• The parents may not have felt the differences were as stark as those between McDonald's and Bar Corvo.

    They may have felt the difference is merely akin to McDonald's versus Dutch Boy.

    In this instance, both were very similar in price. Given the circumstances, I'd probably choose Dutch Boy too.

    ....even if it made some people conclude I didn't like the faces of those at McDonalds.
  • What am I looking for?  I'm not even sure.  My father always worked at private schools so his kids could go to them for basically free.  I also work at a private school, but not full time.  Even with tuition remission or a large financial aid package it seems like every available cent not spent on rent gets sucked into fees like gym clothes, expensive field trips, galas with $250 tickets you're expected to buy etc.  There's also the fact of seeing classmates come back from incredibly extravagant trips and other aspects of the extreme financial differences that makes me a little uncomfortable.  In no small part of watching this actual conversation happen here, I have begun thinking much more seriously about public school as a reality.  But I honestly have no idea what it all entails.  

    In my limited research P.S. 705 does hold initial appeal, but I'm not sure if this is because it advertises itself the best.  I also wonder how or if it would be possible to try to get to somewhere like PS 9.  Probably due to my comfort with alternative education, the standards that the public schools often use to measure excellence are less important or even opposite to what I find important.  I don't want too much early academic work for example.  But without any exposure to the public school education I don't even know what the differences are.  

    I still have a couple years before I have to decide, but this feels like such a monumental undertaking that I want to familiarize myself with the process ahead of time.  I wouldn't mind being a part of a larger group of parents, but I don't actually feel up for organizing such a push to change anything.  In a school setting I would like very much to volunteer time and efforts and contribute.  I find arts and foreign language very important.  And yes, I would like diversity.  I'm not even using that word euphemistically.   But I feel very lost about how to do any of it.  
  • I just feel so demoralized by district 17. From the general lack of response by the district leadership to the lack of transparency at individual schools, I, like tateinbk, just have no idea where to start. I feel like I want to send some letters to people who can do something on a district wide level, but with the crazy doe structure, it is really hard to figure out who holds our district superintendent accountable for the qualities of our district schools.
  • Perhaps not. The way she emphasized the word "face," and prefaced her remark with, "I'm going to be blunt," led me to this interpretation, however.

    Having spoken to one of these parents, I do not think that was what was at play.
  • I don't think it is fair to expect schools with different inputs, to be able to create the same outputs.
  • or it could have been the difference between a new mcdonalds with no customers and an eager franchisee ready to let you shape what the mcdonald's becomes simply by being a vocal customer, and an old mcdonalds, that already has regulars with their own customs, needs and wants. in any event, i personally don't think it's really fair or productive to engage in this kind of speculation and accusation if you truly want your schools to grow. i would suggest if people are curious about 316, they talk to the principal and parents and make their own conclusions. same with 705. I heard some pretty preposterous stuff about PS 9 before we decided to send our kids there. enough good stuff too that i dug a little deeper on the bad stuff and found a lot of it was simply not true, exaggerated, or very old news. you don't know what's going on with individual parents, where they get their information, or how or why they're making their conclusions. I'm glad I did my own research.

    i think what 705 and 9 both show is that schools can become more integrated over time, and it can happen in different ways and in different settings. it doesn't have to be hard. like whynot said, you can just get 10 friends in your zone and show up on enrollment day and see what happens. but it's just like anything else -- the more preparation, the better the chance it'll turn out how you want. not rocket science, really.

    of course, one part of preparation is information and along those lines I'm curious to know how district 17 schools are not transparent. do you mean they are less transparent than other district's schools?

    this is just my opinion, but i don't think letters do anything. if you want to "do something," you could try going to some relevant meetings (CEC, community board, educations forums like the one whynot posted) and asking for help. "here's what i want to do, where do i start?" don't leave until you get one name of someone who can help you.
  • I think the part about changing the curriculum has to FOLLOW the part where you successfully change the demographics of the student body.

    First one gets power, then one uses it.
  • To Esperanza, who asked what other progressive(ish) schools we looked at:

    In Brooklyn, the ones we looked at were Brooklyn New School (although they take kids from all over Brooklyn, no D17 family can get in here as a first-round K admission because D13, 14, 15, and 16 have preference for some (political?) reason and take all the spots in the first round; D17 kids may be able to get in off the wait list though); Brooklyn Arbor in D14; and Community Roots and Compass, which are both D13 charter schools.  

