Charter Schools: What You Need to Know

by Tanya Anton | GoMamaGuide.com [Updated from a previous version.]

Now that it’s Charter Season, we want you to be prepared. In this article we’ll cover some basics and a few specifics you should know about charter schools.Charter Draft

First, it bears repeating that California is at the forefront of the charter movement with more students enrolled in charter schools here than anywhere else in the country. There are 23,000 101,060* 199,863* students enrolled in charter schools in Los Angeles County alone, and 49,840* on waitlists. Nearly 1 in every 4 students within LAUSD attend charters, and that number is growing every year.

*updated for the 2016 school year according to CCSA.org  

Charters are tuition-free semi-independent, somewhat autonomous schools operating with public funds, authorized by either the local school district, the county, or the state board of ed. Charters get their name from the lengthy legal document that outlines the many facets of the operation of their charter school – from the vision to curriculum to staffing to governance to fiscal, academic and campus procedures.

Some charters are chains of schools replicated on multiple sites run by large charter management organizations (CMOs), and others are small individual school start-ups launched by an ad-hoc group of parents, educators, visionaries and entrepreneurs with a shared vision of providing an alternative model of education.

All charters in California have to follow federal law, state ed codes, teach grade level content standards, and participate in standardized testing.

In Los Angeles There Are Two Types of Charters

Independent charters have the most autonomy to operate with full flexibility on staff hiring and firing (they don’t typically use the UTLA teachers contract so they are non-union), can make their own decisions in terms of budget, governance, overall school direction and operation, and are unaffected by district budget cuts or policy changes. Unless they are extremely well-endowed and can afford their own building, most independent charters apply for classroom space via Prop 39 and are given a minimum number of classrooms co-located on the side of another LAUSD neighborhood school campus. In recent years this process has been fraught with political infighting and less than transparent negotiations when it comes to which campuses have space, which do not, and which programs get offered which space. The current school board climate has been at times downright hostile to charters, thus severely limiting their ability to operate and serve students, let alone grow to accommodate their waitlists. Highly sought-after charters can sometimes have wait lists in the hundreds each year. 

The other type of charter is the affiliated conversion charter – schools that were a traditional neighborhood school that “went charter” after 51% or more of the staff voted to convert to charter status. More of a hybrid, these charters have some autonomy on teaching, curriculum and textbooks, some budgetary flexibility with monies they get directly from the state, but are bound by UTLA/LAUSD policy on things like teacher contracts (must hire UTLA teachers therefore subject to seniority and bumping rights), and are affected by district decisions such as class size increases, calendar changes, or lateral reductions in specific staff positions and programs. Think of them as a neighborhood school with some autonomy perks. Affiliated charters may have less autonomy than the independent charter, but more importantly they get to keep their facility (building), and must give enrollment priority to those who reside within the neighborhood attendance area. So the only way to assure enrollment, is to reside within the footprint. Many conversion charters are so full of neighborhood kids that few remaining seats ever go up for lottery, and if they do, hundreds of students may apply for them and be waitlisted.

In terms of applying to charters, anyone from any district may apply, and you may apply to as many charters as you like. Enrollment for independent charters is drawn by public lottery, which you can be present for or not. Independent charters give priority enrollment to founding families if it’s a start-up, staff members, and usually siblings of current students. Some charters will also give priority to those who reside within the local school district (LAUSD), a specific nearby school attendance zone, or to those who qualify for the Free/Reduced Lunch program. Affiliated charters must give priority to residents first, then non-residents. Each charter application process and lottery is overseen and run independently by each school site.

Built-in Academic Accountability

Unlike a neighborhood school that can fail year after year and nothing is done about it, charter schools face a renewal process every 4-5 years where in order to continue to stay open they are reviewed and voted on by their authorizing board. They MUST meet state requirements or they can be in jeopardy of being shut down. This can, and has happened to some charter schools.

Many charters (but not all) have had excellent academic results. Some are able to offer smaller class sizes, and a smaller overall student body size which can lead to greater individual attention and student success. Some offer alternative models of education that might fit better for some children than the traditional district model. However, sometimes due to space constraints this is at the expense of other “peripheral programs” or enrichments, such as visual or performing arts, an instrumental music program, PE or sports or outdoor green space, or a dedicated lunchroom or cafeteria, or even a library.

