Finding the Right School

NYC Parents Sound Off On Department Of Education Incompetence! (Part #2)

On January 21, I wrote about Kids Left Waiting In the Cold as NYC Public Schools Cancel G&T Testing – But Don’t Notify Parents!

This disaster was hardly the only one of the 2018-2019 admissions season. After my post  ran, more parents contacted me. You can read their Department of Education stories of incompetence below. If you’re applying to schools for 2020, remember, forewarned is forearmed:

My daughter went into the test room excited to play brain games. She came out an hour later crying, shaking, and deeply troubled. She told me the teacher spent the whole session shaking her head in disapproval and told her constantly that she was getting questions wrong and doing a bad job. Is this normal or acceptable behavior? I would assume the test giver should remain neutral, if not positive, definitely not negative or discouraging.


My son took the rescheduled g&t [Gifted & Talented] exam this morning for kindergarten and after the test he told us he had to fill in a circle for every answer. Everything we read and heard stated clearly that the 4 year olds will be pointing to their answers and we had prepared for that, so I was shocked to hear that he was made to fill in the circle for his answers with a pencil. The motor skills needed to fill in the circle alone are a total distraction from the focus needed to answer the questions and I just wanted to share this story with you as a testament to how incredibly screwed up this entire process has been.


My son’s gifted and talented test was rescheduled because of weather last Sunday, he took it today the 27th, this brings him in another age group of grading. Can I fight this? For 2 days he turned 4 and a half because they rescheduled. (Ed. Note: To see why the date on which your child takes the G&T test is critical, click here.)


So despite the ok weather, my daughter’s test was cancelled today. I had to bribe my kiddo all week with treats etc and gear her up for the test. Now she is delighted and says she will not do the test in the future! Argh. Pissed off is an understatement.


When the signup began, I couldn’t sign up for over two weeks. No confirmation, no date, and yet dashboard registered me as scheduled. I went on another email address I have to see if that would work. I fared no better there. I finally managed to get a date and time with my first email address. In December, I received a letter and dashboard indicates same info. Then I got an email at second email address and I wrote them that I never chose that strange test center 100 blocks from me. They wrote back asking where I was scheduled and when. I wrote them. The second email address ONLY wrote me about the cancellation. And wrote me I’m now scheduled at their center (which I never selected or knew about except for an email) on January 27. I now have the dashboard saying one thing (though that center didn’t cancel me) and another far away center saying I’m scheduled for next week. I don’t know what’s going on. The entire experience is disgraceful from beginning to end. I’m a single mom with a full time job and it shouldn’t be another job to get a child registered for testing. Also very anxiety-making.


My son took the test at his school with 3 other kindergartners. One of the kids was disruptive and had multiple warnings. He then decided he didn’t want to complete the test but the proctor made him stay in the room anyway. For all the rules the DOE allegedly has in place about disruptions, they didn’t follow any of them here. On another note, parents of a kindergartner I know didn’t get notified that their daughter would be taking the test on a certain date (the 48 hour notice that all parents are supposed to get). It might not seem like a huge deal, but we gave my son a pep talk the morning of the test to double check he filled out all the answers and he came back from the test and said he had missed a page but remembered what we said and went back and did it. So it kind of matters that a 5 yo didn’t get last minute advice from her parents.


In between scheduling our test for our child and receiving a confirmation in December, a family event came up. I emailed the DOE as soon as I learned of the event who told me to wait until the confirmation letters are sent out. Since receiving that letter in December, I emailed the folks no less than 10 times asking for a rescheduling option and explained our situation. Not a single email was even acknowledged. Eventually, we gave up and decided to skip the family event (I promise we will hear about this until my daughter has children of her own from some family members!). On the Friday evening before our scheduled  test, someone emailed us saying they have received the email and will get back to us about rescheduling. Sigh. It’s really given us pause about this whole NYC public school system and forcing us to consider the private school route more seriously.


I received the below email:

Thank you for applying to Brooklyn New School for kindergarten.  We ask our applicant families to fill out a Brooklyn New School Kindergarten Outreach Questionnaire, available here.

I found the attached questionnaire very invasive and discriminatory. Particularly considering I won’t know for months whether my daughter will get into this school and whether my responses would impact her admission. (Ed. Note: Several of the questions are either covered by the Kindergarten Connect application, or ones schools are not allowed to ask prospective families. And while schools say it won’t affect your admission chances, other unzoned schools have been accused of cherry-picking students in the past in a similar manner.)


The new website is not at all user friendly and, although Carranza’s and de Blasio’s rhetoric says this new system would make things better by giving the power of registration to the parents, in fact, it makes searching for information more difficult. It is incomprehensible to me that NYC spent millions of taxpayers money for so little return.  If NYC DOE were a publicly traded company, this would call for an emergency shareholders meeting to decide whether… to remove and replace the leaders.


After my first post ran, I received a handful of emails accusing me of deliberately focusing on bad things happening in NYC schools.

While I concur with Tolstoy that “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” I would, well, be happy to hear your stories of good things happening in NYC schools.

Please share them in the Comments section!


What do you think?

2 thoughts on “NYC Parents Sound Off On Department Of Education Incompetence! (Part #2)

  1. My name is Ruth and I follow you and reading your emails since I moved to NY in 2017 because I want a best education I could give to my daughters. I just want to share my experience with you – that I’m gonna be sincerely… I thought It would be better but not… it was disappointing….. I have an almost 5 years old daughter that’s going to kindergarten this year. She took the G&T exam on January, her first language -like me- is Spanish but she Is learning too fast. She took it in Spanish because I know she could do it; also I prepared her for the test. At the end, the person who gave her the exam says: “I am sure she are not going to pass the test… I can give her English lessons at my home if you want to”.- I am still feeling frustrate about the system and the way they manage the information. If my daughter did not passed the test with the score required, It’s ok for me, she can have more opportunities,,,, but… come on! that person was very unprofessional.

More Comments