    In Manhattan, we applied for the four D1 progressives that xlizellx mentioned (Earth School, Neighborhood School, Children's Workshop, East Village Community School), Ella Baker, Central Park East, Lower Lab, and one school in Chelsea that I can't remember.  I don't remember the PS#s for all of these schools but they're Google-able.

    We (happily!) got into one of the D1 schools.  We have friends in D16 who also got into D1 schools.
  • Sprucenik, many thanks!
  • whynot, i am not sure i know what you mean. but i can say that it's probably short-sighted to assume that the parents who are already in these schools wouldn't be interested in some of the same things that "tate" is interested in, and that they wouldn't appreciate tate's help in getting them. dual language programs, for example.
  • with respect to Brooklyn New School, those preferences have been set for some time. i don't know the history, but i know that unzoned schools often are designed with specific set-asides at inception. PS 133 in park slope is a good example. It is a district 13 school, but its new building was built with District 15 funds on the condition that there be a specific set-aside for District 15 students. once the building was completed, the DOE proposed to eliminate PS 133's school zone and make 133 into a choice school for D15 and D13 students according to the set-aside. the CECs forced the DOE to include lottery preferences for low-income and english learner families, and agreed to the de-zoning.

  • Existing parents of existing students could certainly be allies, but my sense is that forming a cadre of parents who are willing to enroll their kids in a future school year (2014?,  2015? 2016?) addresses problems that are larger than a lack of Dual Language programs.

    My opinion stems from what I hear happened at PS9:

    -In approximately 2006, parents of 2 and 3 year olds became annoyed that their local playground (Underhill Playground) was often used by teenagers who smoked weed, littered, and generally "owned" the playground.   The play equipment was in a state of disrepair.        

    -As the numbers of such parents grew, they decided that THEY could take over the playground certain hours.    They worked closely with the parks dept to get an attendant, who enforced the existing "you can't be in a playground unless you are accompanied by a child" rule.   The police were involved on a few occasions.

    -The playground was renovated and received new equipment.    The renovation took so long that parents created a petition to get the work done faster.

    -When it opened, the playground got a lock and volunteers agreed to open and lock the playground each morning and night.

    Out of the above experience, a cadre was formed.   

    As time past, this cadre decided that -together- they could provide a group of classmates to each other that was "ready to learn".    Starting in approximately 2009, they stated to the principal that they wanted their children to all be enrolled in one, first grade class.    The principal arranged same, "their kids" constituted about half of that classroom, and word spread like wildfire.


    PS9 then quickly began to reflect the "increasingly fortunate" families who lived immediately around it, and has now become a very sought after school.    ...its future students can be seen daily at the Underhill Playground.


    Note:   Parents of children who may have been a part of PS9's "resurgence" should feel free to comment on the accuracy of the above.  Quite some time has passed, and this is how I remember the story being described to me...
  • I'm not up for helping much at the moment.  I'm not joking when I say I literally have no idea what the standard public school curriculum is as xlizellz states is standard.  I don't know if the grade teacher is with them all day or if there are subject teachers.  I don't know if there is a standard or if this differs from school to school.  I would be interested in learning if there are gym facilities and what kinds of arts are offered.  I have been in two public high schools, once to get my working papers at 15 and once to observe my roommate teaching for a professional development day.  Do elementary schools have the metal detectors and x-ray machines I remember when I went to get my working papers?  In the school day I observed, the school's gym classes consisted of the kids running up and down the staircases because there were no facilities.  What is the standard?  This is why I say being able to get even into the building of district and local schools would be helpful to me, even if the students are not around.  

    I really like this area and so far feel lucky to have the apartment I have.  But I always have the option of moving into a much smaller space at equal cost, in Manhattan's Upper West/Manhattan Valley (D3) area.  When I search for the district there it says there are no special zoning instructions for this area.  What does this even mean?  
  • xlizellx said:

    Community Roots is the only charter that felt like a great school out of the many I have visited. That said, why can't we get parents and teachers opening public schools? I work in the east village where many of the progressive schools were started by parents. Yes, this was 30ish years ago, but that's where the noise came from.



