Magical thinking is good in literature and bad in school ranking.
- If you would like to attend your zoned school- LIST IT!
- If you would absolutely not attend your zoned school, don't list it (but you better have a back up plan). If your zoned school is not popular and if you don't list it and you don't get lucky with your other choices, you will still probably be placed there- but no guarantees, ever.
- Listing 20 schools does not improve your chances of getting in somewhere. Listing schools that take your priority (outside of zone, outside of district, etc.) does. If you list 20 schools that you have NO chance of getting into - you won't get in. Magical thinking will only disappoint. If you rank 2 schools that you have a good chance of getting into, you probably will (especially if one of those 2 is your zoned school).
- The DoE is not out to screw you. Give up the conspiracy theories, as juicy as they are. This is a bloodless algorithm that doesn't take into account the favored or least favored tastes in each little neighborhood in the city. It is a big city, get over yourself. This is a giant, ham-fisted (yet elegant) placement system. Read this superb article in The NY Times by Tracy Tullis (thank you Tracy!!!) about the algorithm for HS placement (same algorithm they are using for K, with geographic priority instead of the schools' lists being the matching factor)
- Your ranking is important only to tell the DoE where you would prefer to go. How many times can we all say this - DON'T STRATEGIZE. Rank schools in the order that you like them. Even those guys from Duke, MIT and Stanford said so. Ranking a school first DOES NOT give you priority over another person with the same geographic priority that puts it further down their list (also see Tracy's great article).
- You will automatically be placed on a wait list for any school that you ranked higher than the school you were placed in. The wait lists DO move, more in some districts than others, but there is definite shifting and it happens late in the spring, summer and EVEN into the fall (usually stops mid to late Oct.). This is not about being the "early bird". This is about being the LATE BIRD. The bird who is left after all other birds have flown.
- You will attend the LAST school that you pre-register at. You won't be simultaneously registered at a bunch of schools and decide later (don't be greedy). Each successive registration cancels the one before it, so they can offer that seat to someone else. You will be pre-registered at one school at a time if you are lucky on the wait lists.
- There is no point at which the DoE traps you into a choice. As long as a school offers you a seat you can consider accepting or rejecting it. If a school offers you a seat, you don't have to take it. They are really, really leaving the choices open to you, even quite long after school begins! It doesn't matter that you may hear about your Kindergarten Connect choice before G&T, etc.
- There are way way way more seats (seats for all!) at kindergarten than there are at prek. Your experience or luck in the prek choice will NOT be the same for k.
If you remain calm, pragmatic and patient, you will end up happy. People who panic, drown. People who make fear based choices get the school they deserve. People who can't wait, miss opportunities. You need a relative tolerance for uncertainty to make the NYC school system work. Many choices can be paralyzing and navigating this requires some fortitude, but there is also great opportunity, variety, diversity and talent out there. If you can make it here, you will make it anywhere. Courage. And happy hunting.
I am giving the last Intro to Public School: Prek and K talk of the season on Jan. 26 7pm at Hootenanny Art House in the south slope.
Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1045290