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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mystery sparkle school planning meeting

I call the beautiful new school building that is going up on E.8th between Kermit and Caton in Kensington "Mystery Sparkle School" because that new construction is always so gorgeous (and they change the numbers). PS 437 is a "working title".

There are some interesting doings down there and a promising proposed plan is surfacing. This may impact (in a good way - relieving overcrowding, providing improved additional facilities and maybe more spots for prek among other interesting benefits...) the PS 130 community among others. 

If you live in Kensington or Windsor Terrace, you definitely have a stake in this decision. There is going to be a meeting with the District 15 Community Education Council this coming Tues. July 15, 2014 at 6:30pm at PS 130, 70 Ocean Parkway. They will be discussing possible zoning changes as well as proposed plans for the Sparkle School.

Here is a flier about the event.

alligators in the sewer and middle school admissions

At the end of a very thoughtful article in Brooklyn Magazine about Louis C.K. as concerned elementary school parent and the problems with NYC testing culture (their site is down, I will link when it comes up), all of which I passionately agree, I read this sentence,

"Middle schools do look at report cards when evaluating fifth-graders, however, much like with the SATs, test scores are notoriously heavily weighted."

Sounds of screeching tires and broken glass.
It is just not true, at least not in my corner of the world.

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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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yes Virginia, there is a method to this ranking madness

I keep having to answer this question over and over, infinitely, every year. Please parents and principals, can you read this?

Q: I've been on tours at 2 popular schools and both warned, if you want to get into this school, you better rank it #1! So, which do i put first?

A: I am asked about this, prek through hs - the schools have NO idea how this matching process works. They are trying to be helpful and when they are very popular, they assume that you need to put their school first to be considered. They never see your application, they don't know how you have ranked them, and they have absolutely NO say in this blind process. They assume, like most people that there is some priority given to first choice over second choice. There isn't.

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the waiting game for middle school and kindergarten

New York is a great city and raising kids here is an amazing gift in so many ways. This is the shitty part (why mince words?).

It really sucks to be the last one not asked to the dance. Most of you will get a placement that will satisfy in the end, and a few if you will have to come up with plan B. If you choose to accept the challenge, Plan B is how change occurs. It is how worthy schools begin to emerge and it is how new schools spring to life. The people who take this challenge may begin as reluctant heros, but they may also find ample rewards... or they can wait for next year.

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the 411 on Middle School for parents of babies

The information about middle school placements this week may wipe the g&t aggravation off the front pages for a couple days. There is a lot of fear and loathing around the ms choice process. Let me lay it out for you.

In suburbia, you have a zoned middle school and that is where your child will attend. We here in NYC have district-wide middle school choice. Some very few people will also have a zoned school associated with their address, but that doesn't mean that you don't get to participate. Middle school is 6,7 and 8th grade.

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BUGS: Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School

Big news for 5th graders! BUGS is opening in District 15 in fall of 2013.

Why are they opening this school?
"BUGS initially grew out of street corner and on-going kitchen table conversations between local parents and educators concerned about the number of middle school options in District 15. Once we began taking seriously the possibility of creating a new school, we assembled our academic team and realized the potential we have to not just add needed middle school seats, but to create a cutting edge, developmentally appropriate educational model for the middle years. The selection of an environmental sustainability focused curriculum allows us to offer educational programming that will not only engage the hearts and minds of students, but is a perfect vehicle for teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). We feel strongly that our model will offer this community not just much needed additional middle school seats, but a rich, engaging, rigoruous and meaningful educational experience for our students that can launch them not just to excel in high school, but to seize opportunities for all of their lives.

