a month for steady attendance.

That's some kind of walking-around money for young teens and forces some tough questions: What do we teach kids when we pay them to show up? And where's the equity in rewarding some students but not others? What of the kids in schools who aren't getting paid to come to school -- do they strike for their 'due wages'? Badger their parents for allowances that match the city's incentive pay? The mind boggles.

Last-minute registration info. from the DOE

Written by Helen Zelon Friday, 22 August 2008 08:43

For students new to the city or returning to city schools after an out-of-school hiatus, the DOE is opening Registration Centers, beginning Monday August 25th. The centers will be open from 8am-3pm, but will be closed on Labor Day. A few caveats:

Registration centers can enroll all new high-school students and elementary and middle-school students without a zoned school. (Go to a registration center in the borough where you reside.) If you have a zoned elementary or middle school (call 311 or visit the DOE for information), register there beginning September 2, the first day of school.

Families of special-needs students who will be in collaborative-team-teaching (CTT), self-contained, or District 75 placements should visit their Borough Enrollment/Committee on Special Education office to register.

In order to register, parents and other guardians must bring proof of residence (see particulars here for what's required). Also bring your child's birth certificate (or passport), immunization record, and latest report card or transcript, if one is available. Special needs families are encouraged to bring their child's IEP and/or 504 Accommodation Program if they're available.

Registration centers will remain open until September 12th. And along with all the paperwork, don't forget to bring your child -- parents who show up sans students will not be permitted to complete the registration process.

Fewer dangerous city schools

Written by Helen Zelon Friday, 22 August 2008 08:32

The good news, from the DOE and the State, is that crime in the city's schools is on the wane: Of 25 city schools described as persistently dangerous by the State last year, 15 were removed from the list in light of improved safety and lower crime. The downside is that 11 city schools remain on the danger list. New York City also added more schools (six) to the state's list than any other area of the state.

In counterpoint, Comptroller William Thomson asserts that as many as one in five violent/criminal/safety incidents that occur in schools go improperly or incompletely reported. City leaders hope that a proposed amendment to the City Charter will improve school security by directing complaints of police misconduct to the Civilian Complaint Review Board (not the current norm) and requiring regular reporting on school violence to the DOE and NYPD.

In an article today, the Post documents a number of District 75 schools on the state's list -- D 75 schools enroll special need students with the most acute needs. Reports of persistent violence in D 75 schools, where staff ratios are far smaller than mainstream schools, raise difficult questions on all sides. And an AP story from am New York sets New York's improvements against a national canvas, noting without irony that the other 49 states document a total of 21 persistently dangerous schools compared to New York State's 19 (although reporting criteria vary from state to state).

Notably, despite pop-media visions of metal-detectors and box-cutter-wielding teens, "persistently dangerous" schools include elementary and middle schools, too. Under the provisions of NCLB, parents can request safety transfers for students enrolled at "dangerous" schools. But time is short before the start of school; those interested in seeking transfers should contact their school this week to explore the process.

Pre-K round ll news

Written by Helen Zelon Friday, 22 August 2008 08:27

Families who applied for pre-K seats in the second application round should have news by the end of this week; letters went out by mail yesterday afternoon, according to an email from the DOE's Andy Jacob.

Hark, budding Iagos and Hermiones

Written by Helen Zelon Wednesday, 20 August 2008 11:36

If your teen's looking for some last-minute summer culture, contact Mudbone about their Shakespeare workshops at the Public Theater (this week) and in the Bronx (this Sunday, the 24th

Money for high marks

Written by Helen Zelon Wednesday, 20 August 2008 05:20

In a signature transposition of business practice into the education environment, the Klein administration at the DOE has installed a range of mechanisms to pay people -- teachers, principals, and students, at selected schools -- for performance. Today's Times story challenges the merits of a $2 million REACH incentive program (for REwarding ACHievement). Guess what? The results are a mixed bag.

Turns out more high-school students took Advanced Placement exams, which can earn college credit for high-scoring students. Fewer students passed, but a fraction more scored at the highest level, 5.

Promoters beg more time to show stronger results; critics say there are better ways to spend that kind of (private) money, despite similar programs' rising popularity in schools nationwide. And you can bet that man-about-town Joel Klein will face sharp questions on the program in his three public appearances today, at a REACH briefing, an NAACP event in Brooklyn and a Teach for America welcome-teachers evening program. But a quote at the end of the story caught our eye: Kati Haycock, director of the DC-based Education Trust, says that "rich kids get paid for high grades all the time and for high test scores by their parents."

Do you pay your kids for good grades? Do you reward effort (trying hard) or outcomes (the grade itself)? And what's the line between motivation and bribe -- between incentive and payoff? We don't think parents have deep pockets for report-card shakedowns, but we could be wrong...

Charter chatter, Q & As

Written by Helen Zelon Tuesday, 19 August 2008 07:16

Citing competition as the key to success, Mayor Bloomberg says that pressure from charter schools force traditional public schools to improve. But advocates like Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters beg to differ: the small classes that are the charter norm are all too elusive in mainstream public education, despite long-fought battles. And one has to ask a question that's tough to ask aloud: Are middle-class parents fighting as hard for access to charters as families in neighborhoods long poorly served by city schools?

Maybe that's one of the questions that will be answered on the New York Times Charter School Q&A thread. And for families of high-school students and rising eighth-graders, who will be facing the high-school selection process this year, the DOE is hosting a Q&A with Evaristo Jimenez, head of high school enrollment.

As one commenter implored yesterday, speak up! If parents don't ask the hard questions to advance their child's education, who will?

News, local and other

Written by Helen Zelon Monday, 18 August 2008 08:05

It's safe bet that most readers saw yesterday's New York Times magazine cover story, detailing the vast educational experiment underway in New Orleans. In a similar vein, today at noon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will announce the opening of 18 new charter schools, which are subject to stringent oversight (read, lots of student testing to measure achievement) but not obliged to meet city-mandated curriculum guidelines -- or or bound by union rules, as most charter school faculties aren't UFT members.

Some schools, like the KIPP charters and Excellence Charter School of Bedford Stuyvesant, have great reputations, while others flounder and struggle. We'd love to hear from readers whose kids attend charter schools; are you happy with what and how your kids are learning? What's happening in your child's classroom?

And in the spirit of behind-the-headlines illumination, see this tiny AP item. Teachers in a Texas district get the official ok to pack heat in the classroom -- ostensibly, to discourage school violence. Anyone else get awfully nervous at this kind of news?

Pre-K round II: News?

Written by Helen Zelon Friday, 15 August 2008 07:58

A number of parents have been wondering whether others in the city have heard any placement news on their child's round II pre-K application.

DOE said they'd let folks know by now (mid-August), but many don't have news yet. To connect with other pre-K parents, visit our forums, click on the pre-K thread, and join the conversation. And let us know, please, where the news has arrived -- and where it hasn't.