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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Newsletter #1, Sept. 2, 2008

To sign up for the newsletter:
This newsletter is meant to be a tool to supplement your school search. All dates, deadlines, times and places need to be confirmed with the sponsoring organization or school. From time to time, human error does occur despite my best efforts. If you are interested in a particular school, contact them. You don’t need to wait for me to announce them. Happy Hunting.

NYC School Help
Register for the Public High School Search Workshop.
$120 for Adults 3-sessions. $60 for Students 3-sessions.
The Park Slope Workshop will be held at Sweet Melissa’s on 7th Ave. between 1st/2nd St.
Can’t make it on my dates? Gather some friends who want to join you- call me and we will set up your own private workshop.

Private or Group Consultations to help with the school search Nursery through High School, Private and Public
Call Joyce Szuflita 718-781-1928

Public School Calendar for Sept:
2-Tues.: school begins; early dismissal for non-district 75 kindergarten only
3-Wed.: early dismissal for non-district 75 kindergarten only
30 and Oct. 1-Tues./Wed.: Rosh Hashanah, no school

Parents - Elementary to HS Students:
Citywide Education Hotline: 212-669-7250 (sponsored by Public Advocate, Betsy Gotbaum)
Education Expo: Info about after school programs, arts enrichment, charter schools, tutoring and other programs.
FREE, Sat. Sept. 27, noon-4pm; NYU Kimmel Center, Rosenthal Pavilion 60 Washington Sq. South, 10th Floor; or
The 11th Annual Citywide Parent Conference: Strengthening the Home-School Partnership
FREE, Sat. Nov. 8, 2008; 8am -2:30pm; Hilton New York
For more info: 212-598-9205 or

I have heard about a free website (although I haven’t tried it yet) to coordinate volunteers for field trips, book fair etc.

New School Alert:
Green Hill School (Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill) is an independent school accepting applications for kindergarten in the 2008 school year
The Brooklyn Brownstone School (Bed-Stuy) opens in District 16 this fall with 80 kindergarten and first grade students. It is a public school open to all NYC residents. They are looking for low bookshelves, gently used early childhood books and volunteers to help decorate the school for the fall. Contact them 718-573-2307,

Nursery School Information:
Beansprouts tour schedule is online
Berkeley Carroll is taking reservations for morning open houses
718-789-6060 ext. 6608 for Pre-K
718-789-6060 ext. 6527 for middle school
718-789-6060 ext. 6527 for upper school
Call for reservations.
Brooklyn Free Space may have a spot for a Fall 2008 spot for a girl or boy aged 4-4.8 as of Sept. 2008. Contact
Brooklyn Friends is taking reservations for a few morning tour dates in the fall
Pre-K: 718-852-1029 ext. 213
Lower, Middle, and Upper School: 718-852-1029 ext. 232
RSVP necessary, check dates online
Brooklyn Heights Montessori morning tour dates for parents only, are posted
RSVP is required 718-858-5100 ext. 120
International School of Brooklyn evening and Sat. parents only tours are posted
RSVP necessary 718-369-3023 Linden Tree Preschool has spaces available for fall 2008 for the Threes: 2-days/half day,
And Fours: 5day/pm; call 718-624-0083
Packer Collegiate Institute open house dates are posted, check the schedule online
RSVP to Yvonne Menard 718-250-0254
Poly Prep open house dates are available, check dates online
RSVP 718-663-6003

Elementary School:
To find out what school District, and within that, what elementary school you are zoned for:
Call 311 and give them your address.

Tours: Many Elementary Schools hold them throughout the year, starting in the fall. Call your school’s Parent Coordinator for more information. You can find their number on the school’s page on

Public High School Information:
Okay 8th graders, it is time to get out your DOE High School Guide and start figuring out which schools you want to tour.

For those of you interested in the Specialized High School Test (SHSAT) and want to brush up on your test taking ability. Consider Princeton Review's Intensive Fall Prep Course, or tutoring.
718 375-5591 or

You might also want to contact a private tutor. There are many in the neighborhood. One to consider is Sarah Marcus

Citywide High School Fair: 9/20 and 9/21 from 10am-3pm
at Brooklyn Tech HS, 29 Fort Greene Place
You will make the most out of this event if you have visited and know which schools you really want to talk to. This is a great opportunity to talk to principals, administrators and students from the schools. There should also be a Borough-wide HS Fair. The schools traditionally post their tours after the first HS Fair, but if you are interested in a popular school, I recommend that you monitor their website.

Thanks for reading! If you have an event to add or school info for parents (or you see an error, please be kind) and write to me at

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Public School Help Hotline

This press release was sent from the Public Advocate's Office with a phone number for help with public school issues.
For help call 212-669-7250.

