Wednesday, April 16

Getting into NYC schools too much trouble for some families

On one of our earlier posts about the changes to G&T admissions, Insideschools blog reader Crimson Wife commented:

The mess in the NYC G&T programs and the ridiculous competition for private school slots is a major reason why my [husband] accepted a position in one of his firm's branch offices rather than its Manhattan headquarters.

The bureaucrats need to know that the situation is deterring families from living in the city.
What a sad reality — and there is a growing perception that this truly is the reality. Monday's Times had a column titled "Loving a City, but Hating a School System" about the challenges families face negotiating school admissions run by a DOE that's "withholding, mercurial and unable to commit." The column describes how, because the DOE regularly changes admissions rules and timelines, parents devise contingency plans for every admissions scenario. These plans often include moving on short notice within the city or out of it.

Although some might like it, the DOE is under no obligation to create a seat in gifted programs or desirable schools for every middle-class family that seeks one. But the DOE has perfected its ability to make and enforce policies without showing any concern for their affect on individual children and families. This attitude is offensive to everyone. But only some can respond by opting out, and for the system — and the city — to thrive, it needs to attract and retain educated, middle-class families who want to send their kids to the public schools.

All families seem to be asking is that the DOE stick to its own rules, give fair warning when a rule could change, and not penalize those who made plans based on yesterday's rules. That doesn't sound like too much to expect.


Ginger said...

I feel physically depressed by the situation. If my husband weren't adamant about staying in the city, the treatment of the DOE this year would have had me out of here in a second.

In the past month I have spent all my work days trying to figure out which public school my future Kindergartener might possible get into. I have held off to the last minute applying for public PreK for her twin siblings so that they might enjoy sibling preference. I was very rudely -- which was actually what bothered me the most -- told by the G & T office this morning that while they understood that I had to choose a PreK school for my twins by Friday, they wouldn't be sending the letters out until Monday & they wouldn't tell me over the phone or email me. They advised me that if there were any PreK spots once I find out where my older daughter will be I can file for a placement exception IF there are any spots left once other children are assigned. Woo-hoo. We all know that there are not enough PreK spots available for all who apply.

I felt that the NYT article the other day wasn't strong enough about this mistreatment. This city truly doesn't care about the middle class -- maybe when everyone flees this God forsaken place I can get a spot for my kids!

When I recover from my depression, I may just be so pissed that I would like to be part of a parent advocacy group. Seriously, how can parents affect change?

Vicki said...

The attitude in this blog entry -- that only a tiny few schools, especially G&T program, can possibly meet the needs of their very special middle-class white children -- is offensive. I am a middle-class white parent to two children who are receiving superb educations in the NYC public schools -- not gifted and talented programs, regular schools. Open your eyes and your mind, and you will find more great schools than you think.

Ginger said...

I would gladly have my kids attend a regular school. Thing is when you are zoned for an underperforming school (multiple principals in one year; very low scores) that is often the only ticket out.

Between charter schools and other zoned schools, we have applied to 8 public schools, but we are wait listed at all & the G & T program is our best bet now.

So please, don't you call my post offensive.

Judy said...

Please explain:

Students who score at or above the 95th percentile will be guaranteed a seat in a
district program
 Students who score at or above the 97th percentile will be eligible for a seat in a
citywide G&T school

Am I to conclude that students who score abor 96% does not have to go to their zoned G&T school?

Anonymous said...

Every child should have the right to go to the public school of their choice.-Why should a child be stuck going to nonperformaning school in their disrtict. -Getting into a really good school outside your district is very stressfull. I have given up on the Department of Education. My only choice is private school or sending my child to an out of state school were the choices are better and the quality is much higher. I am tired of paying taxes and not being able to send my child to a decent school in my own district.

Anonymous said...

My protest against the DOE is to quit the system and go to private school. (Which, btw, are all general ed, no G&T in sight and yet somehow manage to educate a wide range of kids just fine). Yes, private is expensive, but the fact is, rent and/or taxes in a district with a good school (199, 6, etc...) would cost us the same amount, and I would rather the money not go to the DOE.

jennem said...

The issue is that we all pay the same taxes, but we have unbelievably widely varying schools. Some are lucky to be able to afford, or commute from, areas with great zoned schools. Some (like us) are zoned for a school where our child would be physically unsafe and educationally deprived. How am I being offensive in wanting better, when those who live in the same city and pay the same taxes, DO get better by the luck of their residence? The smugness of those who live in good zones is amazing to those of us who can't afford, or otherwise manage, such a feat. I'm sure, Vicki, you would not be so superior in your attitude if you lived in my zone, which is the best I can afford within a 1-hour commute of my job.

eduwonkette said...

This analysis of who wins and loses from the G&T policy change suggests that the city *does* care about keeping more advantaged kids in the system - see these maps on the percentage of kids classified as gifted under the old and new plans for more details:

jennem said...

Eduwonkette, I don't get your point at all. I don't see how the data shows the city cares more about advantaged than disadvantaged kids in. At all. The more advantaged areas will now have severe overcrowding in G&T. Some disadvantaged areas will at least be able to maintain programs that they would have lost under the 95% rule. The city has no control over how many pass under each percentage, and did a great job of outreach. They can't lower the percentage in some areas and raise it in others. They have to work with the # of passing people at the same level everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the way the DOE runs its school system is not deterring families from living in the city as the reason there are so few slots is that more and more families are staying in the city. The frustration is that the DOE does not keep up.

Anonymous said...

Ginger you're not alone. I too have been physically depressed about this year's kindergarten process for getting my child into a good school. What offends me in some articles written and some subsequent posts is that many assume that black middle class parents (i.e., people like me) don't want a good education for their kids and that we would happily send our kids to crappy zone schools. My daughter was lucky enough to get into a private school that I'll have to mortgage the rest of my life to send her to. I was hoping that I might be able to find a good public school alternative. So far I haven't had any luck, particularly with the new rules that the DOE has instituted which leave little flexibility for schools to accept out of zone kids. My fingers are crossed that there is still hope in the G&T scores that we are waiting to receive.

Anonymous said...

While I know many of the enrollment changes are about leveling the playing field, this year has been all about who has the time & chutzpah to figure out how the real process & who to schmooze. I recently found out that my local Borough of Enrollment office has told all the out-of-zone schools that I -- and my friends -- have applied to that they can't give extra spots to whomever they like as they have in years past, but starting this year parents must apply to the Borough Enrollment Office for a Placement Exception Request. So they are in fact implementing what we have been told would be next year's new policy now.

So for many, a lot of wasted time with Open House tours, interviews & letters of recommendation and so on. And while one school has said I can have a spot, I am told that the central office may want to put everyone else in the District ahead of me as I am from out of District. The school is in fact closer to me than most schools in my zone.

To me, the most absurd aspect of the Placement Exception is that wanting to be in a better performing school is not good enough, nor is wanting to be in a school with progressive teaching methodologies.

God forbid I just want a good education like the ones in the 2 charter schools my daughter didn't get into. AND, if everyone is applying to these charter schools, why not replicate them? In addition to a better education, they are the only place where we foster diversity & our race & culture does have a value when it comes to composing a class.

Aaargh. Parent's union, anyone?