Insideschools staff

Insideschools staff

The city has released details of its plan to build new juvenile justice facilities, which will allow New York City kids convicted of breaking the law to stay closer to their homes and families, rather than being sent to lockups run by the state.

One of the criticisms of the current system is that city kids don't get credit for the schoolwork they do while serving time in state facilities, since the schools aren't accredited by the Department of Education. Many students find it very hard to re-enter schools upon their return to the city and opening centers locally would offer continuity to their education. The city plans to operate new schools for kids in the city-controlled lockups, starting in September of this year.

Read Abigail Kramer's story about the plan on the new Child Welfare Watch news blog at the Center for New York City Affairs.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 14:52

Using exams to judge teachers, schools

Sparks flew at the Brooklyn Secondary School for Collaborative Studies on Monday night as the chief academic officer defended the city's heavy reliance on standardized exams to judge schools, principals and teachers.

Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky was under fire all night from the crowd in the packed school auditorium in Carroll Gardens. The two principals on the panel who said they believed the testing regime had damaged education in city schools.

The former head of the Office of Accountability kept his cool and acknowledged that the current state exams did not do a good job at measuring "critical thinking," but he denied that the exams were overly influential and said  that better tests were coming. Why, then, has the Bloomberg administration made such a public spectacle of the A through F grading system, which is mostly based on student progress on the exams, if they aren't very good? Polakow-Suransky never answered that question.

You can read more about the event, which was moderated by Insideschools reporter Meredith Kolodner, on  GothamSchools and SchoolBook. Watch a video clip of the meeting from the Grassroots Education Movement:

Some Manhattan parents are scrambling to stop a plan to move 150 Harlem Success Academy 5th-graders into a building on the Upper West Side. Critics fear the plan could make the Success Academy students, most of whom live in Central and East Harlem, eligible to attend Upper West Side middle schools once they reach 6th grade. Others say the move may jeopardize federal magnet programs at two of the small elementary schools in the building.

E-mail alerts about the proposal went out Thursday to many parents of students in District 3, which spans Manhattan’s west side from 59th to 122nd streets.  The e-mails urged parents to attend a March 15 public hearing and speak out in opposition to the plan.

According to one e-mail, the Harlem Success Academy students are largely from Districts 4 and 5, but the plan would transfer them into District 3 during 5th grade. “Once they are housed in a D3 building, they become eligible for D3 middle schools,” read the e-mail. “Our strong D3 middle schools could become an appealing option for these out-of-district families at a time when we are already facing a serious middle school seat crunch.”

Monday, 12 March 2012 17:03

School starts on September 6 in 2012

The first day of school for students next fall will be Thursday, Sept. 6, according to the Department of Education calendar now online. Classroom teachers begin two days early, on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Pre-K and kindergarten students begin with shortened school days. The first full day for kindergarten students is Friday, Sept. 7; for pre-K, it is Monday, Sept. 10.

The school year will end with a half-day on Wednesday, June 26.

The calendar lists dates for all school holidays as well as professional development dates for teachers when students will not attend. The 3rd-8th grade math and reading test dates are not including. They come out on a different calendar.

At the March 3-4 Round 2 high school fair we collected information about open houses and auditions for some schools that still have space.  This is an incomplete list. Best to contact the schools' parent coordinators or website to confirm and find out about others.

If you have information about a school we have missed, please add it in comments.


Bronx High School Fair: Multiple schools including the new School for Tourism and Hospitality March 7, 5:30 - 7:30 Alfred Smith HS Campus

ROADS Charter High Schools (for older students)  Family Information Session: March 5, 6–7 p.m. PS 214, 1970 West Farms Roads


Brooklyn Institute for Liberal Arts info session at Washington Irving High School (School to be located at 600 Kingston Avenue), March 8, 5:30 p.m.

Fort Hamilton vocal and music program. To schedule an audition, call 718-748-1537, ext 1121.

Park Slope Collegiate, Open House, Wednesday, March 14 7-8:30 p.m. 237 7th Ave., 4th floor. RSVP to Angela at 718-832-4319.

ROADS Charter High Schools (for older students)  Family Information Session, March 7, 6-7 p.m., 1495 Herkimer 


Academy for Software Engineering, Info session @ Washington Irving High School, 40 Irving Place, March 8, 5:30 p.m. March 6, 6-8 p.m. at Google 76, 9th Avenue; March 10, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at NYU, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, 251 Mercer Street, Room 102; March 13 , 6-8 p.m.  at NYU, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, 251 Mercer Street, Room 102

Esperanza Preparatory Academy info session @ Washington Irving High School,  40 Irving Place (School located at 240 East 109th Street), March 8 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 10, 9:30 a.m.

Harvest Collegiate High School, info session @ Washington Irving High School, 40 Irving Place (School to be located at 34 West 14 Street) March 8, 5:30 p.m.

High School for Excellence and Innovation, Open House, March 6,7,8, 12 & 13, 3:30 - 6:30 p.m.

High School of Art and Design: Audition date: March 17, 8:30 a.m. Architectural Design and Film/Video Production Bring your portfolio, latest report card, letters of recommendation, sharpened pencils, an eraser and "a winning attitude."

The High School of Fashion Industries: Audition online or on these dates: March 9, Open House 4-5 p.m., auditions at 5 p.m.; Monday, March 12, Open House, 4-5 p.m., auditions begin at 5 p.m. Audition online at

NEST+M Upper school entrance exam dates for incoming 9th and 10th grades: Thursday, March 8 (4:30-6 p.m.) or Monday, March 12 (4:30-6 p.m.) To register, email student's name, parent/guardian name, address, phone number, email address, exam date and indicate if student has testing accommodations.

Union Square High School for Health Services info session @ Washington Irving High School, 40 Irving Place, March 8, 5:30 p.m.


Bayside High School Music Performance and Production Program: Auditions, Sunday, March 11, 2:30-5:30. Questions? Email Music Program Director William Gagstetter at (No openings in zoned program.)

Hillside Arts and Letters Academy: Open House March 6, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Jamaica campus.

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.