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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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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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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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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g&t info arriving this weekend

check your inbox.
It seems that G&T scores are coming out shortly. If you don't get your score by April 7, contact them.

"Score reports and eligibility letters for the 2014-2015 school year were sent to families in early April. If you do not receive your child’s results by April 7th, please call 718-935-2009 for assistance."

I have reports that if you have a pin that you may be able to access the scores online. The Doe has announced the deadline to apply for a G&T seat is April 21.

Schools are listing tours for next week and beyond here and on their websites. Depending on the school, you may need to register for the tour.

interesting new programs pop up like flowers in the spring

New magnet programs!
Parents are often confused about what "magnet" means in NYC.

Magnet programs are designed to foster racial integration. They receive federal or state funding for special programs (such as art, drama or law) to make the school attractive to children of different races who might not otherwise attend, and they admit children from outside their immediate neighborhood. - from

PS 46 Magnet Schl of Communications and Media Arts, District 13 (Fort Greene) they also have an existing DL Spanish program
PS 54, District 13
(Bed-Stuy) they also an existing have DL Spanish program
PS 307
Magnet Schl for STEM Studies, D 13 (Vinegar Hill) they also have and existing DL Mandarin program

PS 250 Magnet Schl for Communications and Media Arts, D14 (Williamsburg)
PS 257 D14 (Williamsburg)
PS 380 D14 (Williamsburg)
PS 414 Magnet Schl for Global and Ethical Studies, D14 (Williamsburg) they also have an existing DL Spanish program

PS 15 Magnet Schl for the Arts, D15 (Red Hook) they also have an existing DL Spanish program

New Dual Language programs!

Dual-language immersion programs have classes in which half the students are native speakers of English, and half speak another language (Spanish, Chinese or French, for example). Classes are taught in each language on alternative days or weeks, and the children are expected to become fluent in both. [Non English-speakers may also want to consider bilingual or English as a Second Language classes. These are designed to teach children English but do not attempt to help them perfect their native languages. - from

PS 3 in District 13 (Bed-Stuy) DL French and DL Spanish
PS 20 in D13 (Fort Greene) DL French

PS 147 in D14 (East Williamsburg) may have a DL Japanese program (talk to the school for more info)- also interesting school wide theme in "Environmental Engineering"
PS 196 in D14 (East Williamsburg) may have a DL program in 2014 (keep in contact with the school for late breaking info)

PS 124 in D15 (South Slope) DL Spanish
PS 516 Sunset Park Avenues (Sunset Park) new school, with DL Spanish

If I have missed any (I wasn't listing DL programs that are already established), please let me know!
If you are interested in any of these programs and you didn't list them on your Kindergarten Connect app, it couldn't hurt to contact the school (and stay in touch) throughout the spring. If seats are available into the summer and fall, they may be happy to hear from you.


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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2013 test scores

For the next year, parents are going to be asking me why they should take a chance on schools that have less than 50% of kids performing at grade level.

Consider this: tests that were given before schools had even seen the curriculum (that the tests were based on) and were so poorly designed that many children couldn't possibly finish them are not worth considering.

You can't rely on the scores to determine a quality school. You are going to have to trust your eyes and your gut.

Read these for more reasons to ignore these stats.

What the drop in new standardized test scores really means - Washington Post

Shock Doctrine: five reasons not to trust the results of the new state tests

2013′s test score takeaways, starting with what didn’t change

getting a school tour from a student

You must watch this video before you tour. That is your homework.

Once you have an idea about what you might want to be looking for you can contact the school; call the school's parent coordinator or front office, or check their website for a tour date. Take notes in the introductory talk about the school's programs, partnerships, educational focus, afterschool etc. Then you will all probably break up into groups to travel around the building and peek into the classrooms. Usually there will be a school administrator or parent who is leading the tours and sometime if you are lucky there will be a collection of 5th graders who will be there to answer questions as well.

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"kindergarten connect" conspiracy theories

It is beginning.

I am starting to hear the inevitable creative, crazy, uninformed ways to strategise the Kindergarten Connect process to totally mess up the ranking of your potential kindergarten options. Can we all stop and take a breath? If the city wanted to create an elaborate, passive-aggressive algorithm that was designed to screw you, why would they go to all this trouble? Couldn't they just do that on their own? Frankly, if they were that diabolically dedicated to ruining your life, the whole city would run way better. See this for what it is - a very blunt instrument that assigns seats with certain priorities by random. Do you feel lucky? The vast majority of zoned kids will have a seat in their zoned schools if they want them. Most of you looking for out of zone seats will be lucky if you just keep your heads and stay in the game until the last wait list placements are made.

