Grading the Graders: Center for New York City Affairs Partners with Insideschools.org

Insideschools.org serves as a resource to NYC schools parents and students

Looking for a Thai place nearby? Go to Yelp.com for help. What’s the best movie out now? Rottentomatoes.com or Metacritic.com will have the answer. There are well-known review and information websites for nearly everything you could want to eat, see, buy, or sell. But what about schools?

With more than one million students, 1,600 schools, and an unwieldy bureaucracy, navigating New York City’s public school system can be a whole lot harder than finding the best restaurants. Enter Insideschools.org, which this month becomes part of The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs (CNYCA), which will oversee the site’s editorial and administrative functions. Founded in 2002 by education nonprofit Advocates for Children, Insideschools.org is the city’s leading independent, online source of information on New York schools. The site features qualitative reviews on more than 1,500 New York public and charter schools, providing information to nearly 900,000 visitors annually.

Insideschools.org’s move to CNYCA reunites Insideschools.org Project Director Pamela Wheaton with CNYCA Senior Editor Clara Hemphill, who worked together to help found the site in 2002. At CYNCA, the site will broaden its network of New York parents, principals, and students by increasing its appeal to people with limited English literacy, a crucial task for an audience that’s nearly 50 percent foreign born and represents 170 different languages.

We’re looking increase pictures and reduce text on the site so that it’s more accessible to those whose first language is not English,, says Hemphill. And we want kids to read it, not just grownups.,

Insideschools.org reinforces CNYCA’s longtime role providing critical observersation of New York’s public schools through policy reports. Since joining The New School in 2008, Hemphill has led and edited CNYCA’s in-depth analyses on public education, including The New Marketplace, (2009), which examined Chancellor Joel Klein’s small school initiative, and Managing by the Numbers, (2010), a report on the city’s controversial accountability system.

Insideschools.org fits very well with the mission of the center,, says Hemphill. We’re dedicated to creating policies that help low-income people in New York City. That means that the public school system, where nearly three-quarters of students qualify for free lunch, is an area in which we need to be active.,