"MANHATTAN – Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum today released a survey which found that Family Advocates at Community School Districts offices (CSDs) are unresponsive to calls for help. Investigators at the Office of the Public Advocate made 96 calls to District Family Advocates two weeks prior to the start of school, and found that almost 70% of the time they could not connect with staff.

Public Advocate Gotbaum also announced the annual launch of her citywide education hotline - 212.669.7250 - to help public school parents receive the answers and support they need with school-related problems. The hotline will address issues such as registration, transportation, academic enrichment, after-school programs, school safety transfers, and the needs of English language learners and special education students.

Public Advocate Gotbaum said, "The start of the school year is exciting, but it can be a stressful time for parents and students. The bad news here is DOE has not figured out an effective and consistent way for the CSD’s to interact with parents and help answer their questions. The good news is that I am once again launching my education hotline to fill the void and provide parents with a helpful resource and assistance in resolving education-related problems:”

The Office of the Public Advocate made phone calls to all 32 CSD offices between August 12 and 15th, 2008, asking pre-determined questions. The Family Advocate at each district office was called three times; once during daytime hours, once during daytime hours in Spanish, and once between 5:00 and 6:00 for a total of 96 calls. If a message was left, the family advocate was given 5 business days (one week) to respond. If the calls were not returned within five days, the districts were marked as unresponsive.


Of 96 calls, 64 were placed during business hours and 32 were placed during weekdays between 5-6 pm.

  • Of the 64 calls made during the business hours, only 21 were answered.
  • Of the 32 calls made during evening hours, 3 were answered.

Of 96 calls, if a live person did not answer, investigators were able to leave voicemail messages for 49

  • Of the 49 messages left, only 6 were returned.

About 24% of the time, however, investigators were unable to leave messages because of non-existent, non-working or full voicemail boxes.

Investigators made one call to each of the 32 districts posing as a Spanish speaking parent with a question about the child’s education. The calls were made during business hours.

Of the 32 Spanish calls:

  • Twelve were answered by a live person

o Of the 12 Spanish phone calls answered by a live person, only 7 were actually able to help the caller in Spanish.

  • Fourteen messages were left

o Of the 14 Spanish language messages left for the family advocates, not one was returned.

  • Six were non-existent, non-working, or full voicemail boxes.
  • No contact was ever made with 12 of the 32 Districts in New York City, meaning, 37.5% of the districts never answered or called back for any of the three different calls.

Public Advocate Gotbaum added, “I’m especially concerned about the lack of support for Spanish speakers, as not one voicemail message left in Spanish got a call back. The DOE must do more to ensure equal access to information and support for non-English speakers.”

The position of the District Family Advocate was started last year when two District Family Advocates were hired for every district. Contact information is available for the District Family Advocates on the DOE’s website at"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Specialized HS Testing

8th Grade Parents - are you feeling that nagging sense of impending doom?
Ready to run the gauntlet of high school choice? What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I am holding High School Search Workshops in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens this fall. They are three fall evenings each to help guide you through the process. Or you can put together your own group of friends and set your own days and I would be happy to meet with you. If you are interested in reserving a spot e-mail me at

Whether you really want to send your child to a Specialized HS or not, the test is free. If your child gets a placement to any of the 8 schools including La Guardia she will hear about it a month before the other 85,000 students in the city, and not only that, but she will also hear which of her "1-12" schools have offered her a seat. It is worth the hassle and cost of some test prep and the test, to possibly hear early and have two or three (if she is offered a seat to La Guardia) options. Believe me, when you actually have a Stuyvesant acceptance letter in hand you think twice about all the times you said, "it is not for us".

I have heard many parents feel that the fall only prep is effective. And the best preparation, aside from really understanding the specific test taking strategies of this odd-ball exam is taking practice tests. There are many good private tutors in the neighborhood and Kaplan is everywhere. I just thought I'd let you know about some SHSAT (Specialized High School Aptitude Test) classes through Princeton Review (800-2Review) that I just heard of. They are holding the fall sessions on weekend mornings at Berkeley Carroll from Aug. 8 through Oct. 19, and in at their Brooklyn Center in Midwood on weekend afternoons. They also do small group tutoring. (which was a route that we took and found very effective)

I am mentioning Princeton Review in particular because I recently attended a free college information class they held that was extremely helpful and turned our whole college search strategy around for the better. I like their approach very much. Check them out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Guest Blogging on Hip Slope Mama

I am enjoying the weekend updates on the blogazine Hip Slope Mama, and it isn't just because I am a guest blogger there. Check out my latest post, "Can You Predict What Type of Learner Your Toddler Will Be?"