Here's one way to deal with the disheartening and overwhelming school admissions process in New York City: don't apply.
A growing number of the city's families who are choosing to homeschool are middle-class black families who believe the options open to them won't sufficiently challenge or support their children, particularly their boys, according to an article in the Village Voice. Instead, those parents present an enriched curriculum, often with an Afrocentric orientation, in a setting that's free from bullying and other negative social pressures. There are downsides, of course — one parent has to give up working, school supplies and enrichment activities cost money, and it can be hard for kids to make friends — but according to the Voice, more black parents every year think homeschooling pays off in academic achievement, safety, and self-esteem.
I've always thought that New York City would be a great place to homeschool — it's sort of absurd that in a city with such deep cultural, artistic, and academic resources, kids sit in classrooms all day. But homeschooling, like any other alternative school choice, should be a positive choice, not a means to escaping schools that can't meet kids' academic and social needs.