Public school choice *updated* - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 01-19-2004, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I will try to tell my long story as briefly as possible.

Four years ago, my children attended a public school I was very happy with. Our landlord put our house up for sale and we couldn't afford a house in our school district. A call to the school secretary revealed a little-known policy in which city residents could opt to attend an out-of-district school for academic reasons. So we bought a house in a different neighborhood and were given permission to keep our children at their original school. The school they're supposed to go to is a dreary dungeon-like building in a neighborhood distant from my own.

Now, four years later, my 2 oldest children have graduated and gone on to middle school, my third child attends this original elementary school, and my youngest is supposed to go to kindergarten next year. Last year, the school board changed their policy and now the academic transfer is no longer an option. They *refused* to allow younger siblings to attend the schools their older sibs are attending, despite many appeals from myself and other parents in my shoes. So next year, I'll either have children in two different elementary schools--a great hardship since arrival and dismissal times are the same and I'm not provided a bus for dd--or I'll have to remove dd from her school and send both children to the dungeon school.

This year, I thought I could reach a compromise with the school board. There's another public elementary school in my neighborhood. It's visible from my house and I can walk there in 10 minutes, unlike our assigned school which is all the way across town. I toured the school and was impressed. It's not considered a particularly desirable school because many of the children are needy or even homeless, but it has an excellent staff, a beautiful building, and more and more parents who would in the past have chosen private school are sending their kids to this school. I asked the school board permission to send my two younger children to this school, thinking I had a good chance since the school is so close to my house. My request was denied.

I am furious! I feel like my youngest child's *right* to a public education has been taken away. The *only* way he can go to public school is if I remove his sister from her school. Am I supposed to leave my *five* year old alone on a street corner to catch the bus while I drive his sister to school? Or should I deposit dd on the steps of her school before the doors open and then race across town to take ds to his school? It's impossible! I'm thinking of starting a grass-roots group of parents who demand school choice. Has anyone done this? Shouldn't parents, as taxpayers have the right to chose which public school their children attend?

Oh, and to compound the unfairness, non-city residents are allowed to send their children to any city school of their choice for a nominal tuition. ($750/year for the first child, sibs get a discount.)
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#2 of 15 Old 01-19-2004, 11:44 PM
 
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It sounds kind of crazy that you have to send your children to a school across town, when there is a decent one in your sight. What is the origin of this policy? Can you ask for more information on how they formed this policy? If you can find out their reasoning, perhaps you can better appeal to it. Is there a lawyer among the concerned parents who can look up the law in regards to these issues? It sounds so arbitrary!

The best option sounds like to move out of the city so you can choose any school you like!

I don't have much experience with this, since in my neck of the woods there is barely anything like school choice, due to such small population and only village schools available. But it doesn't sound right, and I think I'd be fuming too.

 
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#3 of 15 Old 01-20-2004, 05:03 PM
 
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is homeschooling an option?

what *are* the origins of that policy?

good luck.
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#4 of 15 Old 01-20-2004, 05:46 PM
 
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state?
something just sounds so very wrong you cannot send your child to the school by your house
Here you would have to unless you made other arrangements
and can you get your hands on the policy or do you already have it ?
If you do go over it with a fine tooth comb..
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#5 of 15 Old 01-20-2004, 07:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Homeschooling is my emergency back-up option. I had really hoped to get a part-time job after my youngest starts kindergarten. Our family could really use the extra income. But if necessary, I'll homeschool.

The district lines were drawn during the '70s. The current school board admits that they don't make much sense, but redistricting is a very controversial issue. There is a slight chance they'll include my street into the district of the school I want, but it's a very slight chance.

As for the academic transfer policy, I'm not sure of the origins of it, but last year, a school board member who lives in my district, noticed that several of her neighbors were sending their children to other city public schools. That upset her and she became convinced that academic transfer families were privileged and snobbish so she started the ball rolling to get the policy ended. I've met with some of the other academic transfer families. We have diverse reasons for not choosing our assigned schools, so it's unfair of this woman to label us all as elitists.

