This is blog is not about education. This is a personal message that is all tied up with memory and family. The house that my mother and grandmother were born in (which we do not own anymore), has been for sale for quite a while and I am hoping that someone who will care for it will buy it. It is a 300 year old Dutch stone house close to Kingston (closer to Stone Ridge and Hurley) on land with a creek and a small pretty waterfall. The price is very low for a house of this quality because the sale is complicated and the house needs work. We don’t want the bank to take it or for it to stand unoccupied and degraded. There was a lot of love there.
Those of you who live in the part of Brooklyn Heights located in D15, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, you need to be aware of this now (zones 261, 29, 38, 58, 32 15 and 676). I don’t want to hear -and I will- about how you were surprised by the rezoning plan in the fall and how fast this went down. It is way more transparent than I have seen with previous rezoning, with much more attempt at public engagement. Engage now! When you drag your feet, it is not their fault. There have been three public meetings so far (since April) and there will be several more, gathering parent feedback as well as informing the neighborhood. If you aren’t participating or staying aware, I don’t want to hear complaining.
Whether you are there or not, one of these things is going to go down. It would be better if you had a say. You may not get what you want, but you may get what you need - Mick JaggerRead More
It is hard to really embrace this thought, and even harder to convince your child about it, but there is no other path.
Hard work should ‘pay off’, but there are plenty of times when it doesn’t. There are lots of people who don’t deserve things that get them. Life isn’t fair. If you are expecting a pat on the head and a key to the city for going the extra mile, you will often be disappointed.
The only true thing is that hard work- the satisfaction, knowledge and character that comes from it, is its own reward. The prize is the knowledge that you accomplished something meaningful, that is actively making you a more informed, more skilled, better person. It is almost impossible not to wish for the glittering prize (the admiration, the acknowledgement, the envy), but in the end, it often disappoints.
If you hold out the carrot of a plum placement as reward for a job well done, there is plenty of reason for kids to stop trying at the first disappointment.
I LOVE Devorah Heitner! Here is an email that I got from her:
I've witnessed this far too many times: parents and educators trying to keep kids in line with threats about college admissions. This is totally misguided.
Here are a few good reasons not to do this:
1) It isn't true: 99% percent of the dumb things kids do wouldn't rise to the attention of admissions officers: silly selfies, bad words in group texts, being annoying, inappropriate, or over-disclosing. We may wish for our kids to eschew these behaviors, but we are lying if we say they will keep them out of college.
2) It isn't so important: Getting into a highly selective college is no guarantee of a great life/career. Attending a less selective college, trade school or community college could be part of a path to a great life/career.
3) It is not the point: We should teach our kids not cheat in school, not to be unkind on social media, and not to make cruel jokes--because we want them to be an ethical person, a trustworthy friend etc.
It's Not Just About College Admissions is in Washington Post's On Parenting section today.
This letter was sent to me by my good buddy Allison Shillingford. Allison is an African American mom who lives in Brooklyn. She runs a not for profit called, Navigate the Maze:
Navigate the Maze to Achievement, Inc. (NTMA) is a non-profit, educational enrichment program that prepares black students in Brooklyn for the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) and supports the students socially and academically while in high school.
In 2019, out of the 5,488 black students who took the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) to attend New York City specialized high schools, only 190 of the students received offers. In one of the worst years for black enrollment in specialized high schools, an emerging non-profit in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, demonstrates that black students are capable of passing the SHSAT. Navigate the Maze to Achievement (NTMA) had 20 students take the SHSAT, and seven received offers. About 3.96% of Black students citywide passed the SHSAT, while 35% of NTMA students passed. To put this into perspective, 1 in every 27 black students who received an offer to a specialized high school is an NTMA student.Read More
I have been sitting in my tiny office spinning with rage about the lazy conversations that I hear around school quality. Let me say right up front this blog is NOT about equity. I think schools are better when they are filled with diverse learners and students of every race and class. Period.
This is about something else: how people talk about the elite schools that everyone is focused on. I think that the underlying premise is false and until we understand the schools with a clear eye - WE CAN’T SOLVE THE ULTIMATE PROBLEM of “school quality” which is poverty.Read More
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” - Leo Rosten, Emerson or Thomas Carlyle, whoever…they were right.Read More
Well, high school placement is likely to be a couple weeks late. Without confirmation, it seems like notices are probably going out on or around March 18. If you applied through MY SCHOOLS, you will likely be notified through MY SCHOOLS.
Here is the thing. Life is uncertain. You can prepare and calculate and hope. It is hard not to fall in love with one place or another, but you can’t engineer your placement. Your mission is to prepare your child (and yourself, cause you have worked hard for this!) There is no doubt that you will be disappointed for any number of reasons, possibly just because there has been so much effort and angst.