Not all charters outperform neighborhood schools. In fact, most recent numbers show that charters, on average, aren’t performing that much better than district schools. Some are, some aren’t. It really depends on the school.

Charters Offer Alternatives to the Traditional District Model
One thing charter schools do offer is a panoply of educational options, ranging from strictly college-prep academic, to crunchy-granola progressive schools, to language immersions, to STEM-focused (science, tech, engineering, math), to developmental project-based co-constuctivist leanings, to pumped-up traditional schools whose only difference to the garden-variety district model is a nicer demeanor, more enrichments and curricular flexibility. But there are plenty of choices. If the traditional neighborhood school is not meeting the needs of your child, there’s a whole range of charter schools out there to explore.

Prop 39 Co-Locations
Charter schools apply for District space every year via Prop 39 which requires districts to provide classroom space to charter schools. Due to space limitations, many charters are co-located on the side of another district school campus, housed in a set of temporary bungalows, or a side wing of another campus. Sometimes they share facilities, and sometimes charter schools opt for private space and set up in a church, a business park, or even a strip mall. Accordingly, the space limitations can be less than ideal. There might not be a library, or sports field for PE and recess, or an auditorium for assemblies, performances, or graduation, or even a dedicated lunchroom or cafeteria. Sometimes having a (non-union/non-district) charter on the same campus as a traditional district-union school can cause friction and a literal turf war. Sometimes co-locations can work in a collaborative way, but many times (especially of late) the schools like siblings, fight and campaign against each other, politically-speaking, pitting families against one another.

Still, charters are not going away and they provide much-needed options where district schools have failed kids. And, many of them are extremely successful. And, despite allegations otherwise, most LA charters are not-for-profit.

What makes a charter great? Could be an innovative teaching model, collaborative learning, special partnerships, flexible learning environment, enthusiastic teachers, motivated students and a great community of like-minded families. No two charter schools are alike. One must really do one’s research, tour and apply directly at each school site you’re interested in, as there is no one-stop centralized application process that covers all your charter options.

Charter Highlights:
-Can apply to as many as you like
-Apply directly at each school site
-Each school site maintains its own lottery and timeline/deadlines
-Some make you attend a mandatory open house/tour before you can apply
-Some allow you to apply online site unseen
-Conversion charters give priority to residents within the attendance area
-Each charter has its own lottery priorities: founding families, staff, siblings (sometimes)
-Some also give a priority to LAUSD residents, if you qualify for Free/Reduced Lunch program (Title 1), or come from a certain feeder school
-Charters means commuting (no transportation provided)
-No accumulating wait list or points
-Must reapply yearly if you don’t get in

What are the charters in your area? Please consult my color-coded maps on the school finder page of my website. Charters are marked in green.

Or book a consultation with me and together we’ll go over all your charter options.
In-personPhone.

Or check out the California Charter Schools Assoc for more info.

Want to use this article? You can as long as long as you include this complete blurb with it:
 
Tanya Anton is the creator of GoMamaGuide.com helping parents demystify and navigate their public school options in Los Angeles. To read more articles by Tanya or to learn about her Guidebooks, House Chats, Consultations, and Seminars, visit GoMamaGuide.com or email us at GoMama@mac.com.
© 2017 by Tanya Anton, GoMamaGuide.com All Rights Reserved. 

Get Your Magnet App In By Tomorrow!

echoices17-banner

Hey Guys,

Don’t forget to get that Magnet application in by tomorrow, Thursday, November 8th BEFORE 5p!*

For a list of new Magnet options for 2017, click HERE.

To get straight to the application, click HERE.

Need help? Let’s talk. click HERE.

echoices-click2apply

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Must be a resident of LAUSD. Child must turn 5 by September 1st in order to apply to Kindergarten. There are no TK magnet programs. This is the app with the (weighted) “point system.” Good luck in the lottery!

2016 Charter Deadlines – Elementary Schools

2016 Charter Deadlines – Elementary Schools

Not an exhaustive list. Please view my school finder maps.
All schools grades K-5 unless otherwise noted.

