As a parent of a 5th grader going through the middle school selection process, this article echoes same thoughts I've had regarding tours, need for flexible time off from work to accommodate, hunting for information, and the time & cost (not just money).
What I found frustrating is that access to information regarding tour dates (and even general info about school) varied greatly from school to school. For some schools, they are proactive and list specific dates for tours...and for some, even have direct links to register. Very helpful for busy parents who can quickly schedule appointments and instantly know available options. On the other hand, some schools (actually many) do not have tour date information on their website, which then requires either a call or email to the school; or by hearing from word-of-mouth from other parents.
Given that the middle school (and high school) tour and application process does not fluctuate significantly from year to year, this should be a basic standard that every school provides. If schools know months in advance that parents WILL be touring in Oct & Nov, then shouldn't they be proactively ready for streamlining information?
The tours also vary greatly in terms of access to seeing students during school hours. Some have evening only visits, while others have day visits. One middle school took parents on a quick 10 minute tour, but wasn't able to allow parents into classrooms because the students were taking assessment tests. Was surprised that this was scheduled for one of very few tour dates.
And it goes without saying that for middle school options, where choice is restricted to school/home district, that quality varies greatly from district to district. So much for equal access to quality schools. I also found that the G&T schools had significantly better facilities and huge discrepancies in access to sports, languages, and clubs. Again...another sign that students in NYC do not get equal access to education and extracurricular choices.