19x190cribleadballetb001Freelance Dad, a.k.a. Gary Drevitch, contributed the opening article in this month's Time Out New York Kids, called "Barre None." The article was ripped from the headlines here at HQ, where Small Fellow demanded a couple of months back that we find a ballet class for him. (He has fond memories of a ballet class he took in the neighborhood one season when he was 3 or 4.) A few calls later, we had secured him a spot in an all-boy Saturday AM group at Ballet Hispanico. The price? Gratis. As it happens, Ballet Hispanico, and several of the city's other top ballet companies (School of American Ballet, Ailey, Joffrey) offer free single-sex classes for young boys, most of them called something like "Athletic Dance" so the guys think they're doing something sporty. The goal is to get boys interested in dance, so that they either pursue a career in the field, or eventually become part of its audience. On a more pragmatic level, the companies hope at least some of the boys stick around until at least age 13 or 14, when all those young ballerinas need some boys in the studio to start tossing them around. Our favorite quote was from an 18-year-old School of American Ballet veteran who told us, "Everybody here comes from a place where they were the only guy in the class."

Coming soon: Later this month, we're taking Fellow to an audition at the School of American Ballet (they supply the kids for the NYC Ballet's "Nutcracker" each year), which promises to be quite an afternoon. As you read the article, you'll see that the company's audition process sounds remarkably like the judging at the Westminster Dog Show.

Read the Time Out clip here, or, worse, click on our own poorly-formatted version in the sidebar at right.


It's an unusual event here when we update our Links list, or anything else in our sidebars, but we've recently added a number of new places for you to go, so feel free to browse.


The thing about the celebrities who get into hot water for their apparent parenting mistakes is that we don't really know these people, we can't know how they interact with their families behind closed doors, and we should always ask ourselves how we would feel if the media covered our worst parenting moments 24/7 before piling on and ridiculing these people.

Having said all that, this clip of Alec Baldwin calling Dora the Explorer a thoughtless little pig is pretty darn amusing.


We take our responsibility to the space-loving kids very seriously, so we want to alert you that NASA has released some new photos of Jupiter and its moons taken by the New Horizons probe in February.


A fresh batch of 10 photos, newly posted here, follows
Fellow, Tiny, and Little Guy on trips from the slopes
of Colorado, to the camel rides at the Bronx Zoo, to. . .
the inside of our pack-and-play.


It may not be the most effective method of teaching public-school students how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, but Everyday Math's curriculum model has proven to be an excellent guide for us as we devise Little Guy's feeding schedule. For example, we introduce green beans by serving it exclusively for three days in a row, then we put it aside entirely for three weeks, reintroduce it once, then a week after that combine it with carrots for a tasty review. If only teaching mathematical concepts was so simple. . .


The prize goes to Michael Winerip of the New York Times for his recent column (nytimes.com's most e-mailed!), "Young, Gifted, and Not Getting Into Harvard," in which he acknowledges that his four kids, like most of the dozens of bright young students he interviews for admissions as a Harvard alum each year, have no chance of ever matriculating in Cambridge. In fact, they won't even bother applying. We've interviewed scores of students over the years ourselves as an alumni interviewer for our own alma mater, and while our admit percentage may be slightly better than Winerip's estimated one-in-forty, when he reports that nearly every kid he meets is not only more qualified for admissions than he was all those years ago, but more qualified than his own kids, we get it. As he writes:

We are not snubbing Harvard. Even my oldest, who is my most academic son, did not quite have the class rank or the SATs.

Brother, we're hip. We're awaiting news right now on whether Tiny will join Fellow in one of the city's gifted-and-talented elementary-school programs, and to be quite honest (and to follow Winerip's example), it's really no slam dunk. We'll let our readers know how it turns out, but either way, we have every intention of keeping her. As Winerip's must-read column ends:

That day, running on the beach, I was lost in my thoughts when a voice startled me. “Pops, hey, Pops!” It was Sammy, one of my twins, who’s probably heading for a good state school. He was in his wetsuit, surfing alone in the 30-degree weather, the only other person on the beach. “What a day!” he yelled, and his joy filled my heart.


The champion phallus. . . is a long, spiraling tentacle. . . . “I saw this huge thing hanging off of him,” she said. “I could not believe it. It became one of those questions I wrote down: why. . . this huge phallus?”. . . . Most of the time it remains invisible, curled up inside. . . . During mating, however, it fills with lymphatic fluid and expands into a long, corkscrew shape.

(OK, it's really that amazing article about waterfowl phalluses from yesterday's paper. But isn't it a testament to Winerip that his column is actually beating this article for the nytimes.com's most e-mailed story?)


In a stunning upset, New York magazine writes about controversial Lower East Side magnet school NEST+M, and manages NOT to take the side of the white, wealthy parents fighting to resist city-mandated changes to their beloved sanctuary. The must-read article (yes, it is in fact it a great week for local school and parenting coverage) reports not only on the school's well-known problems with admissions policy (which amounted to: white and wealthy, good; Hispanic and African-American bad; Asian OK) and the related  bait-and-switch its founders pulled on the neighborhood leaders, but also claims that the school's founding (and since ousted) principal directly manipulated her students' standardized test scores, and ordered her teaching staff to do the same, so that her school could place among the city's top-ranked and (it was hoped) gain greater autonomy from Department of Education control.

It shouldn't be news to anyone at this point that NEST+M had a major thumb on the scale during admissions seasons, but our own takeaway from the article is that, as Joel Klein and Michael Bloomberg push the city toward a more principal-centered model, all parents should be a little wary. Much of what happened at NEST+M is specific to that school's overheated agenda, but the stories of dissident parents finding themselves and their kids blackballed by the school's staff can't be unique to that building. It's entirely possible that greater principal control may go too far by shrinking the number of watchmen of each school's  policies.

May 2, 2007 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS


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I find the stories here intriguing.

Posted by: Boomie | Dec 31, 2009 3:41:05 AM

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