West:
Citizens of the World Charter/Mar Vista (TK-5) – apps/apply online, deadline Feb 22 5p, lottery Mar 7 6p
MV tours: Feb 17 6:30p
www.cwcmarvista.org

Goethe — apps avail online, deadline Mar 25 4:30p, lottery Apr 5 6p
tours: Feb 11, 18, Mar 1, 10
www.goethecharterschool.org

Ocean Charter School (TK-8) — apps closed, deadline Jan 29, lottery Feb 24 10a @MV Campus
ongoing info tours
www.oceancharterschool.org

WISH (TK-8) —  call school for more lottery info
tours: EL: Feb 10, Mar 9
www.wishcharter.org

Canyon Charter – priority given to residents, remaining seats up for lottery
apps avail now in each office, deadline Mar 14 12p, lottery Mar 18 8:30a
http://www.canyoncharter.com/resources/files/Canyon_Lottery2016.pdf

Kenter Canyon – priority given to residents, remaining seats up for lottery
Apps avail online or apply in person beginning Feb 16, deadline Apr 8 12p, Lottery Apr 22 8:30a
http://kentercanyon.org/lottery-information/

Marquez Charter – priority given to residents, remaining seats up for lottery
for lottery info, tour dates and to RSVP call 310-454-4019
http://marquezcharter.org/registration

Palisades Charter – priority given to residents, remaining seats up for lottery
tours: Feb 9, Mar 1, Apr 5, Jun 6 8:45a – call school for deadlines
palielementary.org/lottery.php

Topanga Charter – priority given to residents, remaining seats up for lottery
Tours: Feb 4, 25 9a – call school for deadlines
www.topangaelementary.org/admissions.html

Westwood Charter – priority given to residents, remaining seats, if any, up for lottery
Apps avail Feb 8, deadline Apr 8, lottery Apr 29
www.westwoodcharter.org/lottery-information

Valley:
Chime Institute (K-8) — apps avail online now, deadline Mar 4 3p, lottery tbd
tours: Feb 3, 5, 12, 17, 29, Mar 6 9a
www.chimeinstitute.org

iLEAD Encino (formerly CalSTEAM) (TK-9) – apps avail on site, deadline Mar 11, lottery Mar 25
tours: Feb 3
ileadencino.org/prospective-families

Our Community School (K-8) —  apps avail online now, deadline for K: Mar 4, deadline for Gr 1-8: May 27
Lottery for K: Mar 11 11a, Gr 1-8: Jun 3 11a
tours: Feb 10, Mar 9, Apr 13, May 4 8a
ourcommunityschool.org

Valley Charter Schl (K-8) — apps avail online now, deadline Feb 5 4p, lottery Feb 19
tours: call 818.810.6713
elementary.valleycharterschool.org
 
Central:
Citizens of the World Charter/Hollywood – apps avail now, deadline Feb 24 5p, lottery Mar 9 6p
tours: Feb 4, 19 9a, , Feb 4 6:30p
cwchollywood.org

Larchmont Charter/Hwd/WeHo (TK-12) —  one application for all campuses
apps avail online now, deadline Feb 17 5p, lottery Feb 27 9a
tours: see website
larchmontcharter.org

East:
Citizens of the World Charter/Silver Lk (TK-6) – apps avail online now, deadline Mar 1 5p, lottery Mar 15 5:30p
tours: call
cwcsilverlake.org

Gabriela Charter (K-8) – apps avail online now, deadline Mar 3 6p, lottery Mar 17 6p
tours: call
gabriellacharterschool.org

Los Feliz Charter Schl Arts (TK-6) — apps avail online now, deadline Feb 24, lottery Mar 3 3p
tours: Feb 10, 18 9a full
www.losfelizarts.org

Other:
SMASH (K-8) — apps avail online, deadline Mar 18, lottery early April (priority given to Santa Monica residents)
tours: Mondays at 9a
www.smash.smmusd.org

— Be sure to check out my Middle Schools List too!

As always, if you are troubled, confused or need guidance, I am happy to help. Together we’ll go over all your charter options. In-personPhone.

