Gearing up for the new school year? August is the new September.

We’re still in the dog days of summer and summer vacation is in full swing – kids are in camp, summer hours are in effect at the office and it’s hot -- real hot. If school starts after Labor Day there is still one month left of summer for the kids. So why am I seeing first day of school photos all over my social media accounts already? It seems like school starts in August ,or even July, in many parts of the country. Here in the northeast public school starts September 8th but most charter schools kids have either started school this week or will be headed back in the next week or so.

It's back to school time for some but not for others. When it comes to independent schools most, if not all, begin after Labor Day, the official end of summer fun. For the thousands of kids in pre-k this year who’s parents are considering private school for kindergarten the time to consider applications is now.

Applying to one of these schools is a multi-step process that involves completing written or online applications, screening tests, school tours, separate parent and child in-person interviews and financial documentation (if requesting financial assistance).

Consider these facts:

  1. Most people apply to 8-10 schools
  1. Between parent tours, parent interviews and child playdates, there will be 24-30 visits to schools during a roughly three-month period
  1. Including a modest 30 minute travel time, working parents will miss 56-65 hours of work during this time (not including time to complete applications and other required paperwork)

Our annual kindergarten admissions panel & school fair is a one-stop shop where you can meet admission directors and gather all of the information you need for a successful application. Some schools stop accepting applications early once they’ve reached a maximum number so getting an early start puts you ahead of the masses. The event takes place Monday, August 29, 2016, 6pm at Ephesus Church, 101 W 123rd Street. You don't want to miss this!

List of school fair participants:

Allen-Stevenson School

Bank Street

Brearley School

Browning School

Buckley School

Calhoun School

Collegiate School

Convent of the Sacred Heart

Dalton School

Elizabeth Morrow

Harlem Academy

Hewitt School

Hunter College Elementary

Manhattan Country School

Pono

Spence School

St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's

Town School

Updated NYC Elementary School Zone Maps Produced by NYC Parent

NYC School Maps is a new service providing up-to-date and comprehensive NYC elementary school zone maps, created by New York City parent, Kristi Barlow.  Their school zone maps include all public elementary school zones, all unzoned elementary public schools, all elementary charter schools, and all districts--all color coded for easy reading.  The available Manhattan map, 36" high, covers everything south of 126th Street.  They have plans to cover upper Manhattan in the future (you can help make that happen by going to the site and requesting it on the "Future Maps" page).
Digital maps are $8, printed maps $20.  Both come with ongoing digital updates (so you will always have up to date information) and an information packet that includes comprehensive lists of the schools with contact info and links.
The Manhattan map will be on display at our upcoming event, "How to Research and Choose a School For Your Child - A Conversation with Peg Tyre" on Tuesday, May 22nd at Kidberry.
See NY Times story here.
So what do you think?  Will you be purchasing one of these maps?  Please leave your comments below.

How to Research and Choose a School For Your Child – A Conversation With Peg Tyre

In just one week we will be hosting Peg Tyre at Kidberry.  The topic of the night is one that we are all talking about now, “How to Research and Choose a School For Your Child.”

The quality of education in our neighbourhood schools can be shockingly inadequate and recent school reforms are missing the mark.  Our system of school choice in New York can be confusing for even the most informed and organized parents.  How can we tell the difference between a good school and a substandard one?  You need more than just test scores to get the whole story.

Peg Tyre, award winning journalist and author of, “The Good School – How Smart Parents Get Their Kids the Education They Deserve,” will discuss ways for parents to constructively engage teachers and administrators and make critical judgments about their children’s education.  Whether you're enrolling for the first time or you are at a school that may not be the right fit, you can gain from this discussion.

Please join us.

Date:  Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Time:  6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Location:  Kidberry – 2046 7th Avenue (Between 122nd & 123rd Street)

Tickets:  $25/person (Limited financial aid available.  Contact info@letstalkschools.com for details)

Open to the public.  Registration is required at http://howtochoosebestschool.eventbrite.com

5.20.2012  Just added - NYC public school parent Kristi Barlow, of NYC Elementary School Maps, will have her Manhattan map on display and available for purchase at the event.

Possible DOE Immediate School Bus Strike

School Bus

The NYC Schools Chancellor, Dennis Walcott, sent a letter to parents today alerting them to the strong possibility of an immediate system-wide strike by yellow school bus drivers.  Here is the text of the letter:

November 18, 2011
Dear Parent or Guardian,
We are writing to inform you of the strong possibility of an immediate system-wide, and in our view, illegal, strike by our bus drivers' union—local 1181—that could impact yellow bus service for more than 152,000 students citywide.

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) is issuing a bid to secure new yellow bus contracts to transport special education pre-kindergarten and early intervention ( "pre-school") children to their school programs for the 2012-2013 school year. Our current contracts are set to expire at the end of June 2012 and it is imperative that we move forward now to secure a new contract.

The bus drivers' union has told us that if the bid does not include an Employee Protection Provision—a measure which guarantees their workers civil service-type seniority rights in the event that their current employers do not win the new bid—they will go on strike, system-wide. This would result in severe disruptions, or possibly complete discontinuance, of yellow bus service.

In our view, this would be an illegal strike, and it is all the more unconscionable when you consider that New York State's highest Court recently ruled that we may not include an Employee Protection Provision requirement in our bids. Because the union has told us they will strike, we are immediately filing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board and asking that it seek an injunction in federal court as quickly as possible.