    This http://bed-stuy.patch.com/listings/the-brooklyn-brownstone-school is the most recent example I know of a "new" (2008?) parent led public school in the nearby area (I think this is D16 although it accepts kids out of district).
  • xlizellx said:

    I taught in my district for years.  I didn't leave because I didn't like many aspects of it - but because there are no progressive schools in the district.  
    I feel it's wrong to allow whole districts to have only more-of-the-same schools.  There is not a single school that identifies as progressive in districts 17 or 18 -- two districts I taught in for years.

    Xlizellx what do you mean by "progressive"?  Do you mean a school not using the common core curriculum? 
  • Progressive might mean a more hands-on style of learning.
  • I suspect that administrators of "high need" districts are not allowed to pursue "progressive" methods because they are seen as building on both a solid foundation of knowledge, and a strong support system.

    Sadly, many children in our city have neither.

    ...so the teachers with this expertise gravitate toward the areas where their students are more likely to be ready to learn.
      
  • It is really not fair that districts 13 and 15 have priority at schools like arts and letters, community roots and the brooklyn new school, and district 17 kids get nothing like that.
  • To help readers out, here's a visual of the boundaries of the various districts.   
    D13 is in orange.   
    D15 is below it, to the left of the park

     
    csd13_map_cropped
  • Have to agree with CrownHeightster. Though the Devils Advocates will argue that folks in those districts pay for the schools via taxes and how much the homes cost.

    Though looking at Inside Schools and Great Schools shows these schools are mostly segregated.
  • Unlike other NYS school districts, NYC property taxes do not directly contribute to school budgets. If they did, the public would have to vote on a school budget, like they do in the 'burbs.
  • clayfilms said:

    xlizellx said:

    I taught in my district for years.  I didn't leave because I didn't like many aspects of it - but because there are no progressive schools in the district.  
    I feel it's wrong to allow whole districts to have only more-of-the-same schools.  There is not a single school that identifies as progressive in districts 17 or 18 -- two districts I taught in for years.

    Xlizellx what do you mean by "progressive"?  Do you mean a school not using the common core curriculum? 





    No - that isn't legal for a public school. Progressive as in kids help lead learning.it isn't top-down taught by the teacher. It is experience-based, exploratory, and inquiry-based.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_education

    For example, there are no lectures or text books - but rather artifacts used for critical analysis, observations, trips, etc. to learn the same content.

    The reason why CCSS and progressive education are at times combative with one another is that progressive education is individual for each kid - books to read on their "just right" level, texts selected often based on interest, and more differentiation than a standard/traditional school.
  • Thanks for the explanation!
  • We all pay equally for the schools. Through our taxes, I believe. I think the difference is that the DOE distributes the money to each district based on some formula of how many kids might live in a district, and then the district is in charge of allocating the funding. The big differences between schools is balance of how much federal title 1 funding they get for having a certain percent if students living at or below poverty, and the affluence if the PTA to raise money for extras like art, field trips, and special programs. If I'm wrong, someone let me know .... It just always seems that district 15 and 13 kids get priority at ALL if the progressive and interesting schools, and district 17 kids get law-n-order style charters that only seek to get the kids to understand the 'middle class values' of punctuality and test performance. We Do have ps 705 and the new American academy, so all is not lost I guesss
  • Whynot, your comments about how PS 9 began to "integrate" are very interesting. I think another relevant element to attracting these "new" families to PS 9 was the offering of a gifted and talented program (started 3-4 years ago??). I've heard stories from neighborhood families zoned for PS 9 who have recently chosen to send their kids elsewhere because they did not get into the gifted program. They didn't want their child in the general ed class at PS 9. Today, the school does attract students of different races and economics BUT the gifted classes are 95% white and the general education classes are 95% students of color. This might vary per grade but the racial segregation is very visible if you were to walk into a gifted class versus general education class. So PS 9 has found a way to get these families in the door but the school remains pretty segregated within.

    HOWEVER, often schools that want to attract new populations start a gifted program (or more recently, dual language) and then years down the road, get rid of it once there is a more racial and economic balance. This has happened at PS 10 in Park Slope and PS 261 in Boerum Hill. Both schools used to have gifted programs but phased them out in recent years and now are quite diverse and high performing academically. It will be interesting to see if PS 9 drops the gifted program in a few years once the scales tip and the racial and economic ratios are represented differently. I'm not advocating that schools in District 17 start more gifted programs but it seems to be a tactic.

