On April 3, 2017, The New York Post broke the story of how Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, with the help of Chancellor Carmen Fariña, pulled strings to get his son into Park Slope’s top middle school. This is a blatant violation of rules that all families, connected or not, are expected to follow.
And here is what’s funny: In March, when Buery gleefully tweeted out the news that his son had gotten into Brooklyn Technical High-School, I responded that since Buery’s boss, the Mayor, once asserted the only way to get into any of NYC’s Specialized High-Schools was to “game the system” (this despite de Blasio’s own son being a Brooklyn Tech graduate), I looked forward to hearing how Buery had done so for the benefit of his child. I guess now we know.
After going through the Kindergarten admissions process with my three kids, and high school for my oldest, I wrote two books, Getting Into NYC Kindergarten and Getting Into NYC High-School, as well as started doing open to the public workshops and producing free podcasts and webisodes on the subject.
Why? Because I believe all New York City families are entitled to the same sort of school choice and accommodation that their current Deputy Mayor enjoys. One where they not only get to pick their child’s school independent of address, but are also joyfully greeted by city employees tripping over themselves to facilitate their requests.
Do I tell the parents who come to me how to game the system in their favor?
I give them concrete instructions, down to what language to use when working a waitlist. (Anyone who tells you schools follow a strictly numbered queue is lying, either to you or to themselves.)
I tell them whom to call and what to do when a school swears they don’t even have so much as one seat left.
I tell them how to get their children prepped for Gifted & Talented testing and offer a tool for calculating the optimal test date based on a child’s birthday. (It matters, which is something the Department of Education doesn’t want parents to know).
I advise them on how to strategically rank their school choices to maximize the odds of getting in, and even what toddler enrichment classes will raise their odds of acceptance. Yes, we’re still talking about public school here.
Furthermore, because I believe that you can’t have true school choice until all families know all of their choices and how to get them, I clue folks in about under the radar unzoned and magnet schools, application details that veteran parents guard like state secrets.
Do I feel guilty about disrupting NYC’s alleged even playing field?
I do not.
Because I know the playing field is ridiculously uneven. Government officials demand private tours of schools they’re not qualified to attend because they don’t even live in NYC yet. Universal Pre-K teachers tells me that their parents aren’t receiving adequate instruction about how to fill out Kindergarten Connect, much less the Request for Testing Gifted & Talented forms. High school parents lament that their children are being railroaded into local, failing schools in order to fill enrollment quotas.
So that’s why I’m going to keep on putting my hard-won, inside information out there – for free and for all – until the playing field is truly even.
You got a problem with that, Mr. Deputy Mayor?