Oct 21, 2008

Learning a little more about magnet schools every day

I suppose it's partly because I bring up the subject every chance I get, but I'm learning about more about LAUSD's magnet schools every day. Yesterday, I had a long chat with a colleague who lives one town over and whose son is in fourth grade at an excellent public school. My colleague and his wife are naturally preparing for middle school, so he was able to give me more information about how the process of applying to magnet schools works.

I learned that you can only apply to one magnet school each year. I already knew that the admissions process is a lottery, and that students earn "points" that increase their chances each time they don't get into the school they've applied to.

I also knew that you have to accumulate points by applying to schools you don't want to get into so that you'll have the most points possible when you apply to the school you do want to get into. My friend told me that you can earn a maximum 4 points each year, that the maximum number of total points is 12, and that you lose your 12 points whether or not you get into the magnet school that year.

I also learned that the Choices Brochure (pdf) lists the number of open slots and number of applicants, which is particularly useful in identifying schools to apply to when you are just trying to earn points. (You do, of course, run the risk of getting in. And if you do get in and decide not to go, you start over with zero points the next year.)

Trying to understand all of this gave me quite the headache. Even worse, I know what the top magnet middle schools in our area are and the odds of getting in are quite slim. So what we really need is a backup plan that's actually appealing. At the moment, we only have backup plans that are tolerable:
  • We could move to an area with better schools.
  • I could go back to work to pay for private school tuition.
  • We could apply for an exemption to a better non-magnet school.
I suggested, reluctantly, that we could consider homeschooling but Marc was adamant that it's not an option. It's not ideal to me either, so it's more a relief than anything to eliminate that as a possibility. However, as I said, none of these secondary options are ideal. But at least we have some time to think about it.


Brittany said...

I'm not sure if you know that I homeschool. I know it's not for everyone, but I wonder if you'd thought of checking out your local homeschool community and see what's available? You might be pleasantly surprised. There are some really great co-ops out there. How about a charter school? They're starting to pop up everywhere. I think it could be a cool option as well and maybe not cost quite as much. Just another option.

Wendy said...

I am glad that you are posting all this right now. We are going through this same process with our oldest right now--we live in the Denver area. We don't have magnet schools but we do have open enrollment (they can go to any school in the district that has an opening) and we have several charter schools. Thanks for getting me motivated to really research all of our options!