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high school fair report

It was business as usual at Brooklyn Tech today; crowded, noisy and hot hot hot! It was also awesome. Thanks SO much to the wonderful educators, students, school security officers and DoE Enrollment officials (and my husband who is a school search widower)! I know a lot of you are now freaked out and just plain tired, but I feel very optimistic and energized!

Here are some take-aways:

  • Way too many schools told me that students need to rank them #1 to be placed there. This is a self serving half truth. If you put them first you may very well get placed - BUT you may also be placed there if you put them anywhere else on your list. Of course all schools want to get as many students as they can to rank them first. If you don't like the school best, don't rank them first, you may still get a placement there or at the school that you REALLY love first.
  • RANK SCHOOLS IN THE ORDER YOU LIKE THEM. Ranking them in any other way is IDIOTIC! Trying to game this system only disadvantages you for a school that you may love. Don't be tempted or frightened to list them in any other order.
  • Screened schools: most of them told me that they take the four core subjects cumulative grades at the end of 7th grade and average them, so don't worry about that "one class" that isn't an 85 or 90. Your average should be within their grade threshold for priority. 
  • Private school families: whether you have the IB grades or ISEEs or narrative report cards, the schools are extremely well versed in looking at what your different transcripts tell them. Stop freaking out that you will be disadvantaged because you are not coming with the state test scores, etc.
  • Tours and open houses: go to the schools' web sites for more into. Many of the schools require an RSVP. Many of them are on evenings and weekends. That is good news for working families (and that means all of us). You won't see the students in action, but it is better than losing your job. It looks like the DoE's HS calendar is listing school tours and open houses (you need to click on each day to see them, and I don't know how comprehensive it is).
  • Read the fine print about what all the screened schools require AND ask all schools if they require or would like to see anything additional from you. Some of the schools said that they don't require a teacher rec or an essay, but if you felt compelled to give it, they would be happy to consider it. ASK if they want it though. Some schools will be annoyed by this if they specificaly say that they DON'T want it. Use your good judgement. Also, don't assume that the Principal is the admissions point person for the school. Often they are NOT and will be turned off if you waste their time with admissions. They have to run a school, after all. Get a sense whether the Parent Coordinator or a VP or Guidance Counselor is the admissions point person and address your questions and extra information (if invited) to them.

And just because you all know that I love Murrow (unfair advantage, on my site to Murrow!). Here is what I learned about them today: don't be frightened away by the priority stuff about their zone - it is small and many of the Orthodox families that live within it, don't attend. They have a very interesting new Dance program! You don't audition for it in 8th grade, but if you get into the school there is an audition after the first semester of 9th grade. It sounds VERY compelling.

Reader Comments (2)

Why do you like Murrow so much? That school has been on a downhill spiral for a number of years now. There's been bomb threats, a gun scare and a stabbing scare. In addition, the graduation and attendance rate has declined, the number of fights has increased, along with suspensions. School safety is one of Murrow's biggest issues nowadays. Votes to install metal detectors are becoming more popular within the school. Many teachers have left or retired because of the changing environment. It's just not the same school it once was. There's other medium/large public high schools in Brooklyn that outperform Murrow. I might sound biased in mentioning them, so I will not. But I'm sure you know them.

October 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersomeonewhoknows

You don't have to love Murrow. It is certainly a different school educationally than it was when it was created, but it is still a wonderful resource for Brooklyn students. I have not seen the graduation rates declining at all. They have been up and down slightly around 80% for years now (no downward trend). It has a large ed/opt population (educationally diverse), so can't be compared in that way to many of the popular screened programs who are skimming only the highest performers. According to the state reports, it has 1% suspensions (2011-12- the most current numbers available). I am of course concerned about a "gun scare and stabbing scare" but what does that mean? Bomb threats are scarey and must be taken seriously, but conversely I am afraid that bomb scares are fairly standard in many high schools even in the "safest" suburbs on test days.

Please feel free to mention the other schools that you love! My daughter had a spectacular experience at Murrow and I am very, very grateful to the superb educators and administrators that we know there. In Murrow's case, I am a mom who loved her child's school. That is why I give them the shout out.

October 5, 2014 | Registered Commenterjoyce

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