I did read the new policy carefully, last year when the school board released it. It still allows a "hardship" transfer--such as if you're a single mother and your after-school child care is very close to a certain school you can send your kids there, etc. But the "academic" transfer is banned. It's a local policy, not a state one.

I'm going to do some research on communities that have allowed public school choice.
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#6 of 15 Old 01-21-2004, 03:46 PM
 
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Quote:
It still allows a "hardship" transfer--such as if you're a single mother and your after-school child care is very close to a certain school you can send your kids there, etc.
Could you apply for a hardship transfer then. Lay out the bus situation and everything and hope they agree just to get you out of their hair?

Good luck!

 

 

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#7 of 15 Old 01-21-2004, 07:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I tried that arguement last year and it didn't fly. I'm going to the next school board meeting to speak to them directly. I'll certainly point out how they're imposing a hardship on my family. There are two school board members who are sympathetic, but the other 5 aren't.
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#8 of 15 Old 01-25-2004, 10:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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*Update* LOL

Yesterday, out of the blue, a reporter for a local paper called me. He's doing an article about the city's public schools and he wanted to know my opinions: what issues did I think were important? LOL There's a beautiful symmetry in that. There I was, feeling frustrated and stalemated by the school board's policies, and a reporter calls me and asks me to air my views! So I told him about the silliness of the current district lines and about some other issues as well.

Why did he call me. Because I'm president of the PTO at dd's current elementary school, so my name is out there as a parent who is heavily involved in the schools.
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#9 of 15 Old 01-25-2004, 02:28 PM
 
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Now that shows the perfect reason to stay involved in your school through thick and thin! Good luck with the article; hope it becomes a mover and shaker topic in the community. If you can post a link when it comes out, it would be great to read it!

 
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#10 of 15 Old 01-25-2004, 04:05 PM
 
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Daylily---

Wonderful!!!

 

 

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#11 of 15 Old 02-05-2004, 09:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The article came out in this week's issue. Hopefully, this link will take you right to the article, although it will be necessary to scroll down to the article about schools. If not, and you're really, really curious, click on the "local news" button and scroll down.

I'll c&p the part where they quote me. The really cool thing is that I'm the only non-educator they quoted and the article ends with my quote, so I get the last word. The bad thing is that what I said wasn't exactly eloquent or even very grammatical.

http://www.c-ville.com/

Quote:
The implications of the performance tests include an achievement gap between students from lower- and higher-income families, and the possibility of parents being able to remove their kids from failing schools. This issue could also intensify debates over the districting of elementary schools.

“I would love to see a discussion of allowing parents to choose elementary schools,” says Aileen Bartels, the co-president of the parent-teacher organization at Burnley-Moran Elementary.—Paul Fain
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#12 of 15 Old 02-05-2004, 09:38 PM
 
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Good for you. I hope they resovle something soon for you.
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#13 of 15 Old 02-05-2004, 09:50 PM
 
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At least the board knows you are involved for sure!!
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#14 of 15 Old 02-07-2004, 06:29 PM
 
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way to go! It's not always easy to fight for what's best for your kids! Do you have access to a copy of school board regulations? Iknow their are several loopholes in ours that the board doesn't even know are there! Good luck!
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#15 of 15 Old 02-09-2004, 10:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by daylily


I did read the new policy carefully, last year when the school board released it. It still allows a "hardship" transfer--such as if you're a single mother and your after-school child care is very close to a certain school you can send your kids there, etc. But the "academic" transfer is banned. It's a local policy, not a state one.

I'm going to do some research on communities that have allowed public school choice. [/B]

My mother found be a babysitter one block form the school she wanted me to go to back in the 70's to get me into it. She took a job as a substitue teacher in a different school district and subbed maybe 1 day a monoth all year. So those days I was dropped off at the sitter and walked to school with her other kids, the rest of the time my mom drove me to school. Maybe you could come up with something like that, esp. if you were thinking of going back to work anyway.
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