After all the hype and hustle of searching for and getting into a New York City public high school, it can be disheartening to find out that for some kids and parents the search continues.
Not the search for another high school, although there are some who brave the arduous process again and transfer. I’m talking about the search to supplement what is often missing in even some of the most coveted high schools—from advanced math and science classes to art or a foreign language.
Savvy parents and kids will seek out everything from individual tutoring to after school art, music and dance programs to courses at CUNY colleges or elsewhere.
Wouldn’t it be nice if one public high school could have it all?
Many city schools have never really recovered from years of budget cuts that slashed programs and courses.
In others, the schools are already so specialized on topics like art, music and theater or science andengineering that they have no extra time, money or resources to put toward other areas. And not all high schools have sports teams or a musical.
Ask parents of graduates and older students, and you will get plenty of tips and hear stories about what they did to fill in gaps. You will learn what is free and what cost money, and what they fought for.
As the parent of a rising senior and a recent high school graduate, I’ve been down this road, as my kids found themselves shut out of foreign languages, on waiting lists for AP courses, without a lunch period or out of luck when it came to taking something like painting and drawing, creative writing or conversational Italian.
In some cases, such classes either didn’t exist or weren’t available. We were also hard-pressed to find support and help getting used to very large high schools and classes; some schools simply do a better job.
I once dreamed of a fantasy high school with “plenty of guidance counselors on hand to help with the usual array of teenage crisis, plus provide practical tips and advice on college admissions.’’
In addition, “there would be many interesting electives to choose from, and a huge emphasis on learning instead of simply memorizing. There would be less testing, more writing and more discussion—of history, current events, ethics and values.’’
You may not find all of this in a New York City public high school, but that doesn’t mean your kid can’t get an excellent education and have a terrific experience. My older, recent graduate did; my youngest still is. But there was some extra homework involved on my part as a parent.
As the school year begins, Insideschools.org invites you to share tips on supplementing the high school experience—ideas for outside programs, worthwhile college courses, after school experiences and tutoring are all welcome.
If your child already attends a high school that has everything he or she needs, consider yourself amazingly lucky.