Robin Aronow, a consultant who advises parents on school choice, wrote with additional information from last week's Manhattan pre-K proposal hearing. It sounds like most of the issues raised there are similar to those raised in Brooklyn, which I reported on last week. Parents want more preference for siblings, and they don't want their kids to be forced to switch schools after pre-K because there will be no automatic admission to kindergarten in the same school; they are especially concerned about kids having to leave dual-language programs, where enrollment shifts are disruptive for both students and the school. (There has never been automatic admission, but many principals have used their discretion to admit out-of-zone pre-K children to their kindergarten.)
One thing Robin heard was very different from what I understood to be the plan. She writes, "As for the uniform kindergarten policy for next year, [DOE officials] are still working out many factors, including whether zoned schools will be part of the uniform application process or remain a separate option." At the Brooklyn hearing, DOE officials made it crystal clear that zoned schools would be part of the same application process. Has the DOE realized that requiring parents to apply to zoned schools will greatly limit school choice, or did someone misspeak in Manhattan?
Other new information:
- In order to be on the same timeline as other school choice processes, the District 3 kindergarten lottery has been pushed back for this year. Applications will now be available at the beginning of March and notifications of placements will happen in May, around the same time as the Gifted & Talented notifications arrive.
- The DOE has said that community-based organizations will use the same admissions timeline as the DOE, but parents noted that many of the CBO pre-K programs are already filled for next year.
- Above kindergarten, applicants will have to go through the OSEPO and request a Placement Exception Request, the new name for a variance, to attend a school other than their zoned school.
For more on the anxiety parents are starting to feel over the proposed changes, check out Neil deMause's report in the Village Voice. The pre-K hearing in Queens is tonight; hearings in Staten Island and the Bronx will be next week. Let us know what you hear in your borough.