Update on Prek for fall 2016

Update on Prek for fall 2016

Public prek application season has started. Applications can be submitted online from 1/25 through 3/4 as well as in person or by phone. This is NOT a first come, first served process (it is crazy how that rumor persists). You are placed in early to mid May and then you are automatically placed on a wait list for any school that you ranked higher than the school you are placed in. There may be some new programs added during the late spring and you can apply to them in Round 2 (May2-20).

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Applying for Elementary School: Chapter 3, Rich Man - Poor Man

Applying for Elementary School: Chapter 3, Rich Man - Poor Man

I hear parents talk with great certainty about how you need to find a school with a rich PTA to get arts, staff and other untold benefits. Schools, please tell me that I am wrong, but that is not what I see on many tours. What you need is a savvy and thoughtful Principal who will attract a staff that can multi task, including grant writing to bring the programs that they need. Now this is not a blog meant to excuse gross inequities in the system and the fact that public school educators have to be superior grant writers to bring basic arts and enrichments to their schools is appalling. BUT parents who think that you can only get the 'good stuff' at a 'rich school' can be shockingly misinformed. This is a valentine to the schools serving the kids who are not coming from affluent homes, who have done amazing things.

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Applying for Elementary School: Chapter 2, How Can We Rank If We Don't Know What to Look for?

Applying for Elementary School: Chapter 2, How Can We Rank If We Don't Know What to Look for?

First, watch InsideSchools wonderful 5 min. video a couple of times (and send this amazing 'not for profit' a check for the invaluable work they do before the end of the year - you are going to need them for years to come).

Next, ask yourself this question: If I am attracted to schools that are focused on real learning instead of test prep and opting out of the test is something that I could see myself doing (to protect my child from the stress or as a political act), how much importance do I place on the test scores at any school I am considering? Just asking.

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Applying for Elementary School: Chapter 1, Ranking

Applying for Elementary School: Chapter 1, Ranking

Let the games begin. The application period opened on Dec. 7 and will close on Jan. 15. This is NOT a first come, first served process. You can rank up to 12 programs on your application. You do not need to rank your zoned school, but that DOES NOT improve your chances at one of your other choices AND if you don't rank it and if your zoned school is popular with other people, you run the very slight risk of not being placed there and getting sent somewhere you like less. Don't strategize or monkey around. Be straight with this process and it will work for you.

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What you need to know about UPK in November

What you need to know about UPK in November

Both of my Intro to Public School talks have sold out at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. I have scheduled a new talk there on Feb. 11 (the earliest we could get a date). Many people inquiring about tickets are families curious about prek, so I thought that I would give you the low down so that you could move ahead with confidence and still come to the talk in Feb. to learn (mostly) about what you have ahead of you for kindergarten.

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ATTENTION! all 2011 parents and elmentary schools

Dates are out for kindergarten application and they are EARLY.
Word is that the application period is open on Dec. 7, 2015 and I have heard that the deadline is Jan. 15, 2016. Nothing on the DoE website yet. Spread the word.

Schools have begun listing their tours with the DoE, but many schools were obviously going by last year's Valentines deadline and many tours are being held in Dec. Jan. and even into Feb. - too late to help families make decisions. I am sure that as soon as the schools know the deadline they will adjust their tours accordingly.

I am gathering tour dates from schools in northwest Brooklyn and I will also list as many as I can find in the newsletter.

The mania of school branding

The mania of school branding

I say this all day long, "There is a mania for naming schools things that may or may not have anything to do with what is going on in the school." Whether you are looking at elementary, middle school or high school- look past the name. They are trying to differentiate themselves from other schools, but generally, and particularly at elementary and middle school, they often have the exact same curriculum and enrichments. Sometimes the name is wildly out of date. Sometimes it is aspirational.

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"top 10 things I learned in the college application process" by Anon.

"top 10 things I learned in the college application process" by Anon.

I don't take guest blogs, but I got this wonderful email from a parent whose child graduated from one of my favorite NYC public schools this spring (not Bard or Beacon or Stuy - keep guessing). She is a kid who squeezed the best out of her good old Brklyn high school experience and her hard work was rewarded by the kind of college placement you all dream of.  It is so right on the money that I though I would share it with you. Edited slightly for space. My comments in italics.

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rising 8th graders: what about high school?

rising 8th graders: what about high school?

You know that the high school search is going to be taking up most of your fall. What should you do right now to prepare?

Come to my High School Choice: Calm and Clear talk on July 9 at 7pm at Hootenanny Art House. There are tickets still available and if you wait until the fall when I hold the last one (I will be scheduling shortly) you may be a little behind the 8 ball.

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I wasn't there, but I have an opinion

I wasn't there, but I have an opinion

This is classic - she doesn't show up to the Public Forum: “Reimagining the Middle School Admissions Process in District 15”, but she has an opinion about it. I did have a good excuse: the first of two college graduations. I applaud everyone involved! and I will make every effort to attend and support all discussions on this issue. From the reports that I have read, there were many thoughtful and diverse perspectives of the effects of the current process and some options mentioned for possible models. I really like one possible option over the others and I want to tell you why.

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new middle school talk!

Due to popular demand, I have developed a new middle school talk to be given on Thurs. June 25 at 7pm at Hootenanny Art House in the south slope. It is not location specific, so whether you are in D15 or any of the surrounding districts you will take away valuable information about how the process works and how to think about the middle years in general. My goal is to untangle the spaghetti of information and see the glass half full (which it is) instead of being fearful and anxiety ridden, which never ever helped anyone get a middle school placement.

Tickets are $30 and available here.

Brooklyn! lets start a new neighborhood school search culture

Brooklyn! lets start a new neighborhood school search culture

There are a lot of freaked out 11 year olds out there. This middle school 'choice process' is not kind. The kids that got their heart's desire are relieved, but it is hard to be happy when your friends are not. There are some kids who got great placements but it was not the one they wanted or where their friends are going and there are kids who are headed into the unknown (or even worse - the unpopular known) and that is scarey for everyone. I know that you all feel at the mercy of this process and that your children are being tortured by an unfeeling algorithm. You have a case.

I do think that there is a very significant thing that we, as parents, can do.

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