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  • LAUSD & Charter Schools

    LAUSD & Charter Schools - chieffamilyofficer.com

    According to USCharterSchools.org, “[c]harter schools are nonsectarian public schools of choice that operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools. The ‘charter’ establishing each such school is a performance contract detailing the school’s mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment, and ways to measure success.”

    Within LAUSD, there are two types of charter schools – a “conversion charter” whereby an existing public school is converted to a charter school, and a “start-up charter” established by a member of the public. Some charter schools are affiliated with LAUSD, while others are independent.

    District-affiliated charter schools adhere to all LAUSD guidelines and policies but have more autonomy with their school budget and curriculum choices than traditional schools. They can purchase services from LAUSD, hire LAUSD teachers who remain part of the teachers’ union, and have access to free LAUSD facilities.

    Independent charters have even greater autonomy than district-affiliated charters but receive no organizational support from LAUSD, meaning they must handle their own hiring, employee benefits, payroll, facilities management and more.

    Charter schools are public schools. There is no formal tuition, but most schools fund raise and solicit donations. Many schools also have substantial parent participation requirements.

    There are over 180 charter schools within LAUSD. You can find a list of charter schools here.

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Supertrooper.

    Ask for Class Supply Lists Before School Ends

    Ask for supply lists - chieffamilyofficer.com

    If you’re like me and you enjoy supporting your child’s school and individual teachers by providing classroom supplies, ask for a wishlist or supply list for next year before school ends. In LAUSD, you most likely won’t know who your child’s teacher will be in the fall, but the school may have a grade-wide list of supplies that all teachers need/want. And some requests are universal – every teacher I’ve met can use the following:

    • No. 2 pencils
    • Erasers
    • Glue sticks
    • Facial tissue (like Kleenex)
    • Unscented baby wipes
    • Antibacterial wipes (like Lysol or Clorox)
    • Hand sanitizer

    In the coming months, Staples, Office Depot, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and other stores will start their back to school sales. It’s a great time to stock up on supplies – for home and to donate – at rock bottom prices.

    With all of the budget cuts, public education in LAUSD really only works now if parents, teachers and the administration are a team. Presenting your child’s teacher with a gift of supplies at the start of the school year sends the message that you’re there to support and help them, and helps everyone get the year off to a great start.

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Supertrooper.

    LAUSD Magnet Schools: The Priority Points System Explained

    LAUSD Magnet Schools Points System - chieffamilyofficer.com

    The Priority Points System for Magnet Schools admission may be the most confusing, frustrating aspect of the admissions process for many parents. Admission to an LAUSD magnet school is determined by using a combination of a priority points system, a random lottery system, and a student’s race. Students with the highest number of points are admitted first. However, if there is a tie in the number of points, then a lottery system is used. The lottery is influenced by a student’s race since the district must create a diversified student body.

    Example: Magnet School A has 120 openings but there are 200 applicants with the following points (points are discussed in detail below):

    • 30 applicants – 23 points
    • 35 applicants – 20 points
    • 40 applicants – 15 points
    • 60 applicants – 12 points
    • 35 applicants – less than 12 points

    The first three groups with 23, 20 and 15 points total 105 applicants, so they fill the first 105 slots. That leaves 60 applicants with 12 points competing for the remaining 15 slots.

    The admission process now goes to a lottery system. But because diversification must be achieved, there are essentially two lotteries – one for “white” applicants and one for “non-white” applicants. Each school has a certain target racial composition, such as 60% or 70% non-white. Thus, the number of students admitted by lottery from each lottery group depends on the number of such students needed to achieve the school’s desired racial composition.

    In this example, 15 of the 60 applicants with 12 points will be randomly admitted to Magnet School A. The 35 applicants with less than 12 points will not get in.


    Points are awarded to magnet school applicants as follows:

    12 points for Matriculation – Students who are “graduating” from one magnet school receive 12 points when they apply to a magnet program at the next level.