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Kindergarten Connect update. Hot off the presses!


Lots of questions are answered!

Here is the DoE's School Directory information.

First, the DoE has two different application deadlines listed. March 1 and Feb.14 - I guess we will find out which one is correct in due time.

Here are some things we now know:

  • Charter Schools will not be included on the ranked 1-20 Kindergarten Connect list this year. You apply to them separately through their websites or open houses. The deadlines to apply for their lotteries are usually in late March and lotteries are often held right around the April 1. Remember schools like: Brooklyn New School, The Children's School, Arts and Letters, PS 133 and New American Academy are NOT charter schools. They are un zoned DoE programs. They are different.
  • G&T schools will not be listed on the 1-20 list (you need to test in and do the ranked list if your child gets a qualifying score in late spring)
  • You rank up to 20 DoE programs on the online Kindergarten Connect list, in the order that you like them.
  • When you get a placement in early April, you should pre register at the school, but you will automatically be placed on a waitlist for schools that you have ranked above that school. You will not be penalized on the wait list for registering at the school you have been assigned to. You don't need to take any action to get a seat from the wait list, if there is a seat for you, it will be offered by the school at the time that it becomes available.
  • If you are interested in a Dual Language program, you will be able to list that program separately from the the general ed program in that school. They will have separate code numbers and be listed as separate choices on your 1-20 list.
  • There will be priorities given to siblings, zoned students and current prek students according to the DoE's priority rankings.

giant sea change in kindergarten application procedures

The DoE announced late last week that they are changing the kindergarten application process up in a big way.
The old way that families would apply to various kindergarten programs was to physically go individually to each zoned school in and out of their district and apply in person (drag). They could also register for the charter and unzoned school lotteries and go through the city's g&t process all separately (what! something else to do!?). They would hear individually throughout the spring and summer and sometimes into the fall in a slow round robin as choices in individual schools shifted (get an offer here, get an offer there, offers offers everywhere). Families could get multiple offers to several schools (nice). It was a process that was handled on the local level and there was a lot of wiggle room (you don't have to decide which schools you liked best, you just waited for a better offer to trade up).
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rezoning: 2013 edition

We don't have any maps to show because things are in the planning stages.

Rezoning for the PS 58/32 border seems to be off the table in District 15. The DoE has declined the D15 CEC's push to rezone.

There will be some kind of rezoning or other plan for the new Sunset Park Avenues School on 4th Ave. that will open in fall of 2014 in the St. Michael's School building. The grave overcrowding in several of the Sunset Park schools, particularly 169 and 94 will be addressed with 75 new kindergarten seats in this building (with growth vertically over the next years), but no plans about exactly where and how have been brought forward.

The DoE has been having "dezoning" talks in several districts around the city, including D13 (I think that their CEC may have already voted it down, but that doesn't mean that it won't come back), 14 and 17 and a few others that are out of my region in Brooklyn. It is in the interest of parents of preschool children to understand this issue. There are lots of implications to this move including, taking power from the local District CEC - Community Education Council (parents only real muscle in local school issues), the ability of parents to try for seats at more than one local zoned school, the dismantling of local neigborhood programs including making children travel out of their neighborhoods, and the possibility of the unchecked spread of charter schools (charter schools aren't evil, there just needs to be local imput and not all programs are necessary appropriate).

See what is happening around this in District 6.

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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wait listed for kindergarten

It is that time of year again. The DoE's official list of numbers of waitlisted zoned students is online.
Check out the very wise "Ask Judy".

Here are a couple things that you need to know. This is a giant game of musical chairs and it is still early days. It is definitely not time to panic. There will likely be some movement this week as zoned schools tally the number of zoned students who actually came in to pre-register. Some of those families got places at charter, un-zoned, dual language and private programs and will take those places, leaving seats at their zoned schools open. As people vacate seats, others will take those spots which will leave more vacancies. Everyone has a different 'favorite' school, so lots of seats in many different schools will be in play. The seats at those schools will slowly and steadily trickle out.

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