  • Unlike other NYS school districts, NYC property taxes do not directly contribute to school budgets. If they did, the public would have to vote on a school budget, like they do in the 'burbs.



    True but schools in more affluent areas have parents with more money and connections to fund the school through the PTA and annual auctions etc. The parents are able to raise large sums of private money to subsidize their child's limited school budget. This is a huge advantage and obviously an unfair one. Clearly, if some schools are raising a million dollars of private money (PS 107 in Park Slope has in the past), their budgets could stand to be increased! This extreme fundraising undermines the need to increase all school budgets!! In a decent world, no school would have to fundraise-- especially not to the tune of a million dollars!

    http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20121001/park-slope/ps-321s-pta-aims-raise-nearly-1-million-this-year
  • Nearsighted wrote:
    "So PS 9 has found a way to get these families in the door but the school remains pretty segregated within. "

    They certainly did not invent that wheel.    Up thread, I recounted my high school experience RE: such issues on Feb 6th.
  • I've heard that PS 316 is starting (or has started) a gifted & talented program. Curious to hear from parents whose kids are actually at that school or PS 138, both of which seem fairly decent in recent years, rather than speculating.

    And whynot, you can be sure that there are plenty of parents around here who are discussing public schools in person, whether or not such discussions ever make it onto an online forum. Though I'm not sure if we're a "cadre," or care to be.
  • That's no surprise :)

    I do hope you are successful soon, because spending lots of $ on a private school, moving, or faking an address seem like lousy options.

    Do we have any PS316 or PS138 parents here?
  • I am near PS 161. They have a G and T but I've heard it's being phased out. Also, the school had its glory days so to speak, but changed once they got another principal who let in all students in who applied. I read somewhere the old principal used more "selective" practices (if not illegal).
  • The children of the PS9 cadre of parents I described above, now appear to be in the Third Grade.

    http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140528/prospect-heights/parents-boycotting-standardized-test-for-prospect-heights-third-graders
  • I believe this was the inaugural year for 316's G&T. At least that's what the principal told me they were planning last spring. She is very committed, and hands on. She had grand plans of applying for PYP (primary years program- the elementary extension of the International Baccelaureate). I don't see them being approved, but the fact that she's open to such an inquiry-based, interdisciplinary curriculum speaks volumes. This may be the "progressive" school folks are seeking after all.

    My personal problem with 316 is the lack of supervision at dismissal, as well as the tolerance of violence and obscene language on the playground. If this elusive "cadre" of which whynot speaks we're to materialize, I might be game.
  • as a parent at ps 9, I just wanted to correct some misinformation above so that it's not sitting out there in the ether.

    it is completely and utterly not true that the g&t classes are 95% white. the composition varies from year to year and grade to grade as the DOE continues to place kids in the class from all over the district, but if I had to guess, I would say the program is probably 35% white overall and even in the younger grades it is far less dominant white than the "progressive" charter/choice schools that regularly tout their diversity.

    the gen ed classes are less diverse, agreed, but it is nowhere near 95% black as suggested above, especially now that there are dual language and ICT classes. i agree to some extent that the presence of g&t (and possibly dual language) is slowing the integration of gen ed classes, and that is something there is a lot of ambivalence about at the school. the gen ed teachers are good, the curriculum is planned jointly across the grade, classes get the same enrichments, the kids mix in a variety of ways, many of the parents are very involved & all resources are shared equally...but it is very difficult when there is "presorting" and your kid is sorted out.

    unfortunately, the DOE is not likely to end what is a very popular and very successful g&t program, especially in the regime where "school choice" is king. the last time parents at PS 9 got together to try to end g&t, there were a lot of vocal families from *outside* the school's "gentrifier" families (i.e., the parents who were here well before whynot's "cadre,") that have relied on g&t for their own school choice who strongly wanted to keep the program. complicated!

    much more to say, but ultimately the point is that PS 9 is working really well for a lot of people - it can always get better but as far as diversity and school culture go (and, of course, the actual educating of actual kids), it's a good place doing a lot of good things. and now I will return your to crown heights schools discussion. :)










