So this week I dipped my feet for the first time into the black, swirling waters of the New York City Public School System. We’d like to register Brady for Universal Pre-K. Although his zoned school doesn’t have one and it’s unlikely he’ll get it, we want to keep the option open.

So, I checked the New York City Dept of Education website this week because I know a lot of the processes begin after Labor Day. On the pre-k site they say, “Families must pre-register at schools Sept 8 – Sept 17.” No additional information. The registration page is only for K-8. Calls to 311 yielded a lengthy drone of recordings, none of which addressed pre-k. Calls to the Manhattan director of early childhood education went unanswered.

So, I thought, if I speak to someone in person that will help. I walked to one of the “registration centers” where I was told, “we’re told that the individual schools handle pre-k.” But the schools website says that all pre-k admissions are handled by the DOE.

Could this possibly be any more confusing??? I’ve heard for years about the impossibility of the NYC school system. This is my first little taste. The only real information I got was from a colleague who has two kids in the system. She set me straight and made me feel much better! Apparently there’s nothing to do until the spring.

Next year at this time we’ll be navigating kindergarten for the Fall of 2012. Insanity! One thing that really worries me is the NYC mandatory age cutoff of December 31. Since Brady is a November baby he’ll be one of the youngest in his class. There is no option to wait a year. Ugh.

I’m hoping the kindergarten process goes smoothly. The fact that I have to do anything other than fill out some forms sort of baffles me. I went to a Catholic elementary school, but I always thought that public school worked like this – there is a school in your neighborhood, you sign up, you go. Not so in NYC. You sign up for your school and hope you get a spot and if you don’t, there’s a lottery to see who does. Last year, something like 80 kids in our  neighborhood didn’t get into the kindergarten at our zoned school. They have now created another kindergarten to handle all the kids. I’m keeping my fingers crossed we don’t have to contend with that.

Then there’s the whole gifted & talented testing process. I’m not even going to start on that. Whew, I think I need a drink just thinking about it.

At least I have some time before I hand him over to the system.


One response

  1. Just shared this with Zack. Wow–we were confounded enough by the thought of navigating this process here in NC next year. Can’t imagine doing so in New York, agh!! Good luck!

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