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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My new year's wish for you

My new year's wish for you

We didn't know what the hell we were doing when they told us to leave Methodist Hospital with two babies 23 years ago. Winging it, is what we do as parents. For good or ill, they come fully loaded with their own tendencies and talents. If you get lucky, it can sometimes be very hard to screw up and if you get a challenge, it is not always (mostly not) your fault. If you are reading this, you really care about doing a good job. Trying your damnedest is the best job that you can do. You can't engineer perfection and if you try - get ready for disappointment. The thing is, disappointment is a great place to start.

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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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a couple things that are still relevant

I just scrolled down to the bottom of this page and found my own blog archive!!
I started blogging around this time, 8 years ago and boy did (do) I need an editor! The nice thing about blogging is that you can write whatever the hell you damn well please. I was tickled by a couple of pieces (cause I think that I am kinda funny, much to my family's chagrin) and I was interested in my own perspective as a parent of 14 year olds, all those many years ago. Here are three of my favorites, that are still relevant and mildly amusing (even my husband said so!). Don't read the other first blogs. They are awful.
A wistful ode to 'rubber pellet season'
a sweet reminiscence (and creepy reference to cancerous recycled tires)

New Urban Team Sport (NUTS)
how I did the parent teacher conference

Sing is sung
a New York high school institution and my review of the 2008 season. If you want to understand the difference between Murrow and Stuy as institutions - it is all here.

rankings

rankings

I hate numbers.
I just read a article in Patch about Niche's ranking of NYC Private HS. They did very well nationally and you will all be curious to read how each school did on this very narrow and subjective list. First, congratulations to them! (my tone is sincere). My quibble is not public vs. private or even which schools are the best- it is Patch's quote, "NY City is a dry, dry desert for prestigious public schools".

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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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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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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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ranking - I am only going to say this one more time!!!

ranking - I am only going to say this one more time!!!

This blog was specifically written in response to families asking me about prek and k admissions which have a geographic priority that factors into placement.

Your chances of getting into a school are NOT tied to how you rank them. RANK THE SCHOOLS IN THE ORDER THAT YOU LIKE THEM. You will not be disadvantaged by putting a long shot first or by putting your favored zoned school last.

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did you ever have a crazy 21 year old dream?

My daughter, Libby, is graduating from Bowdoin College with a coordinate major in Environmental Studies and Sociology. She has a passion for maps, geography and urban planning and she likes a challenge. It is her dream to bike across the US this summer. As her parents, we are so proud of her and scared out of our gourds (trucks, cliffs, bad brakes). But as a former hobos and enthusiastic world travelers we have to put all that aside and support her fantastic adventure.

She has found a wonderful group, Bike the US for MS. She is taking the North tier from Bar Harbor, across New England through the Midwest to Montana and Seattle. She is an experienced treker and has done the NYC to Montreal, Albany to Cape Cod and Pittsburgh to DC trails. Bike the US for MS organizes cross country bike trips that raise awareness for multiple sclerosis, research & volunteer for patients. Many cyclists come to this program for the ride but become passionately involved with the cause. To participate she needs to raise $1 per mile - that is $4295 before the early spring25% of this amount goes to the cost of the trip (support van and trailer, gas for these vehicles, campsite fees, minor bike repairs, team gear, etc.) and public awareness of the program, 50% goes directly to MS research, 15% goes to service projects for MS patients that they will be involved in on the trip, and the final 10% goes for administrative costs.

Since we are in the midst of final (double) college payments and the fundraising is as much of a challenge as the continental divide, we are hoping to assist in her crowd sourcing.

If you can support this amazing cause and dream
Donations (which can be anonymous) can be made online here (please make sure to donate in Libby Szuflita's name)

Libby's Page

Old blogs about the other trips:
Our trip on the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O

Teen Treks


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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leaving your old friends at middle school

"On top of all the stress of placement, isn't it hard for the kids to leave their old friends to go to a new middle school?" I get this a lot from the parents of young children, especially when those parents have loved their own experience growing up with the same people in each school. It is also often the case that their kids #1 requirement for their new middle school is that it is the one their friends are attending. What I find often is that there are unrecognized benefits to a shake up.
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i owe my soul to the company store (I mean College Board)

I am so glad the College Board is being forced to reconsider the SAT because they finally have some competition in the college testing market. I resent their monopoly and the fact I have paid hundreds (thousands?) of dollars to them because there was virtually no other game in town. I don't begrudge them my money for a valuable service, but when that service is warped from a helpful assessment to a huge cash cow that is leading the admissions process rather than supporting it, I object.

This is times-two for twins over a 6 year period:
I have paid them for PSATs, multiple SATs, and SAT 2 times several subjects. I am not even going to mention the books for each SAT, SAT 2, and AP class. I have paid them to send all these multiple test results to 10 schools per kid (we were conservative in the number of schools that the kids applied to - many people are now doing many more).
I have paid $86 per AP test for 5 tests times two kids (and to send all of these scores to the 10 schools each kid applied to)- which, because of top scores may have helped a tiny bit in admissions but didn't yield a single credit in their highly selective private colleges which appear never to take AP scores. I pay iDOC every year to record my tax returns to these schools so that I can apply for financial aid. I am not even adding in my time spent on traveling to the myriad of tests, scheduling and working my way through their system, or the hours and days of childhood wasted. What a racket!

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st. crispin's day

Even though St. Crispin's Day isn't until Oct., when I think about the parents and students preparing to enter new kindergartens, middle schools or high schools in the fall...
I can't help but hear Shakespeare's rousing words from Henry V.

if you start to get cold feet over the summer, thinking about the possible challenges ahead, replace "going to battle against a huge French army" with "entering a kindergarten class in a brand new school" and imagine your Principal giving this, the granddaddy of all motivational speeches.

we happy few,
we band of brothers...

teachers salaries: public vs private

There was an interesting quiry on Park Slope Parents this month about teacher's salaries. It is a bit of an apples and oranges conversation. I have some links if you want to do more reading. It appears that public school teachers win out pretty clearly on salaries and benefits, but private school teachers may have some quality of life benefits (smaller class size and no state testing requirements). Both jobs are very challenging (no one has it easy!).
Here are some links, but you need to filter out the politics (right wing, anti union; left wing, pro union, etc.)

National Center for Education Statistics
ehow:money
edudemic

NY Times: Opinion
NYC DoE
salary.com

wordsworth for graduation

This goes out to all parents of prekindergarteners, 5th graders, 8th graders and high school seniors:

--That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn no murmur; other gifts
Have followed, for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompence.

"Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey" by William Wordsworth

making decisions

This is the time of year when parents agonize over decisions. April, May and occasionally in June, I will sit down at my desk with a cup of coffee and at 8am, put on my headphones, and take 15 and 30 min. calls all day until 6:30. There are some days in April when I feel like I am an air traffic controller with planes stacked up over O'Hare. Parents circling, looking for a safe landing...
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