Insideschools staff

Insideschools staff

Our friends and colleagues at Advocates for Children are putting out a call to action to protect early intervention programs for young children. Early Intervention provides evaluations and services to infants and toddler who have developmental delays or disabilities and their families. 

Governor Cuomo's 2012-2013 Executive budget proposal would restructure Early Intervention, linking those services to health insurance coverage. In a statement, Advocates says:"While we support the goal of requiring private health insurance comopanies to contribute to the cost of EI, we are concerned about parts of the proposal."

Among other things, the proposal calls for a representative from an insurance company to be on the team that develops a child's Individualized Family Service Plan. It would also require the child to be evaluated and served by evaluators and service providers within the child's insurance network. 

Advocates for Children is calling on concerned parents to call or e-mail their state legislators to express their concerns that these changes would would make it harder to access high-quality EI services.

See the Advocates for Children website for more information. A sample email letter is after the jump.

Wondering what to do if you, or your 8th-grader, did not get assigned a high school in the first round? Want to find out your options? Need suggestions for a great high school that has room?

Join’s Clara Hemphill, Jacqueline Wayans and Pamela Wheaton for a Twitter chat on high school admissions on Tuesday, March 6, from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM. We welcome guidance counselors and principals to chime in with suggestions too.

Using our @Insideschools Twitter account, we’ll field admissions questions and share advice with 8th and 9th graders, parents, teachers and parent coordinators. We encourage you to share your experiences and to help identify high schools that may be overlooked. We'll provide tips for navigating the second round of high school admissions.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012 14:05

Teacher rated "Below Average" speaks out

Vasilios Biniarls is a math teacher at a Queens middle school program for gifted students, The Academy at PS 122. He wrote to Insideschools after his name was published in the press as a "Below Average" teacher. Here's his view. Insideschools will not be publishing or linking to the Teacher Data Reports.

The recent release of NYC's Teacher Data Reports (TDR) has stirred up a wide range of responses from all of the relevant stakeholders in our city's school system. As a teacher whose name was published in the local media with a corresponding characterization of "Below Average," I am upset, angry, even demoralized. After a great deal of personal reflection, I feel compelled to reach out to the parents of the students I teach.

For me, it is important for people to know that I teach in the same school that I attended as a child; it is the same school that both of my siblings went to as well. As three children of immigrant parents, we owe a debt of gratitude to our alma mater, and I strongly feel that the experiences that we had at P.S. 122 were instrumental in paving the way to a life of higher education.  I would do anything for my school.

Wednesday, 01 February 2012 10:50

Insideschools event will be streaming live

Our Feb. 7 Insideschools event "Applying to Kindergarten" is fully booked. All RSVPs are now going on a waitlist. Everyone who is on the waitlist is welcome to come at 8 p.m. for a Q&A session. And, we'll be live-streaming the event on If you would like Insideschools to host more workshops, please tell our co-sponsor, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.  You may email her office at

Clara Hemphill, along with the Insideschools staff members and other school experts, will offer guidance about what to look for in an elementary school, how and when to register, and how to explore your options if you're not happy with the schools in your neighborhood.

We'll cover gifted and talented programs, magnet schools, unzoned schools, special education and options for children learning to speak English.

Panelists will include Sonya hooks, senior director of the Education Department's charter school office, Robin Aronow of School Search NYC, Randi Levine, staff attorney at Advocates for Children, and Lainie Leber of the DOE's magnet program office.

A Q&A session will follow the presentation at 8 p.m.

The event is co-sponsored by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School.

You can post your questions in comments below.

(Updated 2/6/12)

Tuesday, 31 January 2012 10:45

Schools opening, closing & expanding

On February 9, the Panel for Education Policy will meet to vote on the future of the 25 schools up for phase-out and closure. Hearings are held at the schools; in some cases parents and students are protesting outside the schools prior to the meetings. Protests generally begin at 5 p.m.; hearings at 6 p.m.

As schools are phased out and closed, others open in their place. Details about some of the proposed new schools can be found on the DOE's website.

Several popular schools are planning to expand: PS 8 in Brooklyn Heights wants to add a middle school. Since there is no room in the elementary building, the proposed site is a nearby high school: Westinghouse. PS 249, an early childhood school in Flatbush which serves many youngsters from outside the zone, will become a K-5 school, only accepting zoned students. In Manhattan, the Special Music School, a citywide program for exceptionally talented musicians, wishes to expand to become a K-12 school. To do so, it would move into space vacated by Manhattan Theatre Lab, in the Martin Luther King, Jr. building. Below is a rundown on upcoming hearings.

Thursday, 26 January 2012 13:41

Small high schools are better, study claims

Teens who attend a new small high school have a better chance of graduating than their peers at larger, established schools, according to a study released yesterday by the research firm MDRC.

The study compares students who were accepted by lottery to one of 105 new schools to those who applied to the same school but did not get in. Fnded by the Gates Foundation, the study looked at students who entered a new small school -- mostly in Brooklyn and the Bronx -- between 2005 and 2008. It found that "67.9 percent of the students who entered small high schools in 2005 and 2006 graduated four years later, compared with 59.3 percent of the students who were not admitted and instead went to larger schools," the New York Times reports.

Education advocates say that while many of the new small schools opened by the Bloomberg administration post better results than the large, failing schools they replaced, not all of them are successful. In fact, the city is moving to close some of them.

"We do know that overall the small schools are successful. We also know that some of them are terrible failures. What we don't know is what makes some of them successful and some of them failures," Insideschools' Clara Hemphill told NY1 reporter Lindsey Christ. "The small schools did start out with a lot of energy. The question is whether that can be sustained."

Read more on NY1, GothamSchools, and SchoolBook.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012 08:00

Charter school woes

Financial mismanagement and low performance have likely doomed a handful of charter schools. The city announced Monday it would move to close Peninsula Preparatory Academy in Far Rockaway, Queens and Williamsburg Charter High School in Brooklyn. Peninsula students would be assigned to local elementary schools. Williamsburg students could be left scrambling for placements for September. Williamsburg's charter network, Believe High Schools, has been under investigation by the state Attorney General's office. Now the state says it will try and revoke the charters for the two other schools in the Believe network.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012 16:54

Upcoming school closing hearings

The Department of Education set dates for another round of school closing hearings. On February 9th, the Panel for Education Policy will meet to vote on the future of the 25 schools up for closure.

Here are the dates for the next two weeks:

Monday, 09 January 2012 10:56

Middle class scores fell under Bloomberg

Rachel Monahan of the N.Y. Daily News reports: While Mayor Bloomberg has touted gains for the poorest students, middle-income kids' test scores have failed to improve during his administration.

Monday, 19 December 2011 16:50

Poll: Should teachers give holiday homework?

Winter recess begins on December 24th. Some students will head home with a bookbag full of holiday homework, while others will have a lighter load.

In this week's poll, we'd like to know how you feel about teachers assigning homework over the holiday break. Is it important to keep the momentum of the learning process moving during that downtime? Or, do kids deserve a break?

Vote now to let us know how you feel about holiday homework. Kids and teachers are welcome to vote too! Let's hear your reasons, for and against.