The well-oiled volunteer network of parents involved in their local PTAs sprung into action after Sandy to put their fund-raising and outreach expertise to good use, often miles beyond the boundaries of their local schools.
Discord between parents and the principal at the New Explorations Into Science, Technology and Math High School reached a discomfiting peak this week when more than 500 parents and faculty members signed an online petition that criticized the principal, Olga Livanis, as overly punitive in this year’s rating of several well-liked teachers, failing to share important budgetary information with parents, and setting the wrong tone at the school, which is on the Lower East Side.
UPDATED | In a ruling announced on Thursday, Judge Ellen M. Spodek of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn wrote that the city's decision this year to revoke Williamsburg Charter High School's charter, despite having renewed it in 2009, was "arbitrary and capricious" and "not corroborated by any policy, regulation or protocol established by the D.O.E."
Many public schools incorporate food — its production, nutritional value and place in the larger culture — into their curriculums, And at certain private schools lunchtime can include braised meats and Korean meatloaf. But at P.S. 150, a school of fewer than 200 students in TriBeCa, an appreciation for food is an integral part of student life, interwoven into the culture of the school and shared by the families who send their children there, many of whom have sophisticated palettes themselves.
According to Department of Education officials, attendance on Wednesday was at 79.4 percent, a mere .2 percentage points lower than the rate for the last day of school in 2011 -- despite the fact that many schools had canceled classes on Monday and Tuesday because the city had clocked none of its allotted snow days this year.
For students, being part of a new school meant designing the student council, instituting annual traditions during the school year, deciding on school colors, school cheers and events. It also meant major preparations for the first graduation, with the added responsibility of setting the tone for younger classmates by coming up with specific ideas that could set their school's event apart from others. And of course there were a few pitfalls -- like, in the case of Pan American International High School, discovering that if you order the yearbook in May, it won't be there on time for graduation day.
Despite the long-held ideal that public education should be free, parents in New York City are finding themselves paying for an increasing number of things, like class trips and basic supplies.
In an interview in April to mark his first anniversary as chancellor, Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said the Fund for Public Schools can be an equalizer when it comes to disparities in parent fund-raising. Meanwhile, he said, one thing he is not going to do is discourage parents from raising money for their children's schools.
There is no centralized accounting of how many New Yorkers owe their livelihood to public school PTAs. But parent association Web sites -- which often include lists of the activities parent dollars are now responsible for -- suggest that if you are an actress with an appetite for history, an entrepreneurial bongo drummer, a yoga instructor O.K. with teaching downward dog to 6-year-olds, even a skateboard champion looking to earn some extra cash, currying favor with the city’s better-off PTAs is just good business.
In all the sound and fury over Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott's demand for more power to fire teachers for sexual misconduct, there is little likelihood that Albany will be addressing the matter any time soon -- or that the matter will be resolved without legislative intervention, given the heated tension between the city and the union, according to people familiar with the issue.
As the city prepares to shut down 24 failing schools and reopen them in the fall as newly imagined institutions, close to 3,000 New York City public school teachers received letters Monday informing them that their jobs would soon be terminated and they would be put in a special pool of teachers without full-time posts.
As coffers swell -- or as schools in low-income communities try to figure out how to stretch their budgets -- PTA officers and other parents are prioritizing the use of parents' money, and it's not as easy as it might seem. “Sometimes, it’s hard to judge what’s the right thing to do,” said Sue Dietrich, the PTA treasurer for Staten Island Technical High School, one of the city’s nine selective high schools, which raises about $60,000 annually. “It’s hard to know what’s really necessary.”
Parents shut out of their prekindergarten of choice will have a second chance to apply, starting Monday, when 2,000 or so available seats will become open for bids. The schools that still have open seats can be found online in a list published by the city. Parents are urged to apply at the schools of their choice.
UPDATED | Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said Friday that the arrest of a third-grade teacher at a Harlem public school, the latest in a slate of school arrests involving sexual abuse charges, is yet another reason to push forward with state legislation that would grant chancellors the power to fire offenders. His comments set off a battle with the United Federation of Teachers, which said the city should do a better job screening the people it hires -- a criticism that Mr. Walcott said on Sunday was a "disingenuous shell game" meant to draw attention away from the real problem of too-lenient arbitrators.
City officials said its new citywide special education plan, which is supposed to take effect in the fall, is moving forward. Staff training is ongoing. Better communication is on the way. And, says Corinne Rello-Anselmi, the city’s incoming deputy chancellor for special education, there will be no delays: "This reform will no longer be a reform. It will be the way we do school.”
Eva Moskowitz has written a book based on her experiences with the Success Academy Charter schools that is part polemic on school choice, part how-to guide and part personal memoir. It includes the tenets of what Ms. Moskowitz terms "joyful rigor."
Parents at P.S. 89 in Manhattan pay for laptops, a dance program, a chess club, upgrades to the gym and the library, music and art programs, and a playground assistant. They give teachers $400 each to purchase school supplies, and $200 more later in the year if needed. At P.S. 305 in Brooklyn, parents are hoping to use the $5,000 they have raised this year to send fifth graders on “a nice, end-of-year trip,” rent out a prom hall and purchase sashes for their graduation ceremony. Teachers not only don't get money for school supplies, they often chip in to help families and children. Another report on the impact of parent fund-raising and spending in the public schools.
A citywide special education plan that aims to put New York City more in step with other school districts around the country by including those students in general education classrooms is causing commotion here, with a growing chorus of parents, teachers and elected officials insisting it is being too hastily implemented with too little information.
When a small gifted and talented program was started at Public School 32 in Brooklyn last year, there were few takers. This year, as its reputation spread, there were more applicants to the program than there were seats, and anxiety reigned until the Department of Education decided, at the last minute, to expand the program. A bird's-eye view of how gifted programs are formed.
Supporters of charter schools rallied at City Hall Wednesday with a message for those who want to succeed Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has been a supporter of charter schools. “Mayoral candidates, we are here and we vote,” Kathleen Kernizan, the mother of two students in the Uncommon Schools chain, boomed. “Do not ignore us.”