A Big Problem to Face
We of “Manhattan Kids Guide” are also parents and are facing the very thing that many other parents of Inwood Manhattan have faced before us: the stress of trying to get your kid into a good middle school in upper Manhattan.
The Challenging Transition from 5th Grade to 6th Grade
The thing is, you start worrying the moment your child enters 5th grade. It’s as if you are motivated out of fear by a timer, realizing that although early December is the actual deadline for submitting your list of choices, there’s no guarantee that after you submit it that your child will be placed at ANY of you choices.
How do You Get Your Kid into an Acceptable School?
This is easier said than done and requires a process that is even more overwhelming than getting your child into decent grammar school. So what’s a parent to do whose child is in 5th grade and will be entering middle school in the coming school year?
The Stigma of Where We Live in District 6
Some of the schools in district 6 are fine, but the specific area where we live in District 6 has a stigma. We don’t have the same options of those who only live a few blocks away from us. In other words we don’t automatically qualify for the better schools because of the city block we live in. Location, location, location, has never been so true!
Trying to Put Together a List
Our original concept for this Op Ed piece was to create a list of the best Middle School choices for Inwood Manhattan parents including both Public and Charter Schools. At the time of publishing this we are still putting that list together. It will consist of the schools recommended by our daughter’s current grammar school as well as other finds we’ve made.
The Reality of Getting Your Child to and from Her/His Middle School
The sad reality is that if we are even lucky enough for our child to get into an acceptible Middle School it will likely be one that is several miles away which in the city has 3 basic possibilities for travel.
The 3 Travel Realities When it Comes to Middle School:
(1) You can drive your child to school (we don’t have a car ourselves).
(2) You can bring your child to school by subway which means a trip there for drop off, a trip back, then a trip for pick up, followed by another return. This can easily equal 4 hours of your day as a parent just in travel!
(3) You allow your sixth grader to take the subway herself or himself (which some parents do).
Which of the 3 Realities Do We Potentionally Face?
Since we don’t have a car (and many in Inwood Manhattan don’t) number (1) is out for us.
Being that we refuse to let our then-to-be 11 year old child to fend for herself in the subway means a “no” on option for (3). Even if she was a part of a group of kids going together, we think 11 is too young to be potentially accosted by the latent dangers of the city.
Losing 20 Hours a Week to Keep Your Child Safe
So (2) is the choice we’d be forced to do and lose 4 hours a day, 5 days a week or 20 hours a week just in traveling. Of course there are also potentially an option (4) a school bus, as well as (5) an MTA bus. But you have to be dealing with very specific schools for (4) and (5) to be possible.
Unfortunately Travel is Just the Beginning
Once more, all of this travel talk is presupposing that the DOE (Department of Education) even selects our child for a decent school.
So What’s a Parent to Do?
If you are an Inwood Manhattan mom or dad, feel free to bring your insights and feelings to the table by sending us a message here. Thanks for reading our little vent.