This is what I hope students will consider when they get their placement:
This school is all potential.
It will be what I make of it.
I don’t know those kids, but my new best friend for life is somewhere in that crowd.
My first love is probably in there too.
There will be a teacher that I will never forget in that building.
There will be some uncontrollable laughter.
There will be something that seemed nearly impossible that I will conquer.
I will likely be sorry to leave at the end of it all.
You can focus on what you desire, but you don’t always get it, and you might even be sorry if you did, because you would have missed the wonderful thing that appeared when you least expected it. Go out and find it.
“Regents exams measure student achievement in high school-level courses. In order to graduate from high school, students must pass five Regents exams in the following subject areas: English Language Arts, a math, a science, social studies, and any additional Regents exam or another option approved by the State. Student may also earn an Advanced Regents diploma if they pass certain additional Regents exams in math and science, as well as any NYC Language Other Than English exam.” - from the DoE websiteRead More
You guys know that I am generally very positive about this plan. I feel that it will accelerate the small momentum that has already started in a majority of the up and coming middle schools in the district and I don’t think that it will hurt the academic rigor at the popular programs. For the most part, it will improve their school cultures and your children’s middle school experience. I think that it will likely work because of the sheer volume of quality middle school programs in D15. I have been saying this in every forum I can find, but you don’t have to trust me…Read More
District 15 has gone through a long and public process to work toward a plan to bring more balanced diversity to district middle schools. They have engaged parents in the planning process in many ways over years. You can read the plan here.
Why do I care? First, parents come to me very fearful about what the future holds for their students and I want to explain what they may be able to expect. Second, it is personal.Read More
First, apologies for the ALL CAPS and bold face. I am on my last nerve as I know you are. I love you guys. I want you to all get your heart's desire, but you all won't, and sometimes your heart's desire is not what may actually be best in the end. It is your right to complain about the stress and uncertainty (and everything else about the process), but don't do it to me (I can't do anything about it anyway). I am just the lady with the flash light. I am a pragmatist to my bones. When Armageddon comes, I don't see any point in shaking my fist at a vengeful God. I will not waste any time as I look for fresh water.
Hunker down, keep your heads, be kind to each other (including the unpopular schools and the professionals and children there) look for the goodness in your neighbors (and it is out there in EVERY SCHOOL) when the dark days come. Wow, I think I need a couple days off...
Dec. 1 is the deadline for middle and high school applications. This blog could be written for prek and kindergarten families as well because the ranking "strategy" is always the same.
RANK SCHOOLS IN THE ORDER THAT YOU LIKE THEM. YOU ARE NOT DISADVANTAGED BY RANKING A SCHOOL LOWER IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT AS MUCH.
There are lots of reports about locations for new public or charter school programs. While the news may be exciting, for many families they won't be open in time for your child to access them. Many of them are for 300 seat schools. Just so you know, that is a tiny school. Just because it is a new school site, doesn't mean that it will be a new school, or that it will mean rezoning in the neighborhood. There are several schools looking for new locations to expand; International Charter School of NY (D13, looking for room to grow to 5th grade), Success Charter Cobble Hill (D15, looking for room for their middle school), Arts and Letters (their community and their co-located school, PS 20 have preferred that the schools each have their own space), We just can't predict what the space will be used for ahead of time. Remember PS 133 used to be a zoned school in D13 - it is now an unzoned D13 school that serves both D13 and D15. Lots of things can happen.Read More
I was walking home from a consult the other day and I had a small epiphany. Those of you that go through this process may have a hard time agreeing with me. The process isn't for the faint of heart, but I had a moment of clarity when I just felt wildly excited by the variety of opportunity we have in the high schools in the city. For a moment, it felt like a treasure trove of wonders. I wish that I could hold on to that vision and share it - seeing the opportunity and not the fear and the hassle. The high school process is all of that- complicated, frustrating, scary, difficult - and astonishing.Read More
This is from Judith Kafka, Associate Professor, Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College. This information would be wildly interesting and informative to anyone trying to improve the middle school application process. Would you consider participating?Read More
It has been pretty clearly proven that diversity improves the educational experience and outcome for all kids. How to get it is a tricky and possibly never ending conundrum, but a worthy one.Read More
This is what happens at kindergarten placement time:
Expect to be placed in your zoned school (even if you have not ranked it on your application). That is generally what happens every year. A few people who wanted a school other than their zoned school will be lucky and the DoE's mission is to place you in the school that you have ranked high on your application, but the match also takes into consideration, your geographic and sibling priorities and that is the reason that you may not have gotten your heart's desire if it is out of zone.Read More