View Full Version : All NYC Tilting at Kindergarten - A Dad's Experience with NYC's Public Kindergarten Application Process

03-03-2011, 11:45 AM
This from DadWagon (http://www.dadwagon.com/2011/03/01/tilting-at-kindergarten/) by Nathan:
Itís 5 am and Iím up early to try to do some work before the kids get up because after we all leave the house, I will have to invest another morning in the quixotic search for a kindergarten (if Iím Quixote, who is my Sancho Panza? My iPhone? I am alone).

My itinerary this morning includes one school tour (PS75) and five other schools where I will drop off a copy of my ConEd utility bill and some other correspondence and fill out the same form as at all the other schools. If thereís a bilingual program, that merits its own separate applicationówith child language evaluationsóat each school. This is the delightful federalism of applying to public kindergarten in New York: the Gifted and Talented program is run centrally, but general ed admissions are the specific fiefdom of each individual school. Each school seems to celebrate their autonomy by making their rules just a little bit different from everyone elseís. Whether itís the hours they allow you to come by and fill out an application, or the way they run school tours, they like to mix it up just enough so that all the Ingenious Gentlemen of La Manchas out there are left feeling confused and vulnerable.

My particular favorite, at this time, among the autonomous schools, is PS333, otherwise known at the Manhattan School for Children, a gentle community of learning with a brutal application process. It is not their fault that their progressive curriculum, their scorn for Gifted and Talented, and their consensual community-building style fit well enough with the Upper West zeitgeist that they are oversubscribed. They are forced to hold an admissions lottery every year, and we are left to apply, like green card applicants hoping to migrate to some wonderful country of organic maths.

Except that we canít apply. In a quirk of the PS333 application process, the school quietly closes the door months before any other schools even start giving tours. The premise is that you canít apply if you havenít taken one of their 9am tours to see whether the school is right for you (a fine idea, though I do wonder how working families ever manage this). And, for some reason, those tours are not offered after December (do they not have heating in the building?). Since we knew that our locally zoned school (PS333 is for anyone living in District 3; itís not the closest school) didnít start giving tours until January, we assumed the new year would be a fine time to begin looking into schools. In the case of PS333, though, we were absolutely and irrevocably late.

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