  • The test is part of a much larger problem. One can only assume that some of the kids getting into those schools had additional tutoring or other ways to give them a "leg-up" so to speak. Perhaps part of it is the environment the kids grow up in. Another is some kids simply don't test well. I have a friend who studied law and hasn't passed the bar exam after over seven tries. A more holistic examination of students' abilities, both in and out of the classroom, would level the playing field.
  • Many of the kids that take that test attend extra tutoring classes. The city used to provide such classes for free and many middle schools used to run their own prep programs. Almost all of those have gone away now. The city has one prep program, but in order to get in you have to have gotten high scores on the 5th grade standardized exams, have a minimum gpa and a minimum attendance rate for school. This weeds out a lot of kids who 1) don't blossom academically until later in middle school, 2) are good testers but bad classroom students, 3) have issues at home that interrupt their schooling (homelessness, illness, etc).
  • I think that it is really difficult to change the admissions structure to the elite public high schools program. The Standardized High School Admission Test (SHSAT), like the LSAT and the MCAT, fairly accurately predicts how well students will do in a truly academically rigorous environment. If you don't do well on the SHSAT, you probably won't do well at an elite public high school, where the curriculum is structured in such a way that the teachers assume a large amount of base knowledge and academic readiness. These schools are not set up to provide remedial education, except through an optional summer program that takes kids who performed at a borderline level on the exam and gets them ready for the elite schools. 

    So, adjusting the admissions formula to these schools will be awfully hard, because on one hand you have the argument that prepping for the test, either on your own with the prep book or through a prep class or because you went to PS 321 and had a great education and test well, rewards those who really want to be at the high school. On the other hand, you have he truly disheartening de facto segregation of these schools in terms of the number of Black and Hispanic students, and any formula that tries to increase their representation will be accused of being race affirmative action, which is politically untenable and not smiled upon by many courts. 

    My solution, all you politicos who read this blog, is that only by increasing the academic rigor of all NYC elementary and middle schools will you really be able to solve the root problem. If more kids are academically ready, then more kids have the cognitive skills and study skills to be able to succeed at the SHSAT and those elite schools. And I'd give every NYC public school student a free SHSAT prep book in 5th or 6th grade, along with an annual program that raised awareness about the elite high schools and the admissions stuff you have to do in order to get in. And I'd hire additional guidance counselors at any school with, say, more than 40% free lunch attendance, so that they can identify students who could be successful at the elite schools and push them to prepare for the test and help with the high school admissions process.

    I'm fairly passionate about this subject. I got into an elite high school and an elite college on the merit of my exam scores (as well as my GPA), which I prepared for diligently on my own, with library rental prep books. My family did not expect that much and did not believe in test prep, so I do fully believe that kids who really want the elite high school experience will figure out how to get in. Of course, even knowing that schools like Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech exist is a huge part of the game...and you can't prep for an opportunity that has never been presented to you as an option. Truly hard stuff to grapple with. 

    It is my hope that if NYC elementary and middle schools really up their game, and get students excited about learning, that there will be so many qualified students passing the SHSAT that they will have to open more elite high schools. And wouldn't that be amazing?
  • Wow, I had no idea that there was no school-based tutoring for these kids. This just pushes out more and more kids. I read the numbers for one of the top schools, under 30 Latino and African-American students in a school of 952. How can this be legal?
  • It is legal because it uses the same methods as school districts that do not have racially diverse populations.

    For example, imagine a largely racially homogeneous district on Long Island: Smithtown.

    In that case, just about everyone is white. However, thru testing, the most fortunate of the kids get into the AP programs.

    ...most of the time, they are the children of parents who have experienced a great deal of success (doctors, lawyers, etc). Some of the time, they are the children of less fortunate parents who spent their entire childhoods preparing them for such opportunities.

    Is NYC any different?
  • Probably the best that NYC offers is the Specialized High School Institute, which is a program to help economically disadvantaged students prepare for the exam. http://schools.nyc.gov/offices/shsi/default.htm

    But, like homeowner said, only kids who score a certain level on the 5th grade exams can get in. However, I would have to imagine that there is some kind of petition process, where if a talented student became homeless in the fifth grade and did not do well on the exams because of that reason, then a principal could petition to get the child into the Institute...at least I would hope that is the case.
  • I think that the lack of Black and Hispanic students in the elite high schools is a result of the crappy, uninspired curriculum that many of these students are forced to endure in the lower schools (especially middle school, which seems to be a black hole in the NYC DOE). Add in the disruption caused by really struggling students with behavioral issues, and school violence, and you get large groups of kids for whom school is not a respite or the place they want to be. For whatever reason (or we could just call it racism or classism), schools serving the most disadvantaged students and minorities seem to think that boring, rote or military-disciline style curriculum is the way to get kids excited about learning. I don't think anything can be further from the truth. And I think that kills whatever joy the students get out of learning, and makes it harder to get them to think of even applying to the elite high schools. 
  • I believe this was the inaugural year for 316's G&T. At least that's what the principal told me they were planning last spring. She is very committed, and hands on. She had grand plans of applying for PYP (primary years program- the elementary extension of the International Baccelaureate). I don't see them being approved, but the fact that she's open to such an inquiry-based, interdisciplinary curriculum speaks volumes. This may be the "progressive" school folks are seeking after all.

