stuff to keep in mind for middle school search 2019

stuff to keep in mind for middle school search 2019

Tours and open houses are booking now. Go to schools’ individual websites for info. There is a mania for naming schools things that often has nothing to do with what is going on in the school. Don’t judge too quickly by the name. Also, all of these schools have to cover the same curriculum and they only have three years to do it. They will often only talk about the stuff that makes them different. MOST of what they do will be THE SAME. It is different deal at high school where the schools can wrap up the basics required for a NYS diploma in a couple of years and you spend significant time doing AP’s, IB’s, College Now classes, electives or pre-career classes. Middle schools are more the same than they are different!

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the latest on the D15 rezoning

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First, this map, which you can see in detail in the presentation materials is NOT final. It is very much a work in progress and may have little to no bearing on the final proposal. You can see the full DoE presentation here. There are two proposals being floated; rezoning with set asides for accommodating economic diversity, and a non-zoned ‘sub-district’ plan. There is also still room for other options. The timeline is also in question.

To make this work for kindergarteners who have to apply to programs by mid Jan. the DoE has to really get moving. After they present a final plan there needs to be a little over a month of public discussion before the D15 CEC will vote to approve or not. There has been talk of a possible temporary plan (PS 32 will have capacity for an additional 436 seats in their new addition beginning in the 2020-21 school year). There has also been talk of continuing the community outreach and debate about the best way to accomplish the goals and put off the rezoning until next year.

I stayed for the break out discussions and my group was solidly advocating for the unzoned subdistrict plan because of their passionate support of the need for diversity. I think the discussions in the room were very wide ranging. You can read Chalkbeat’s very good article on the meeting here.


Ah Prek, where for art thou?

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If you are looking for Prek information now and not finding it, your problem is that you are being too proactive.

Touring season for public school doesn't usually start until late Oct. The application for prek may not open until Feb. and application deadline may be in March. We don't know yet because the DoE only works in the present tense and that is too far away.

Touring the public school options will likely go through March.
Touring the NYCEEC's (preschools, Head Starts, daycares that have done the paperwork to run a UPK location) are something that will probably end in Dec/Jan.

The DoE is also moving away for their very thorough printed directories (saving trees is a good thing) to their glitchy on-line search functions (which is not such a good thing). I find the search parameters very confusing and unsatisfying. Search on a laptop if you can, use Google Chrome.

To get on the DoE’s email blasts, go here.
To scan the information currently available go here.
To browse the glitchy search function go here. Scan down to the very bottom of the page and follow the prompts.

I searched a random address and it gives me a narrow grouping around a mile radius, but I can't expand the radius. It doesn't make distinction by district, where there is priority for public schools and prek centers according to zone and/or district. When I screened for the subway line, it left off very important options. The fact is that I know the schools exist and had to click many different parameters to actively find schools that I knew I was looking for. If you are not in this position, you would miss important options. If I didn't know they existed I might never have found them

When you click on the program (by the star at the bottom of the listing). It doesn't give you any information about admissions priorities - which I know the different kinds of schools have. You have to dig into the Quality Snapshot to see how many seats are available, to give you an idea about whether you have a chance of getting in or not. Enrollment, if you are reading, these are some of my concerns.

I am hoping that when we get closer to application time, that more information will be available.

Arts and Letters may be merging

Arts and Letters may be merging

There are many unanswered questions, but finally the rumors about where Arts & Letters is probably relocating can be answered! They are likely moving and merging with PS 305. I have lots of questions about how prospective families will be considered, like, will it now be an exclusively zoned school rather than non zoned? Will it be some kind of hybrid? Will there be additional seats for K or MS? Inquiring minds want to know! I think this sounds like a great solution. A merge helps A&L find a new permanent home and it help bring thoughtful attention and popular muscle to 305, a local school that is drastically under-enrolled. It also helps PS 20 where A&L was formerly co-located. They now have room to come into their own.
Here is the parent blast from the Principals involved about it:

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Manhattan HS Fair 2019

Manhattan HS Fair 2019

Got to the Fair at about 10:30, and breezed right into the gym. It was pretty civilized. Relatively easy access. Not wildly noisy. It was hot, but thanks to the fan that I got at Stephen T. Mather, I stayed cool (and learned all about their craftsmanship and historical preservation program)! Many of the schools that I was looking for attended -although there are always some that don’t make it- which sucks. I was happily surprised that many of the schools that I talked to had start times around 8:45!

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My grandmother's stone house in Ulster Co. is for sale

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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.

The listing is here.
Contact Harris Safier of Berkshire Hathaway for more information: hsafier@bhhshudsonvalley.com
914-388-3351

D15 rezoning and diversity- listen up

D15 rezoning and diversity- listen up

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 Jagger

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your placement is not the reward for good work

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.

good behavior online and college placement

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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.

Black Students and the SHSAT

Black Students and the SHSAT

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.

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The myth of the "best school" busted. Glory hallelujah.

The myth of the "best school" busted. Glory hallelujah.

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.

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Good luck.

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.

What are the 'Regents' and why should I care?

“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 website

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Why the D15 Diversity Plan should work

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…

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My view of the District 15 Diversity Plan for Middle School

My view of the District 15 Diversity Plan for Middle School

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.

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In the 11th hour: How do I rank my list?

In the 11th hour: How do I rank my list?

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.

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