2016 Charter Deadlines – Middle Schools

2016 Charter Deadlines – Middle Schools

Not an exhaustive list. Please view my school finder maps.
All schools grades 6-8 unless otherwise noted.

West:
Animo WS MS — apps avail online for wait list, deadline Dec 1 4p, lottery Dec 10 6p
tours: Call 323.565.3251
www.greendot.org/page.cfm?p=3990

The City School (6-9+) — apps avail online, deadline Mar 10 11:59p, lottery Mar 17 4p
tours: Feb 18 7p
www.citycharterschool.org

Emerson Community Charter School – priority given to residents; non-residents may also apply
Apps avail online for non-res, deadling Apr 15, lottery Apr 17
tours: Mar 10, Apr 21 EmersonToursRSVP@gmail.com
https://emersonms-lausd-ca.schoolloop.com/enrollment

Magnolia Science Academy 4 (6-12) — apps avail online now
tours: call 310.473.2464
msa4.magnoliascience.org

Magnolia Science Academy 6 — apps avail online now
tours: call 310.842.8555
msa6.magnoliascience.org

New LA Charter — apps avail in person, deadline Mar 4 6:30p, lottery Mar 10 6:30p
tours: Feb 20 3p, 25 7p and Mar 4 6:30p
www.newlosangeles.org

New West Charter (6-12) — mandatory tour Jan 30 @SaMoHi, deadline Feb 19, mandatory verification Mar 19, 21 or 22, lottery Apr 6
www.newwestcharter.org

Ocean Charter School (DK-8) — late wait list apps avail at office, deadline Jan 29, lottery Feb 24 10a
Post lottery apps avail online
www.oceancharterschool.org

Paul Revere Charter (priority given to residents, remaining seats up for lottery) —  deadline Jan 15 12p, lottery Feb 10 9a – **can apply for the non-resident late wait list
www.paulreverems.com

Westchester Secondary Charter (6-12) — apps avail online, deadline Mar 18 5p, lottery Mar 21 5p
tours: Jan 13, Feb 17 9a, Feb 23 6p
www.westchestercharter.org

WISH (TK-8) —  call school for more lottery info
tours: Feb 9 9:30a, Mar 8 6p
www.wishmiddle.org

Other/Pilot school:
Incubator School (6-10+)– apps avail online now
tours: ongoing – sign up online
www.incubatorschool.org

Valley:
Chime Institute (K-8) — apps avail online, deadline Mar 6 3p, lottery tbd
tours: Feb 13, 20, Mar 6 9a
www.chimeinstitute.org

Millikan Charter Academies — apps avail online, deadline Feb 29, lottery Mar 3 3:30p
tours: call 818-528-1600
www.millikanmiddleschool.org

iLEAD Encino (formerly CalSTEAM) (TK-9) – apps avail online, deadline Mar 11, lottery Mar 25 10a
tours: Feb 3 6:30p, call for more info 818.697.8255
ileadencino.org

Our Community School (K-8) —  apps avail online, deadline for K: Mar 4, deadline for Gr 1-8: May 27
lottery for K: Mar 11 11a, Gr 1-8: Jun 3 11a
tours: Feb 10, Mar 9, Apr 13, May 4 8a
ourcommunityschool.org

Valley Charter MS – late apps avail, deadline Feb 5 4p, lottery Feb 17 3:30p
tours: call 818.988.9128
middle.valleycharterschool.org

East:
Citizens of the World/SLK (6-7) – apps avail online, deadline Mar 1 5p, lottery Mar 15 6p
tours: ev Weds 9a, rsvp online
http://cwcsilverlake6.org/admissions

Girls Academic Leadership Academy/GALA (6th & 9th) inaugural year – apps avail online
tours: can be scheduled beginning in June, call 310.914.2123
http://www.galacademy.org

Larchmont Charter (6-12) — apps avail online, deadline Feb 17 5p, lottery Feb 27 9a
tours: sign up online
www.larchmontcharter.org

Renaissance Arts Academy (3-12) — apps avail online, deadline Mar 25, lottery Apr 28 6p
tours: Feb 11, Mar 9, Apr 5 and 21 6p; call to rsvp 323.259.5700
www.renarts.org/applications.php

— Be sure to check out my Elementary Schools List too!