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i was a new school parent

I mentioned that I had some experience in a new school in the last blog and I thought it might be interesting for you to know a little more about that experience, lest you think I am just making all this "positive change" stuff up. I am sending this out as a love letter to the families considering the "new program" in Park Slope, PS 705 and New American Academy in District 17, PS 414 in Williamsburg and the myriad of new charter programs that are popping up in many districts, including BUGS Middle School that I hope will find a home in fall of 2013. My kids attended a local, diverse, strong and established elementary - our new school experience came at middle school. If you think that this doesn't apply to your situation - let me say that it I think it is a lot easier to "pioneer" at elementary when the kids are little and mostly under the influence of their parents.
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brooklyn heights montessori is opening an expanded campus

The lovely and progressive preschool through 8th grade program located on Court St. and Bergen in Cobble Hill has added a new Middle School suite and Firehouse Theater as well as more outdoor space. They have a new Learning Kitchen that will enhance their math and science curriculum. They have added 11,000 sq ft to the existing campus.

"Recent articles in Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and The Wall St Journal, have reported that a Montessori education is likely the best preparation we can give students for success in the 21st Century. Numerous high-profile entrepreneurs such as the founders of Google, Jeff Bezos founder of Amazon, and countless others have publicly cited their Montessori education as the key contributor to their success. The critical thinking and problem-solving skills developed through a Montessori education will only become more valuable in the new economic structure that future generations will face."

Open in 1965, BHMS students learn reading, writing, and mathematics skills focusing on the process of discovery versus merely retaining information. BHMS engages students in a challenging and meaningful curriculum that inspires independence, confidence, curiosity, leadership, and collaboration.

brooklyn prospect charter finds a permanent home in the Immaculate Heart of Mary building

Immaculate Heart of Mary School is merging with Holy Name School (and joining them in the building on Propect Park West in Windsor Terrace) and becoming St. Joseph the Worker. There has been a lot of speculation about what will happen to the IHM building futher south on Ft. Hamilton. The wait is over! Brooklyn Prospect Charter finally has a permanent home for their 6 to 12th grade school just in time for their first 9th grade class in the fall of 2012.

The approximately 60,000 square foot campus at 3002 Fort Hamilton Parkway will accommodate steadily rising demand, give students more space and enhanced facilities, including state-of-the art-classrooms, a full-size gymnasium, outdoor space, wireless internet, and a library.  BPCS has signed a twenty-year lease, with an additional ten-year option for the space.

public middle school seats for district 13 and beyond

You may have heard that a couple strong public elementary schools in District 13 have been granted permission to extend their elementary programs through 8th grade. The hope is that many of their enrolled 5th graders will remain in the schools for the new 6th grades, but some will move on to other district programs as well as the city wides or private programs. That leaves some seats available for District 13 families from outside of the elementary school. Applying to these schools is a win/win and gives you an extra choice.

PS 8 is holding two Open Houses:
Thursday 3/22 @ 6:30pm at the school (37 Hicks St)
Saturday 3/24 @ 2:30pm at the school
Their school will housed in the Westinghouse HS Campus in downtown Brooklyn. Admission priority will be given to families who come to one of the two information sessions. The "New Schools Application" is due back at your guidance counselor on Mon. 3/26/12.

The Urban Assembly Unison School (13K351)
This is a DOE program (not a charter) that will be co-located in PS 56. You need to submit the "New Schools Application by Fri. 3/23. This school is a progressive program with strong features of accountability and structure, utilizing learning formats of independence, autonomy and choice with small group instruction. Social/emotional learning will be addressed directly in the curriculum. For more information, contact Jennifer Ostrow, Director of New School Development at jostrow@urbanassembly.org

Community Roots Charter School
has a sign up online for a Wed. 3/28 info session
their new program will be housed nearby in PS 287. Applications must be recieved by April 1 to be eligible for the lottery. Fill out an online application here.

when your beloved principal leaves

This happens from time to time. You are impressed by a principal or kindergarten teacher or PTA and are thrilled to get a seat in the school and then you find out that that person is retiring or moving on. What does that mean for the program? You should never pick a school because of any one person, or just by the test scores, or because of a program or grant. There are many factors that should go into your determination of a good school for your child. Stats famously fluctuating, budgets are cut, grants run out and staff (no matter how much you feel that you depend on them) have their own lives.
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schoolfest in williamsburg and greenpoint

Town Square's Schoolfest, the wonderful annual school "open house" is being held on Sat. September, 17 from noon to 4pm

in the Harry Van Arsdale Campus, 257 N. 6th St. near Driggs Ave. (home to Brooklyn Prep High School, Williamsburg HS for Architecture and Design and Williamsburg Prep).

