Friday, May 7, 2010

Good Luck Class of 2011 and Beyond!

As administrator of this blog and on behalf of parents of the class of 2010, I wish families the best of luck in this interesting, exciting, challenging, and sometimes frustrating process of NYC high school search and application. I hope that the information posted here—provided over the past year by an extended "village" of middle school families—will continue to be a source of inspiration and information that is helpful to all.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

McCourt Update and Open House

Excerpted from a FMHS update e-mailed April 13:

After the first round of matches to the school, we have 1/3 of the class of 2014 matched to us, a nice percentage considering we had to interview all applicants and spread the word about the school at the same time! Many thanks to all of you for your help with this!

Because we expect to meet most of the rest of our target in the supplemental round, we are holding another Open House event this coming Monday, April 19. We are also still holding some student interviews, so please encourage interested families to be in touch with us here to schedule one.

Contact Danielle Salzberg at for a flyer and more information.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Feb. 11 Frank McCourt Open House and Update

Brandeis Campus Open House including Frank McCourt, Global Learning Collaborative and Green Careers on Thursday, February 11, from 6-7 pm.

The following update was provided by Danielle Salzberg, Project Director

With just one week of recruiting under our belts, there has already been overwhelming interest in the school!

We had more than 100 people at our Open House on February 2

We completed 10 interviews with incredible student candidates

We met several hundred interested families at the DOE sponsored New School fair February 6-7

We already scheduled school visits to interested middle schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn

We have a tentative space in Harlem for an Open House on February 16 (details to follow)

We have tentative space in Harlem for interviews on March 2 and March 4 (details to follow)

We continue to look for students with an interest in communications including creative writing, performance, presentation, journalism, etc. and community service.

Student applicants will be ranked based on 5 criteria. They earn points for each category and students with the most points are ranked first. Criteria include: 7th grade ELA and math exam scores; 7th grade GPA; 7th grade attendance record; Writing task (completed at the interview); Group project (completed at interview). Families and students at every level have been encouraged to apply as the 2 interview tasks can earn students more points than all other criteria combined. We also encourage students with IEP’s and designated as ELL to apply, as we intend to provide any necessary services.

Our school program will include curriculum rich in problem solving and designed with the writing process (drafting, feedback, revision, editing, publication) at its core.

Students in grades 9-10 will take a core set of courses designed around authentic problems they will investigate and learn to communicate solutions about. Many problems will be interdisciplinary so students learn how the skills they need for success after high school are connected.

The writing program includes a core course for all 9th and 10th graders that focuses on the writing process and prepares students to participate in a community of writers- giving and receiving feedback, communicating to varied audiences, exploring genres, etc. 11th and 12th graders will have an opportunity to specialize in either creative communications (more focused genre writing, theater, etc.) or professional communications (journalism, research presentation, grant preparation, etc.). These strands can be pursued through school courses and/or the mandatory action research internship that all students will complete prior to graduation.

All our students will take Regents exams and have the opportunity to explore a rich math and science program. The 9-10 core curriculum includes Regents math and science standards and students in 11th and 12th grade will have a chance for advanced study of particular science and math courses.

We are building relationships with colleges and universities to be able to offer students opportunities to take courses for college credit through College Now and other programs.

Community service is a way to teach communications and provides real experiences that allow students to explore post-secondary interests while still in school. Service projects will take place in Advisory as well as through a mentored independent study we are calling “Action Research Internship”.

Want to Help? If you can help, please email

We are still looking for space to convene additional Open Houses in February and March. We are looking for space to host interviews on March 11, 16, 18, 23, 25.

We are looking for help circulating flyers for upcoming events.

We are looking for volunteers to help greet attendees at Open Houses and interview sessions.

Thank you for all your support to-date! We look forward to celebrating future Frank McCourt High School successes with you!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Acceptance Miracle from 2008

Ben's dad ran into an old Little League dad buddy (credible source) who said his son (currently a HS sophomore) was accepted to Stuyvesant and—get this!—Lab, which he had listed #6 on his application. Go figure. (The student chose Stuy.)