    My personal problem with 316 is the lack of supervision at dismissal, as well as the tolerance of violence and obscene language on the playground. If this elusive "cadre" of which whynot speaks we're to materialize, I might be game.



    Hi,

     

    First off, wow. Haven't been on this site with any regularity in about a year and a half. Hi all!

    Our daughter has been at 316 since Pre-K, she's now 7 and wrapping up 2nd grade. My wife has been heavily involved here for the last four years, serving at various points on both the PTA and the SLT. 316 is really a great school, with, at least in our experience, dedicated teachers as well as great music and science programs. Our son will also be starting there next school year in Pre-K. Ms. Maloof, the current principal, is in fact working very hard to continue making improvements to all aspects of the school. The G&T program just started this year, and as of now I believe only encompasses Pre-K and Kindergarten, with plans to expand to higher greades. Very little to complain about here.

    Regarding the post I've quoted above - be sure you're not experiencing the middle school located on the second floor of the same building. By and large, the older kids do indeed use foul language, and fights often break out on the sidewalks and even on school grounds. I'm also sure that some kids in 316, particularly on the playground or when the school lets out, also get into some foul language issues. But that happens far less than the middle school kids.


     

  • Kids who come from homes where they weren't read to, and there is no "in home homework support" stand a minuscule chance of excelling.

    Tutoring programs have limited power.
  • One other thing to keep in mind is that there is now more competition for talented black and hispanic students to attend elite private schools, both in NYC and boarding schools. I'm seeing a lot of kids opting into this track through programs like Prep for Prep, A Better Chance, Oliver Scholars, etc. that didn't exist at the same scale when most of us were coming up. These programs pull a lot of kids out of the pipeline for the elite public schools. Not to mention there are five additional elite public schools now including ones in Queens and Staten Island. Some of those students are kids that would have traditionally ended up in one of the big three.
  • One of my kids took the test for the three high schools and did not get accepted,
    she tested very well, but many kids did better. The admission is merit based.

    The "elite" HS schools are just that, They take the cream of the crop, over 20 thousand applicants for a very limited number of seats.

    A large percentage of the students that are accepted are Asian. They are children that in many cases don't speak English at home, their parents work
    long hours and families in many cases live in poor homes.

    So do we tell Asians that their hard work to get in doesn't count?
  • That's a question that's come up in California where the UC Berkley has become a majority minority school with asians making up almost 40% of undergrads and all other minorities representing another 27%. One of the interesting developments has been that as the African American population continues to drop, the number of accepted AA students that choose to attend the school has also dropped precipitously (in 2013 only 40% of those accepted chose to attend). I think Stuyvesant has some of the same problems where kids don't feel like they will be represented and therefore choose a school where they'll be less of a minority. It will be interesting to see how many of the seven kids (or 21 Latinos) they admitted this year will actually start school on day 1.
  • Changing the test is a horrible idea. The problem is crappy middle schools that are doing a terrible job at preparing students for this test. The city needs to pour more money into improving middle schools, bringing back arts education in middle schools, offering free after school test prep for anyone who wants it, and hiring more guidance counselors.The middle schools in NYC are horrible and most don't teach algebra which is MANDATORY if you want to do well on the SHSAT.


  • I think that it is really difficult to change the admissions structure to the elite public high schools program. The Standardized High School Admission Test (SHSAT), like the LSAT and the MCAT, fairly accurately predicts how well students will do in a truly academically rigorous environment. If you don't do well on the SHSAT, you probably won't do well at an elite public high school, where the curriculum is structured in such a way that the teachers assume a large amount of base knowledge and academic readiness. These schools are not set up to provide remedial education, except through an optional summer program that takes kids who performed at a borderline level on the exam and gets them ready for the elite schools. 