    4-12 points for being placed on a Waiting List – Students who have been previously placed on a magnet school’s waiting list and are not already enrolled in a magnet program receive 4 points for each consecutive year of being on a waiting list, up to a maximum of 12 points.

    4 points for students whose “home” school is a Predominantly Hispanic, Black, Asian And Other Non-Anglo (PHBAO) School – Students whose resident LAUSD school is designated as PHBAO receive 4 points (non-cumulative). {Note: PHBAO is pronounced “f-bah-oh” – LAUSD employees use it as a real word all the time.}

    4 points for students whose “home” school is designated Overcrowded – Students whose resident LAUSD school is designated as overcrowded receive 4 points (non-cumulative).

    3 points for students applying to a magnet school attended by a Sibling. – Siblings must reside at the same address at the time of application.

    Maximum possible points: 23

    For a more detailed discussion about Priority Points, check out LAUSD MAGNETS HANDBOOK: A Guide to Getting Your Child into an LAUSD Magnet School, available for just $2.99 at Amazon (affiliate link).

    For more information and regular updates, visit the book’s site at LAUSD Magnet Schools.

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Grant Cochrane.

    LAUSD Magnet Schools: The Basics

    I will be shutting down my other website, LAUSD Magnets.com, and moving its content to Chief Family Officer. Our children’s education is a huge part of parenting and family life, so it’s a good fit here, and I plan to write even more about education as my older son approaches middle school age. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see covered, please let me know!

    LAUSD Magnet Schools Intro

    The Los Angeles Unified School District’s Magnet Program is a court-ordered voluntary integration program that is available to students in grades K through 12 who live within the LAUSD boundaries. What that means in more simplistic terms is that years ago, there was a lawsuit alleging that LAUSD discriminated against minorities and provided fewer educational opportunities to them. As a result of that lawsuit, the Magnet Program was instituted to ensure that resources are extended to minority students as well.

    There are over 150 schools that offer the Magnet Program. Each magnet school has a different theme, and offers a curriculum that incorporates and focuses on that theme. There are magnet schools available at each grade level, though I believe there are only two magnet schools that are open to kindergarteners.

    With the exception of gifted/high-ability magnets, magnet schools are open to all LAUSD students and admission is determined through a points and lottery system. Gifted/high ability magnets admit only qualified students, but the admissions process for those who qualify is also through the points and lottery system.

    For a detailed explanation of how to navigate the magnet school application process, check out LAUSD MAGNETS HANDBOOK: A Guide to Getting Your Child into an LAUSD Magnet School, available for just $2.99 at Amazon (affiliate link).

    For more information and regular updates, visit the book’s site at LAUSD Magnet Schools.

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Grant Cochrane.

    Should your child start kindergarten early?

    Should your child start kindergarten early? - chieffamilyofficer.com

    In the last few months, several parents have said to me something along the lines of: “I probably should have held him back.”

    It’s made me grateful that my children’s birthdays fall in months that didn’t give me much choice about when they would start kindergarten. I’ve watched many friends struggle with the decision of whether to start their child in kindergarten in the fall or wait a year, and as I said, I have friends who’ve regretted – or at least doubted – their choice to start their child early.

    Some of the reasons for starting kindergarten on the earlier side include:

