New York City is streamlining the process for applying to public middle and high schools, ending a two-round gauntlet that had parents wrestling with in paperwork.
"Parents have for a long time said, 'Isn't there a better way? Isn't there some easier way to do our admissions to our middle schools and high schools?'" Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the announcement Thursday. "And it's been frustrating and I knew it when I was a parent."
In applying to the schools, students rank their choices. Under the old system, students who were unhappy with the school assigned to them could review a list of schools with openings and apply again.
Mom Tazin Azad went through that process twice with her children.
"Many days I had to struggle taking care of this little one and a family," she said at the announcement. "and attending the open houses and all those other sort of processes for the application process."
But now, students who do not get into their top choice or choices will automatically be put on the wait lists for those schools and they'll know exactly where they are ranked on those lists.
"You'll know your spot, and if the seats do open up, you get an offer. It's that simple," Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said.
The mayor promised that students and parents can get real-time updates about any changes in the wait lists so they can gauge their chances of getting in.
"There will be fewer deadlines, there will be less paperwork, there will be more transparency, you will be able to get an update online or with a simple phone call to know what's going on with your child's application," de Blasio said. "Obviously, these are things that should have been done a long time ago."
As to why the changes took so long, the mayor said items like universal pre-K took were higher on his agenda, and that he wouldn't have believed it was possible to transform the admissions process when he first took office.
"If someone said to me when we first came in, that DOE [Department of Education] would be capable of doing that, I would have said as a parent, 'I'm not buying that,'" de Blasio said. "But I've watched enough progress to now believe that we can keep that promise to parents."
The new application process will be ready for the next round of middle and high school applications, which will open this October.