Even though New York City Kindergarten admissions is now centralized by the Department of Education, there is no mechanism in place to notice if parents register their child for a seat in their zoned school, a charter school and a Gifted & Talented program all at the same time.
As a result, many seats go unfilled in September when students simply fail to show up without notifying the schools that they've accepted a different option.
That's why, despite some 11,815 children qualifying for around only 5000 available G&T district placements - making the odds of getting in worse than ever - there are still empty desks this November at many coveted programs.
Among the schools lacking students are District 3's PS 163 (whose G&T program we highlighted, here; the same one the New York Times was shocked to discover so racially segregated), PS 165 and PS 15.
Parents who would like to move their qualified child into these programs were told to apply not to the school, but to the DOE's central office.
However, the DOE's central office is sticking to their October 31 deadline to finalize class lists and not approving any transfers, despite admitted availability.
This week, Council Member Gale Brewer (the same Gale Brewer who once threatened to "strangle any parent I find who moved from (a public school) into a charter school," she is, for the record, the Public Advocate-elect) and Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell sent a letter to Chancellor Walcott to object.
The letter reads, in part:
We recently heard from a number of constituents that there is under-enrollment in a number of District 3 Gifted and Talented (G&T) programs, most notably at PS163 and PS165.
Considering the extremely high number of students who qualified for G&T this year, we were shocked to hear this.
We further understand that there are currently qualified families interested in these open seats, and have heard of two specific instances at PS165 alone in which families have been told that they are too late to enroll in the G&T program there, despite the fact that there is plenty of availability.
As you know, G&T programs typically experience more attrition over the years than normal classrooms, so the fact that the kindergarten and first grade classes are not full – a parent at PS165 has reported to us attendance as low as 13 and 15, respectively – is going to impact the success of these schools' G&T programs for many years to come. What is more, when families are clamoring for G&T seats, and many students qualified but did not receive G&T offers, it is unconscionable that seats are going unfilled.
If, as we understand, the schools and principals are eager to fill these seats, I urge you to waive the requirement that all enrollment changes be made by October 31st in order to fill these G&T classrooms. Especially in a year in which the G&T enrollment process was overhauled and unprecedented numbers of children qualified, allowances must be made in order to enable as many students as possible to enroll in the G&T programs they requested.
Parents of children interested in the above seats, as well as at PS 15 in District 1 are advised to check in with either Ms. Brewer's or Mr. O'Donnell's offices.
In the meantime, if you do not receive a seat, don't worry too much. Research shows there is practically no added value to being in a Gifted & Talented program, anyway.