    So, adjusting the admissions formula to these schools will be awfully hard, because on one hand you have the argument that prepping for the test, either on your own with the prep book or through a prep class or because you went to PS 321 and had a great education and test well, rewards those who really want to be at the high school. On the other hand, you have he truly disheartening de facto segregation of these schools in terms of the number of Black and Hispanic students, and any formula that tries to increase their representation will be accused of being race affirmative action, which is politically untenable and not smiled upon by many courts. 

    My solution, all you politicos who read this blog, is that only by increasing the academic rigor of all NYC elementary and middle schools will you really be able to solve the root problem. If more kids are academically ready, then more kids have the cognitive skills and study skills to be able to succeed at the SHSAT and those elite schools. And I'd give every NYC public school student a free SHSAT prep book in 5th or 6th grade, along with an annual program that raised awareness about the elite high schools and the admissions stuff you have to do in order to get in. And I'd hire additional guidance counselors at any school with, say, more than 40% free lunch attendance, so that they can identify students who could be successful at the elite schools and push them to prepare for the test and help with the high school admissions process.

    I'm fairly passionate about this subject. I got into an elite high school and an elite college on the merit of my exam scores (as well as my GPA), which I prepared for diligently on my own, with library rental prep books. My family did not expect that much and did not believe in test prep, so I do fully believe that kids who really want the elite high school experience will figure out how to get in. Of course, even knowing that schools like Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech exist is a huge part of the game...and you can't prep for an opportunity that has never been presented to you as an option. Truly hard stuff to grapple with. 

    It is my hope that if NYC elementary and middle schools really up their game, and get students excited about learning, that there will be so many qualified students passing the SHSAT that they will have to open more elite high schools. And wouldn't that be amazing?


    YESSS!!!! THIS!!!
  • I have a tough time believing that the zoned elementary and middle schools can get the students who come with multiple obstacles excited about learning to the degree that they can compete.

    Although they target a subset, the schools homeowner mentions seem to be our best shot at creating upward class mobility: Prep for Prep, A Better Chance, Oliver Scholars, etc.

  • whynot_31 said:

    I have a tough time believing that the zoned elementary and middle schools can get the students who come with multiple obstacles excited about learning to the degree that they can compete.

    Although they target a subset, the schools homeowner mentions seem to be our best shot at creating upward class mobility: Prep for Prep, A Better Chance, Oliver Scholars, etc.



    It's possible. It just takes hard work and teachers and parents who care about teaching kids to love to learn.
  • Agree, the change must come from the elementary and middle schools to prepare all students to compete for the most selective seats.

    In the interim, changing the admissions process is a terrible idea. The kids who get in now work very hard to do so. If they give up their afternoons and weekend to cram for the test, they have proven that they are willing to put the work in to be eligible for a seat. It is not sufficient to be good enough, the applicants must be close to perfect.

    It is my understanding that the test and admission criteria is race blind and is not responsive to political pressure. Let's keep it that way.
  • This article seems to argue that as long as there is segregation, we will blame more convenient (and less fraught) targets, like teacher tenure:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2014/06/vergara_v_california_the_court_s_decision_to_gut_teacher_tenure_will_not.html
  • Spot on.
  • Here are a lot of citywide statistics:

    http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/2014edindicatorsreport.pdf

    However, as we have discussed, no child goes to a school that represents the city. So, the stats are interesting, but not real relevant to the average parent.

    Without being this succinct, this article takes the stance that without better parents, the schools can't succeed: http://www.citylimits.org/conversations/259/improving-school-engagement
  • Totally agree that parental engagement is key. Perhaps it's worth mentioning that the current educational model is based upon an older model. If I recall, the main purpose was to prepare students for menial work via reading, writing and arithmetic.

    I also wonder if part of the reason the US has such a huge educational gap is because it is such a diverse country. Many of the countries that immigrants come from places where the value of knowledge is not placed in book learning. For them it might be a countries oral tradition, agricultural, etc.

    In the end, it might not be logical to compare the US to countries, say Finland, or attempt to implement those educational "best practices" here.
  • Members of the City Council have decided to spend a lot of time discussing school segregation:

    http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5390-new-york-city-council-takes-on-school-segregation

    There are no easy solutions....
  • At least they're talking. About time. Fingers crossed for a solution of some sort.

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