We are deeply concerned about the impact of a strike on our students and families and we want you to be prepared in the event one occurs.

Any information we have about disruptions to bus service will be posted our website at http://schools.nyc.gov. We urge parents and guardians whose children rely on yellow bus service—for pre-K or K-12 service—to regularly check the website for updates. The information will also be provided to the media and to 311.

In the event that a strike occurs, the following protocols will take effect for families of students who currently receive yellow bus service.

For all students who currently receive yellow bus service from a designated school bus stop to school, we will be issuing Metrocards. Metrocards are being made available at schools and should be requested through the school's general office. We have already informed the Transit Authority that it may need to accommodate additional riders. We also ask families to consider alternative means of transportation to school in case of a disruption.

Parents of pre-school and school-age children with IEPs requiring transportation from their home directly to their school, as well as parents of children in grades K-2, may request a Metrocard for the parent or guardian to act as the child's escort to school.

For pre-school and school-age children who have an IEP requiring transportation from their home directly to their school, we are offering reimbursement for actual transportation costs. Parents who drive their children to school will be reimbursed at a rate of 51 cents per mile. Parents who use a taxi or car service to transport their child to school will be reimbursed for the trip upon completion of reimbursement forms that include a receipt for provided services. Requests for reimbursements should be made one week at a time on forms that will be provided in schools' general offices. The forms will ask you to indicate on which school days alternative transportation was taken and whether it was taken for both the morning and afternoon commute. Reimbursement forms as well as receipts should be sent to the Transportation Reimbursement Unit at 44-36 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11101.

Field trips using yellow bus service will be cancelled if there is a bus service disruption. After school programs will remain open, but no busing will be provided.

This is a very difficult situation for the school system and we understand that it may be very upsetting to our students and families. Every parent or guardian must evaluate the needs of his or her child in terms of making the best arrangements to transport the child to school. Students who arrive to school late because of disruptions to yellow bus service will be excused for up to 2 hours. Children who are unable to attend school because of disruptions to yellow bus service will be marked absent with an explanation code that will ensure their attendance record is not negatively impacted.

We regret the possibility of what could be a major disturbance in the lives of students and their families. We continue to hope that the bus driver and escort union will not take such unwarranted action in response to what is the proper, legal course of action for the Department of Education to take on behalf of our students and the City taxpayers.

If you have further questions about this matter, please call our Pupil Transportation Hotline at 718-392-8855 or 311.

Sincerely,

Dennis M. Walcott

Chancellor

Applying to Schools? Then Come to Our School Information and Networking Night

'Tis the Season...the school application season...and everyone is talking about schools -- at the playground, on anonymous online message boards, at the supermarket-- but are you talking to the right people and are you getting the right information?

  • How do you know what the right school is?  What do you really need to know about tours, play dates, thank you notes, lottery schools, testing, etc.?
  • Financial aid for private schools – is it real?

We have done the research for you and have put together a group of parent experts from the schools that you want to attend, who are ready to share their experiences.  Let’s Talk Schools is having a social mixer, to provide parents applying to schools an opportunity to connect with other parents in an informal setting to 'talk schools’ with each other.

Come mix and mingle at our School Information Speed Date Night with parents that will give you the real, unedited scoop on schools and answer your questions live, one-on- one.  Our Parent Experts have knowledge of ongoing schools*, experience of successfully completing the application process and they don’t mind talking about schools all night long!

Come join our conversation.

*Schools represented include the following:-

  • Fieldston Lower / Dalton / Trevor Day / Riverdale Country /
  • Bank Street / Columbia Grammar & Prep / St Hilda’s and St Hughe’s / Spence
  • NEST+m / PS 166 G&T / Hunter /PS 180 /Manhattan School for Children / Ascension
  • New York French-American Charter School / Upper Westside Success Academy
  • Weekday Preschool / Claremont (now MontClare) / Twin Parks Schools – Riverside, Central Park and Park West Montessori
* Final list of schools subject to change

Press the reset button

Our groundbreaking education blog has a new look and a new name.  Preschoolpov is now Let's Talk Schools.

Over the last few months we have been reevaluating our mission and goals:

What is our purpose?  We all want our children to get a good education so they can succeed in life.  But, what does a good education mean and how can we find it in our community?  Where are the good schools?  Why aren't all schools good schools?   What is our children learning?  What should they be learning and how should they learn it?

These are questions we started asking ourselves, our friends, our teachers and, more importantly, our children; things we need to know before dropping our kids off at school.

There are so many school to choose from - public, private, charter, parochial; progressive vs. classical teaching methods; standardized testing; how do we sort through everything?

Let's Talk Schools provides an "insider's view" of our local schools using the shared opinions of parents, students and educators who have experienced the schools first hand.  Guided by our ratings and feedback, parents will have the information they need to smart decisions for their child's education.

Additionally, reform of our education system is a tremendous undertaking that's front and center in the national conversation and parent voices are largely missing from the debate.  We aim to be that voice in the national conversation.

We need to educate ourselves about the issues and get involved.   Let's work with the schools in our local community to figure out what they need to provide a decent education for ALL children, not just our own.

So join us and Let's Talk Schools!