    • The child is emotionally ready. Some kids have trouble sitting still, getting along with other kids, cry a lot, etc. Other kids fully participate in their preschool class, and handle interactions with other kids appropriately. If you’ve got the former, it’s easier to say your child isn’t quite ready for kindergarten. But if you’ve got the latter, you might wonder if keeping her in preschool for another year is actually hindering her development.
    • The child is intellectually ready. I know some kids who could not only write their names and the entire alphabet, but they could read Level 1 or 2 books and do simple addition and subtraction when they started kindergarten. Some kids get bored in preschool, too. Again, if you have an academically advanced child, you might wonder if holding him back will just make the next year more difficult than it needs to be.
    • The child is physically ready. In almost every class, there seems to be one kid who’s noticeably taller than everybody else. And a lot of times, that kid is one of the younger ones in the class. It can be difficult to look like you’re older than everybody else, especially when you actually aren’t. So parents with a tall kid might be more inclined to start their child in kindergarten than parents with a short kid.
    • The financial cost of another year of preschool is a burden. Preschool can be expensive {although it’s cheap compared to summer camp!}. So the thought of paying for an extra year of preschool when you don’t have to can be a huge incentive to send your child to kindergarten instead of holding her back for another year. That’s money that can be applied toward college savings or other good uses.

    On the other hand, there are also reasons to hold your child back:

    • Your child may be able to keep pace with her peers now, but may fall behind in a few years. As school work becomes more challenging, your child may have increasing difficulty with the material. One of my friends said her son was struggling with fourth grade math, and was wondering if he would have had an easier time in school if she’d held him back a year.
    • Your child will have to face social pressures earlier. Adolescence is never an easy time, and that may be when your child’s younger age compared to her classmates starts to show. So it’s important to project ahead and ask yourself if you want your child to be exposed to middle school or high school a year earlier than she needs to be. In fact, one of my friends who skipped a grade said that she felt fine about it until middle school, which is when she really started to feel the age difference.
    • It can be difficult to hold your child back later. Some schools will not allow you to hold your child back once she’s in school, especially if she’s keeping up academically. You may wish to check the policy of your local school district before making a decision.
    • Your child may have an advantage when it comes to athletics if he’s on the older end of the scale. While it’s statistically unlikely your child will become a superstar athlete, he may have a better chance of athletic success in high school if he’s older.

    This is one of those really difficult parenting decisions where you won’t know if you made the right choice for a few years, if ever. Ever since college, I’ve wished that my parents had held me back so that I was one of the oldest kids instead of one of the youngest – I think I would have been more self-confident, and consequently thrived more. But one of my good friends growing up had skipped a grade and was younger than me, and seemed far better adjusted in our late adolescence/early adulthood than I was. {I’d say there’s zero to no disparity now, so maybe that’s the real answer: eventually it just doesn’t matter.}

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by AKARAKINGDOMS.

    “Summer School” at Home

    Summer School at HomeMy kids did well academically this past school year, but the curriculum is only getting harder and I want to make the coming school year as easy as possible for them since they’ll be busy with multiple sports on top of school work.

    My oldest child’s teacher sent home a math workbook that was virtually untouched, so I’ve got him doing the worksheets starting in the middle of the book, right where the material started to get difficult. It turns out my younger son is perfectly capable of doing the worksheets at the front of the book, so the earlier pages are definitely not going to waste.

    Reading comprehension and storytelling have been an area of difficulty for us, so while my husband works with our son on summarizing chapters, I’ve been using reading comprehension exercises I find online. What did people do before the internet?! It’s just the most amazing thing to be able to do a quick Swagbucks search for “third grade reading comprehension worksheets” and find thousands of free printables (you can be eco-friendly by having your child read the passage on the screen, printing on re-used paper, etc.). Some sites limit the number of free pdfs (they’re basically free samples), but since there are so many sites, I’m not in danger of running out of options.

    Although using worksheets from multiple sites requires a little more work on my part to find them, I like that my children are being challenged in different ways. They have to focus and pay attention because the instructions are written differently, the passages are written in different styles, and the questions vary greatly.

    Our routine this first week has been to go outside for a while after breakfast, then come back and work at the table. As I write this post, my oldest is working on his reading comprehension exercise, while my youngest draws since he finished his math and reading already. The added benefit for me, of course, is that when I’m not correcting their work or answering questions, I can get some of my own work done. And hopefully, by the time they head back to school, my kids will find the classwork pleasantly doable.

    Do your kids study during the summer?

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Felixco, Inc..