Mocha Moms Help Parents Navigating the Kindergarten Admissions Process

Are your young children in the market for school? Parents can get their facts in a workshop tonight. (Photo by Robin Clark)
Are your young children in the market for school? Parents can get their facts straight in a workshop tonight. (Photo by Robin Clark)

By Sandra Lopez-Monsalve

Krista Blanchette’s son is only 14 months old, but she and her partner have already started to explore New York’s complicated kindergarten admissions process.

“It reminds me of when I was a junior in high school trying to figure out what college I should attend,” Blanchette, a special education pre-school teacher, wrote in an email. “There are so many options and factors (costs, location, diversity of student body and teaching staff, financial aid, etc.) that need to be taken into consideration.”

To help parents make sense of this process, the Brooklyn chapter of Mocha Moms, a group focused on supporting mothers of color, has organized a workshop at 6:30 p.m. tonight on “How to Navigate the Kindergarten Admissions Process.” Parents will learn about the admissions process for New York City’s independent and specialized public schools, and meet representatives of those schools seeking to recruit students.

Among the options Brooklyn parents have to choose from are public schools, run by the city; charter schools, funded by the city but independently run; parochial schools, run by the Catholic Church; and private schools.

The New York City Department of Education guarantees a place for every child in a public school of their zone. It also offers the Gifted and Talented programs for students who pass an admissions test and are chosen from a lottery. These programs are located within district elementary schools and offer accelerated, rigorous and specialized instruction.

“Applying to public school in New York is tough,” said Eisa Ulen Richardson, a writer, educator and president of the Brooklyn chapter of Mocha Moms, which has about 100 chapters nationwide. “Applying to the G and T public school programs is even tougher. If you can figure out the testing process for admission to the G and T programs and the independent schools, you will be able to apply to charter, public, parochial and new private schools as well.”

Deciding what is right for a particular child requires understanding the options. This event, for parents of children who will enter kindergarten this spring or next fall, is there to foster that understanding

“It is designed to give parents information about schools, programs and options available,” said Chloe Taylor, an early childhood educator and education consultant at The Packer Collegiate Institute, an independent school in Brooklyn Heights. Taylor will lead the workshop.

Representatives from Packer Collegiate; Blue School; Berkeley Carroll; Brooklyn Friends School; FasTracKids; Science, Language & Arts; and the Co-op School will present information and answer questions about their application processes. InsideSchools.org, an organization of journalists, public school parents, and public school advocates dedicated to improving schools in the city will be also present.

Despite its focus on families of color, Mocha Moms welcomes all families interested in this workshop.

“This is open to everybody,” Richardson said. “No matter what your background is, no matter where you are from, you are in Brooklyn. We are all Brooklynites.”

The workshop “How to Navigate the Kindergarten Admissions Process,” organized by the Brooklyn Chapter of Mocha Moms takes place Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the Brooklyn Music School, located at 126 Saint Felix Street, between Hanson Place and Lafayette Avenue.

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