Answers About New High Schools Part 3

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Blackboard Awards 2009

Congratulations to:
Outstanding Public High School Eleanor Roosevelt
Rising Star Public High School Manhattan Hunter Science

West Side Spirit Covers the High School Hustle

On the Monday after Thanksgiving, parents and 8th graders in public middle schools around the city put the final touches on their high school applications. With admissions rounds in both fall and winter, a separate specialized high school exam and sometimes-confusing forms to fill out, the application process generally causes stress for all. But adding to the stress for many parents on the West Side is the frustrating fact that no selective District 3 schools give local students admissions preference. Read more at

US News and World Report HS Rankings 2009

Most of our NYC specialized schools make the top 100.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

HS Admissions from a High School Perspective

Must read. Impressive post by iSchool co-principal Mary Moss.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

DOE Response to Concern About D2 Preferences

Thank you for your email to which I have been asked to respond on the Chancellor’s behalf. It is clear from your letter that you are familiar with our choice process and have some concerns about your child’s chances of getting into the schools in which you have interest.

As you correctly pointed out, there are a number of schools that give priority to District 2. In fact, nine high schools give priority to District 2 and four give priority to District 3. You also mentioned some selective screened schools that give priority to District 2, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Millennium, School of the Future, and others. It is true that these are some of the more selective and highly sought-after high schools. Screened schools, as you know, select candidates to rank based on the degree to which those students meet their selection criteria, and only ranked candidates can match to those programs. While District 2 students are given priority at the schools mentioned above, that does not necessarily mean other students will not be ranked and matched to one of those schools. In fact, among the screened schools that give priority to District 2, 30% of their 9th grade matches for 2009-2010 were represented by students outside of District 2.

At the same time, there are a number of highly selective high schools, screened and otherwise, that do not prioritize students from any district — Beacon, Bard, Columbia Secondary, High School for Environmental Studies, ICE, NEST+m, and NYCiSchool, just to name a few — in addition to the Specialized High Schools like Stuyvesant and High School for Math, Science and Engineering at the City College. The approximate number of seats allocated at screened programs that give priority to District 2 is only 5% of the total number of seats in Manhattan alone.

While screened programs and the high schools you mentioned may represent an excellent fit for some students, there are many choices that we encourage you and your family to explore. There are many schools throughout the city that have very strong instructional programs with a rich array of AP and college course offerings. Whatever your final school preferences may be, the choice process provides you with a “safe” way of making choices: You should list your choices of high schools on the high school application in your true order of preference. That is, high schools will not see how you ranked them, and you will not reduce your chances of matching to any given school based on your preferences.

I encourage your child — as well as all 8th graders — to research and consider choosing the schools that will give them the best possible chance to succeed. Your child’s guidance counselor is an excellent resource and he or she can help you identify such schools. Once you consider the wide variety of schools throughout the city and list them on the application in your order of preference, you can make the most of the high school choice process.

If you would like to discuss your options further or review your child’s application, I would be happy to speak with you. Please do not hesitate to contact me at


Leonard Trerotola
Executive Director for High School Enrollment

Monday, November 23, 2009

Public Hearing for McCourt High School

Frank McCourt High School Educational Impact Statement

I. Date, time and place of public hearing for this proposal. December 8, 2009 at 6:00pm
145 W 84th Street, Manhattan
There will be no question and answer period. Speaker sign-up will begin 30 minutes before the hearing and will close 15 minutes after the start.

