New School Year, New SchoolBook

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SchoolBook is taking the opportunity of Week Three of the 2013-14 school year, after the initial flurry of early September and on the heels of iOS 7 and the latest iPhone, to introduce our own splashy tech upgrade: SchoolBook 3.0. Take it for a spin. 

As the largest school district in the country, with dozens of new schools opening and closing every year, New York has an array of options. It's overwhelming for longtime New Yorkers let alone newcomers. That's why SchoolBook spent the summer improving the site, to make the vaunted school choice in New York City more accessible to everyone.

What good is choice if you don't know how to find all the schools you child might attend? That's where SchoolBook comes in. The city opened over 70 new schools this year. We have them in our redesigned site, and plan to build out their profiles as the year progresses. 

Use our Search + Compare tool to find schools by geography or grade level. Interested only in, let's say, charter schools in Brooklyn? You can list them in one place. Then dig a little deeper into the incredible amount of information SchoolBook collects on every school, using data from the Department of Education but presented in a way that is easy to read and easy to compare. We have the latest state test scores. The progress reports and surveys that parents, teachers and students fill out every year. We also link to Inside Schools which has its own descriptions of the schools they've visited.

And here's where you come in: word of mouth about the schools carries a lot of weight. Scores and surveys are useful but we want to hear from you. Share your views on the schools. You can comment on stories from reporters Beth Fertig and Yasmeen Khan, and other contributors. You can submit opinion pieces and first-hand essays related to the schools to the editor of the site, Patricia Willens (that's me.) Send any submissions, questions, story ideas and tips to

And when it's application season -- and it's starting soon -- SchoolBook can help. A new way to apply to kindergarten. Gifted and Talented programs. Charter schools. Dual language programs. Specialized high schools versus other screened schools, The neighborhood school that is now home to six smaller schools. We will try our best to make sense of a process that can mean so much to a student's future. We've already started, with a Q&A on the new online application for kindergarten. Take a look.   

We are trying to reach farther and wider into the schools and school communities. Partnering with the Daily News at the start of school we received photos from all over the city, capturing what "Back to School" meant to you. Check it out here. We'll be doing more projects with the Daily News this year as well as partnering with the Radio Rookies, WNYC's own youth media program for teenagers. 

At the root of all our efforts is high-quality journalism. Compelling stories from inside the schools. Investigative pieces that shine a light on lesser known issues. The latest on the policy debates and politics that influence decisions made in the schools. We are on it. 

In other words, it is going to be a great year for SchoolBook readers and listeners. Please join the conversation. Listen to our stories. Share your thoughts.