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New PTA website for parents launches

Written by Pamela Wheaton Wednesday, 25 September 2013 14:42

PTAlink, a website which aims to connect public school parent organizations and serve as a hub of information for parent groups across New York City, launched today. 

The online resource contains information on parent leadership opportunities, PTA development and administration, fundraising, and parent-run school activities and events. Still to come is a forum where PTA officers and members can ask each other questions and share information, say its co-founders Lisa Ableman and Rachel Fine, parents at PS 321 in Brooklyn who conceived of the idea nearly two years ago after getting support from City Councilperson Brad Lander.

They have collected and posted examples of best practices and resource materials from PTAs around the city and are reaching out to parents for more such success stories. For example, PTAlink features a school garden in Boerum Hill along with a "how to" guide on creating a garden, including names of supportive community organizations. 

There is also nuts and bolts information about parent rights, the difference between a PTA and PA, Title 1 schools, available help from the Department of Education and more.

Still to come: a mentoring program, pairing experienced PTA officeres with newer ones.  

"We realized that parent leaders across the city were reinventing the wheel in a range of areas -- and while many PTAs were looking for a way to find out what other organizations were doing, there were plenty of successful PTAs that were willing to share their best practices," Ableman said in an email. "We developed PTAlink to help parent organizations in two ways: as a comprehensive source of information, and an effective way for schools to learn from each other. In the end, we're hoping this leads to a community of parent organizations that work together."

Check out the website here and add your ideas and feedback. On offer is a free book on fundraising, Beyond the Bake Sale.

 

Wiggle-room for late birthday kids?

Written by Pamela Wheaton Tuesday, 24 September 2013 12:28

There's good news for parents who don't want to send their kids to kindergarten before their 5th birthday. The Department of Education is proposing a change in enrollment allowing for more flexibility in the placement of five and six year-olds. In the past, the DOE has been rigid in its rule that a child's birth year determine his grade placement.

The change to the city's enrollment regulation gives district superintendents the final say in deciding whether a child who turns six during the calendar year must enter 1st grade or whether kindergarten - or a different grade - is more appropriate. Parents will have to provide medical, or other documentation, making the case for placement in a different grade.

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.
Aunt

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.