II. Description of the subject and purpose of the proposed item under consideration Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, Frank McCourt, a new school that will serve grades 9-12 when fully phased-in, will be located in school building M470 (hereinafter referred to as "M470"). M470 is located in Community School District 3 ("District 3") at 145 W 84th Street, Manhattan. The building currently houses four schools: Louis D.
Brandeis High School (03M470, "Brandeis"), The Global Learning Collaborative (03M403, "GLC"), Innovation Diploma Plus (03M404, "IDP"), and The Urban Assembly School For Green Careers (03M402, "Green Careers"). 
Brandeis is in its first year of phasing-out and will continue a gradual phase-out until the 2011-2012 school year when it will officially close.
The other three schools currently in M470 are all in their first year of operation. GLC and Green Careers currently serve grade 9 and will add one grade per year until they reach grades 9-12 configuration. IDP is a transfer school serving grades 9-12; it will continue to serve grades 9-12. 
M470 has a capacity of 2374 and its current utilization rate is 95%.
M470 has sufficient space for Brandeis, GLC, IDP, Green Careers, and Frank McCourt to operate at full organizational capacity. 
In its first year of operation, Frank McCourt will serve grade 9. The school will then add one additional grade each year until 2013-2014 when the addition of grade 12 completes the grade span of the school. This proposal addresses the need to provide access to a high quality, new selective high school, and to increase the number of available high school seats in Manhattan.

III. Information regarding where the full text of the proposed item may be obtained The Educational Impact Statement can be found on the Department of Education website: 

IV. Submission of public comment
Written comments can be sent to 
Oral comments can be left at 718-935-4414. 

V. Date, time and place of the PEP meeting at which the Board will vote on the proposed item. 
December 17, 2009
New World High School
921 East 228th Street, Bronx 

VI. The name, office, address, email and telephone number of the city district representative, knowledgeable on the item under consideration, from whom information may be obtained concerning the item
Name: Kim Wong
Office: Office of Portfolio Planning
Address: 52 Chambers St
52 Chambers Street Room 320 New York, NY 10007 Telephone: 212-374-0209
Fax: 212-374-5588
Phone: 212-374-5049

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Letter Accompanying McCourt Draft Mission Statement

Dear Friends,

In the following post you will find a Proposed Vision Statement for the Frank McCourt High School.

Given that the Frank McCourt High School is being proposed as one of the schools to be housed in the Brandeis Campus, and given that the community must be part of the process to ensure that all voices are heard, a group of university and K-12 educators, parents and education activists, named and identified below, came together to craft an inclusive statement that represents both the spirit and legacy of Frank McCourt. After substantial consultation with varied constituencies, we are now prepared to present this Vision Statement in a number of public venues

We appreciate the input you have provided to us and look forward to an open process for the continuing development of Frank McCourt High School.


Bernadette Anand Instructor Graduate School of Education Bank Street College

Teresa Arboleda, Education Activist, former member District 3 CEC and School Board

Liz Brock, Education Activist, former District 3 School Board Member

Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Urban Education, Chair of the subprogram of Social/Personality Psychology The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Donna Nevel, community psychologist and educator and Perla Placencia, MSW, Center for Immigrant Families

Elizabeth Shell, former Chair, present Treasurer of CEC District 3

Lizabeth Sostre, retired English teacher and District 3 Middle School Choice Coordinator

Draft McCourt Mission Statement

The Frank McCourt High School

Francis "Frank" McCourt (19 August 1930 – 19 July 2009) was a teacher and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, best known for Angela’s Ashes. He taught English at McKee Career and Technical High School in Staten Island, Stuyvesant High School in New York City and in the English department of the New York City Technical College of the City University of New York. Frank McCourt strongly believed that all students could learn to write and think creatively.

Mission Statement

The Frank McCourt High School invites applications from a broad range of students with a desire to write – journalism, poetry, creative fiction, non-fiction, drama, science writing, biography, business documents, and/or graphic novels. All courses across the curriculum will be writing intensive and will encourage youth to engage with various modes of written communication. The rich curriculum will include substantial writing in world languages (Spanish and/or French) as well as an exploration of the arts and literature of Spanish and French speaking countries. There will be writers in residence at the school and opportunities for students to be engaged in a variety of writing projects, both in English and in other languages. Community-based organizations, such as Symphony Space, will be partners in furthering the curriculum.


