2017 was a big year for New York City school news. Universal Pre-K was rolled out for 3 year-olds, even as the program for 4 year-olds struggled. There was a contentious elementary school rezoning on the Upper West Side, middle-school admissions came under the microscope, and yet another plan to diversify Specialized High Schools went nowhere, as did the attempt to quickly turn around failing Renewal Schools.
But while Mayor Bill de Blasio pontificates about the NYC he wants to see – and why you should want it, too, or else you’re a terrible person – New York School Talk (NYST) got a sense of what really matters to NYC parents, based on which blog posts generated the most traffic.
Here are the issues that concerned you the most, and what you can expect to happen with them in 2018:
5) NYC Kids Forced To Start Kindergarten Before Age 5 – Two Parents’ Perspectives
Summary: A pair of mothers shared their experience about what happened when they sent their December birthday babies to public school prior to their turning 5 years old.
Quote: “My efforts to have her held back at the public school fell on deaf ears, as she was not ‘behind enough.’ I worried that her self-esteem would start to take a hit as she progressed through school always being slightly behind.”
2018 Prediction: NYC will continue to have the latest birthday cut-off in the country.
4) NYC Should Give Parents More Flexibility on Kindergarten Start Dates
Summary: Does starting formal schooling before a child is developmentally ready do more harm than good?
Quote: “While one segment of the population is holding their children back to give them every opportunity to succeed, poor, minority kids are attending kindergarten younger at a higher rate. Anyone want to take a guess as to which of the two are more likely to be diagnosed with learning differences or behavioral problems or ADHD?”
2018 Prediction: More and more parents will opt for charter, religious and independent schools, many of which have more flexible cut-offs.
3) Two-Thirds of NYC Children Eligible For Gifted & Talented Programs Are Denied Access
Summary: In 2016, 4,539 NYC kindergarteners qualified for G&T programs, yet only 2,507 got offers.
Quote: “How do schools decide who gets in and who doesn’t? They hold a lottery. Yes, a lottery, playing Russian Roulette with a child’s education. This is literally an example of how two children of equal ability (assuming you believe that an IQ test administered to a four-year-old is predictive of anything) are unequally educated, based on a roll of the dice.”
2018 Prediction: School Chancellor Carmen Fariña has made it clear she doesn’t support G&T programs and has no intention of adding any, despite overwhelming demand.
2) NYC’s Top 10 Elementary Schools By Test Scores: What Makes Them Special And How You Can Get In
Summary: NYST reviewed the public gifted, General Ed, and charter schools that scored highest on the 2017 state tests, and their respective admissions requirements.
Quote: “At first glance, it would seem that being a school that evaluates children for admission is key. But how, then, to explain the Success Academies and Beacon School of Excellence, which take all comers but manage to achieve the same results, and even outscore dozens of schools with G&T programs?”
2018 Prediction: All of the above schools will become even more competitive and difficult to get into, as the Mayor nixes their attempts to expand.
1) 5 Secrets NYC Department of Ed Doesn’t Want Parents To Know About Gifted & Talented Programs
Summary: The date your child takes the test matters, test prep is rampant, there is no G&T curriculum, and more.
Quote: “Every year the DOE laments the low numbers of minority and low-income students who qualify for G&T programs. The best way to change that is to make sure all parents know all the secrets to getting in – including (especially) those the DOE doesn’t want you to know!”
2018 Predictions: The more parents learn how to beat the system, the more children will qualify for G&T – while the number of seats will remain flat. One district in the Bronx is offering all students a gifted education. Might others be persuaded to follow suit? Research suggests that America’s education bar is set too low for all kids.
These were the most distressing issues for New York School Talk readers in 2017. What are yours, and which would you like us to cover next year?
Tell us in the Comments!