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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Changes for D15 Middle School Applications

Changes for D15 Middle School Applications

There is one big admissions change for families applying in the fall of 2016 (5th grade families) for middle school in 2017. Your rankings on the application will be "blind". The schools will NOT know how you have ranked them. While this is not the major overhaul to the system that many feel is needed, it does make the process easier in the short term for families. You no longer have to 'strategize' about your first two choices. Rank all schools in the order that you like them with no fear of being 'out of the running' if you place a school 3rd or 4th or lower.

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the clone wars

the clone wars

What's in a name? Granted NYC School Help is lame. If I had thought another minute, I probably could have come up with something better, but when you search "joyce" or "help! schools" I figured it would be likely to come up in the search. Lately there has been a rash of similarly named schools that have occasionally been scrambling my brain.

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Brooklyn Prospect Charter expands to Middle School in District 13

Brooklyn Prospect Charter expands to Middle School in District 13

We have been waiting for this for a little while now, but it is official. Brooklyn Prospect Charter School, the IB program that has been a staple in District 15 for years and has recently opened a K-5 program downtown in District 13, has announced that they are going forward with their 6th grade in fall of 2016. This new middle school will be called Brooklyn Prospect Charter School- Clinton Hill Middle. It is modeled after their Windsor Terrace Middle School and will be led by 3 Brooklyn Prospect veterans. As kids from the downtown elementary age up, they will have preference to a seat in the new middle school but since BPCS Downtown Elementary only goes up to 3rd grade in fall of 2016, for a couple years, BPCS Clinton Hill Middle will have seats open with priority to all District 13 families. Attending BPCS Clinton Hill Middle and BPCS Windsor Terrace Middle students will have priority to their IB High School program which has their inaugural 12th grade class this year.

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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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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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huzzah! new ms 839 in district 15

huzzah! new ms 839 in district 15

New school alert. We knew it was coming- the beautiful new building on E. 8th St. between Kermit and Caton is almost done. PS 130 has been rezoned and "split-sited" and will be occupying part of the building. MS 839, a small school (300 students when they are at capacity in 3 years) will be opening in the fall. If you are interested, sign up for email alerts on their website. All District 15 5th graders can apply by asking for a "New School Application form" from your school. That application is separate from your main application. If you receive an offer to MS 839, you will still have your main round middle school offer and you choose between the two. A little more school information here. Can't wait to learn more!

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venting about middle school

I have heard too much distress from parents in the wind and now I just have to weigh in. It seems like so many people are unhappy about the fact that there are too few "good middle school options".

I have to ask. Do you mean schools with high test scores?
If you are clinging to the safety of high test scores, then you are empowering the tests and you will be supporting that culture; the stress, the prep, the high stakes and anxiety. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

If it is not high test scores, what makes a good school?

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what happened at the meeting about K437 (mystery sparkle school)

Last night the D15 CEC (Community Education Council) held a meeting at PS 130 in Kensington to begin the process of community education and review. The topic was possible rezoning to relieve overcrowding in the surrounding school zones (154, 130, 131 essentially) and to determine what the heck is going to happen with mystery sparkle school on E.8th between Kermit and Caton.

It was a very crowded with neighbors and parents from Windsor Terrace and Kensington. The CEC invited Carrie Marlin, Director of Planning for Brooklyn Schools, and City Council-person Brad Lander, to speak along with Anita Skop District 15 Superintendent and members of the community. Here's the deal:

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