The Frank McCourt High School is committed to total inclusion and to diversity by race/ethnicity, social class, language background, and learning styles. The school is committed to both excellence and equity – which go hand in hand, creating a community of students, educators, and families who reflect the rich diversity of NYC and are eager to join and help create a vibrant, creative school environment. The Frank McCourt High School will offer a range of opportunities in English writing and literature for English Language Learners, as well as for students who have advanced knowledge of Spanish and/or French.

The admissions process will be designed to cultivate a broad range of applicants with a passion for writing. The Frank McCourt High School will be a screened program, which means that students will be assessed based on: an interview, on-site writing sample, middle school transcripts, and test scores. The on-site writing activity will be judged using a culturally sensitive rubric. No single criterion will automatically exclude any student.

The admissions committee will include a wide range of diverse members of the school community, including administrators, teachers, students, and others committed to the mission and vision of the school. The school’s advisory board members may also be part of the admissions committee.

Student Recruitment

There will be outreach to middle schools, after-school programs, houses of worship, and community organizations in order to inform the widest possible group of students about the school and how to apply.

Advisory Board

An advisory board will be established that reflects the diversity of the school community and includes representatives of various media and cultural traditions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Letter from District 3 Families to Chancellor Klein

Following is a letter written by CS parents Nancy Brandwein and David Felton on behalf of District 3 families. This letter states our position as follows:

District 2 has six screened schools that offer preference for their students. District 3 has none. All screened schools should take students from across the city and not be limited by geography.

If you agree with this, please copy and paste the letter content into a word document, print, and mail and/or paste into the links provided on this blog. Scroll down and look to the right to see contact information for Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein, and our Upper West Side and Manhattan elected officials.


Joel Klein
Department of Education
New York City
Tweed Courthouse
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Dear Chancellor Klein:

In the New York City high school application process we face a gross inequity as we negotiate the stressful, complicated process of trying to get our kids into screened high schools. There are at least six screened schools in District 2 that offer preference to either District 2 students or students in their geographic area. These high schools are: Eleanor Roosevelt, Millennium, School of the Future, Baruch College Campus High School, NYC Lab School, and NYC Museum School.

It happens that these schools are consistently among the top-rated screened public high schools in New York City, and technically any 8th grade student in the city can apply to them. But because these schools are mandated, sometimes against the school's own wishes, to give preference to District 2 students, it's much harder for students outside the district to get in. Yet very few high schools in other districts offer a similar district preference, so understandably many parents feel that students in District 2 (which happens to be one of the wealthiest districts in Manhattan) enjoy an unfair advantage over students in the rest of the city.

We are in District 3, and there are currently no screened schools that offer preference to District 3 students. These students, applying for high school from such District 3 public middle schools as Mott Hall II, Delta, Computer School, Columbia Secondary School, and The Center School, find that the playing field is not level. Many of these students are interested in rigorous high schools with high graduation rates and offerings of AP classes, such as the six mentioned schools in District 2, and Beacon High School in District 3. But the District 2 schools essentially exclude them, and Beacon is open to students citywide, which would be fair enough if that policy were followed by all high schools in the city.

As parents of these District 3 children, who like all parents in the city pay taxes for all the schools in the city, we feel that the quality of our children's high school education, and potentially college education, is skewed by where they live -- and that the DOE condones this inequity. In fact, according to at least one District 2 high school principal, this unfair and discriminating practice has been enforced most rigorously in the last four years, at the behest of the Chancellor of the DOE.

Please get back to me with your thoughts on how the DOE will level the playing field so that our students, and all New York City students, can have the same opportunities that District 2 students enjoy.


Friday, November 13, 2009

New Schools Application Clarification

Here is the response I received after contacting the chancellor via the link on the DOE website.

Dear Ms. Mears,

Thank you for your e-mail to Chancellor Klein. I am responding on the Chancellor’s behalf.

Please be advised that all students, including those who receive specialized round results in February, will have the opportunity to re-submit an application during the new schools choice process. Be sure to contact your son’s guidance counselor in early February, perhaps when you get the specialized test results, to request a New Schools Choice Form.


Helen Tsang
Chancellor’s Strategic Response Group