PS 8's overcrowding

It is not new news that PS 8 is very very crowded and their kindergarten class may be "capped" in fall of 2015. That means that there may not be enough seats available for all in zone families at K. I have found, in other neighborhoods where this has been a problem (look to Park Slope and Kensington for Brooklyn prototypes), that the families who have the best outcomes are the ones who stop shaking their fists in frustration and try to affect change and/or avail themselves of the system which may also provide them with a wide range of school options. The DoE will do what the DoE will do, but they are not against listening and numbers will always get attention. You will feel frustrated through this process and rezoning (which will happen with a new plan or building) is always painful for someone.
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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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high school fair report

It was business as usual at Brooklyn Tech today; crowded, noisy and hot hot hot! It was also awesome. Thanks SO much to the wonderful educators, students, school security officers and DoE Enrollment officials (and my husband who is a school search widower)! I know a lot of you are now freaked out and just plain tired, but I feel very optimistic and energized!

Here are some take-aways:

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history book contest

I asked newsletter readers to send me their favorite nonfiction history book suggestions and I would pick my favorite to add to my night stand pile. They would receive a copy of Uncle Sam Presents: The Great American Documents Vol. 1

Here is a list of suggestions from my readers:

  • Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD by Peter Brown (fascinating look at the dichotomy between the wealth of the church that espouses virtues of poverty)
  • To Be a Slave by Julius Lester (a riveting book for teens)
  • River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard (Teddy Roosevelt should win the prize as not only our most interesting President, but our nation's most energetic and compelling citizen)

Thanks to all who entered! I think that I am going with "Through the Eye of the Needle". We were in Rome last fall and this is a compelling subject that I have never read about before.

 

NEW District 15 prek seats for fall 2014

This from Brad Lander's Office:

My office has just learned that the New York City Department of Education will be offering a new pre-k opportunity for families residing within District 15. Beginning this September, seven additional classes will be offered within leased space at the former Bishop Ford High School located at 500 Nineteenth Street, BK, NY 11215. The program will be supervised by senior Principal Laura Scott from PS 10 whose school was recently named a “Reward” school by the New York State Department of Education.

Space is limited and will be reserved for District 15 families on a first-come, first-served basis lottery basis. Registration will begin at 9 a.m.  on Tuesday, August 26th at PS 10 located at 511 7th Avenue, BK, NY 11215. Admission to this district 15 program does not provide admission priority to PS 10. Families must bring their child with them and two proofs of District 15 residence, 2010 birth certificate, and vaccination card.

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ch-ch-ch-changes for public high school admissions

The one big thing that is changing in the HS admissions procedure for the fall 2014 admissions season is that 2%ers (students who score in the top 2% state wide on the 7th grade ELA test) will no longer be given a guaranteed entry to an Ed Opt program. In the past if you were a 2%er and you listed an Ed Opt program as your number one choice, it was a GUARANTEED entry. Sorry, no longer.

Now there are NO guarantees of any placement in the entire Doe admissions process from prek to high school. Oh well, that's life in the big city.

See page 5 of the current DoE HS Directory

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.

what mick jagger and sarah birnbaum have in common

"you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need..." I am beginning to think that is a song about parenting - I can't stop quoting it to families. 

I finally met Sarah Birnbaum, NY Special Needs Support, in person this morning. If you have a child who "will do well anywhere" you can stop reading. You are good to go. This blog is for the parents of "quirky" kids, kids with learning differences, kids who require a specific environment, and for parents who need to find someone who understands and can help. Sarah is the missing link for those families. She is your translator, interface, the truth teller (whether you are ready to hear or not), and your fierce advocate.

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brooklyn catholic academies deserve a second look

There have been a lot of changes for Catholic schools in Brooklyn over the last couple of years. They are moving away from parish schools and becoming Catholic Academies. This is a new management structure. An Academy will have a Board of Directors made up of community members, business people and educators. The Parish priests do have a significant role, but it is not as central as before. The principal and teachers will be hired brand new and the Academy has more of an outward reach than a parish institution.
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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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kindergarten connect numbers

We may have lots of numbers later (we hope), but this is what is out there so far from the DoE:

  • 47,725 students (71 percent) received an offer to their first choice
  • 8,601 students (12.8 percent) received an offer to one of their second or third choices
  • 3,670 students (5.5 percent) received an offer to a school not listed among their top three
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disappointed!

Seems like the Kindergarten Connect notification is coming out today. This is what I expect to hear a lot of -

"I put down 15 choices! My zoned school was my last choice! I got my zoned school! "Choice" is not choice! Everybody and everything s#@*ks!"

This is exactly what I anticipated. Give yourself a moment to be disappointed, but then move on. Your hopes seemed to be dashed in an instant. What you need to understand is that this is how this system works for most people and you need to be patient for it to work for you. This is the starting pistol in a marathon. It is too early to freak. This is the baseline.

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