There will be a wealth of local programs represented. They invite all schools, day care to high school - private and public, in Williamsburg/Greenpoint, to a single venue to promote their schools and programs. 50 schools and organizations are coming!

I will also be there doing seminars sponsored by Schoolfest.
12:00 Prek and Kindergarten Application Process
1pm Middle School Application Process
2pm High School Application Process

I got a call today from a very happy kindergarten parent, whose child is in the dual language French program at PS 110. This program will be recruiting interested families for next year as will the growing dual language Spanish program at PS 84. Come and check out those as well as all the other wonderful neighborhood options.

getting organized for school with urban clarity

I asked the wonderful organizer and Brooklyn mom, Amanda Wiss, of Urban Clarity to give me some tips for organizing for back to school.
For your nursery school scholar: Take a moment now to create a place for all the incoming artwork. It can be a drawer, a shelf, an oversized inbox or a large portfolio. Make it THE landing spot for your budding Picasso’s. When you want to display a few gems in your house or to send some to grandparents, it’ll be a snap. And you’ll thank me when glitter hasn’t invaded every nook and cranny of your living space. Want a super cool product to corral the art?
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Valedictorians have hotdogs with Mayor Bloomberg

Since Murrow is a "non competitive" school there was no mention made at graduation of the fact that my brilliant young relative was Salutatorian (knowledge is its own reward - I really believe that - although she is not so sure - file that under "life lesson"). She did get an invite from the Mayor to come to Gracie Mansion for hotdogs with all the other lovely valedictorians and salutatorians from high schools all over the city. But that is not what I want to talk about...
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brooklyn prospect charter's new home

It is finally revealed! Brooklyn Prospect Charter announced this week that they will be moving to new construction at 270 Douglass St. between Nevins and 3rd Ave. It looks like it will be across from the park in part of the space that the white roofed buildings occupy.

The design process has already begun for this fully dedicated, purpose built, permanent school facility and because they are building from the ground up the building will not be ready for the 2011 school year. They plan to move in for fall 2012 (that will be their first year with a 9th grade). They are working with the DOE to find interim space for the 6th, 7th and 8th graders next year. No word on where their one year temporary digs will be.

Click here for admission information

If you are interested in an information session on March 1, you can follow the link on their website or sign up here. They don't hold tours until after their April 5, 2011 lottery. Tours are available at that time to the parents of admitted students.

scoring changes for next year

The Board of Regents approve scoring changes to grade 3 to 8 Math and English tests. Essentially, they have decided the tests and scoring are too dumbed down. State scores have been going up while the scores on the NAEP National Assessment of Educational Progress have remained flat.

"Senior Deputy Commissioner John King said, 'The data shows that schools responded to the assignment they were given – they worked hard to help students achieve standards as measured by the state tests that were being given at that time. And more students did, in fact, pass those tests. The problem is that those exams didn’t sufficiently test students’ abilities – the bar was set too low. But we are changing that now. It’s time to end the annual debate about whether our tests have become easier and to put to rest questions about what it means to achieve proficiency in New York.'” - NYSED press release

School, district and state results will be released July 26. I assume that the students will get their results in August as predicted.

"Cut scores classify student proficiency into one of four performance levels based on their test performance; currently, the levels are defined as follows: Level 1, not meeting learning standards; Level 2, partially meeting learning standards; Level 3, meeting learning standards; and Level 4, meeting learning standards with distinction."