As always, if you are troubled, confused or need guidance, I am happy to help. Together we’ll go over all your charter options. In-person. Phone.

It’s Official: Magnet Season Has Begun!

eChoices15

The 2016-17 Magnet/eChoices application period is officially open as of today, October 1, 2015 for next Fall.

Deadline to apply is Fri, November 13, 5p.

I’ll have much more info for you on Magnets in the coming week, but in the meantime, the site is now up and live:

Visit http://echoices.lausd.net/

Parent Courtesy Reminder – Don’t Be a Two-Timer!

colored arrowsHey Guys,
Even though it’s June and most schools are out for summer, school offices are still open and working on their fall enrollment. I’ve been getting several calls and emails from you folks who have unexpectedly gotten acceptances at 2 or even 3 different schools for fall. Lucky you!!

Just a reminder that many other families are still anxiously holding out hope, waiting to hear if a spot opens up at their coveted school.

So if you do happen to get into 2 or more schools, especially if you have already filled out paperwork, as soon as you make your decision, please, PLEASE make sure you get back to the other school, thank them, and let them know you will not be attending. Keep it brief, keep it polite, you can email or phone them, but either way let them know so they can move down the list and offer the space to another lucky student.
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Here’s a simple email example. Feel free to use it:

“Thanks so much for offering our child (child’s name) a spot in (grade level) this fall. We have decided to go in another direction so we will be declining, but wish you the best in the upcoming school year.”

Sincerely,
(your name).
.
See? That wasn’t so hard, was it. And notice you didn’t have to give any explanation. Or even talk to anyone. Just simple, clean, polite. But more importantly, it lets them know. So they can move on. Breakups are hard. Give them closure.

So don’t be a two-timer. Don’t “squat” on multiple offers. Do other families a favor and let the other school know as soon as you finalize your decision. You’ve moved on, so let them move on too. It’s just good manners. And the right thing to do!

Also, the closer we get to the start of the school year, the less time schools will give you to make your decision, usually about 24 hours before they go on to the next person on the list. (It’s true. Prepare yourselves.) 
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And just in case you think you are being crafty, magnet schools take the attitude that no response means a “no,” so don’t NOT answer your phone or NOT answer that email hoping to avoid them and hold on to those waitlist points. For magnets, no response is considered a no. And turning down a magnet option (whether directly or indirectly) results in losing ALL your accumulated waitlist points.
Ok, that’s it for my courtesy reminder. Remember to play nice in the sandbox.
Got multiple offers and can’t decide? Need help weighing the pros and cons? That’s what I’m here for. In-person or Phone.

Changes in Open Enrollment: Now Thru May 22

OE 2015LAUSD’s Open Enrollment applications are now being accepted for the 2015-16 school year and there are a number of big changes this year!

•They’ve gone online!

•They’ve centralized the lottery!

•Siblings get priority!

•Apply any time between May 4-22. Deadline May 22, 2015!

•You will hear initial application results by June 9th.

Every year LAUSD faces handfuls of seats at under-enrolled schools that are available for those who want them and apply for them. Easier than a work or childcare permit, Open Enrollment seats are up for grabs and once admitted into a school through this type of transfer, your child can stay until they complete the final year it offers. No annual renewal, no proof of residency/employment/licensed childcare paperwork to agonize over, and no lengthy application or approval process.

From the site:
“The District’s state-mandated open enrollment policy enables students anywhere in LAUSD to apply to any regular, grade-appropriate Los Angeles public school with designated open enrollment seats. While the number of total seats for next year is still being determined, it is anticipated that approximately 6,200 seats will be available at about 200 schools, based on the staff’s knowledge of new housing and other demographic trends in the local attendance area.”

Quick links:
online application: apply.lausd.net
more info: home.lausd.net/apps/news/article/462889
the list of OE schools: 2015 OE List (alphabetical)

To get started, you’ll have to log in or create a new parent registration with LAUSD. (Hint: it’s the same portal where your eChoices/Magnet application history is, if you did that this fall.) Once you set that up you’ll be able to register your children and check their status for eChoices/Magnets, Open Enrollment, Schools for Advanced Study/SAS, Zones of Choice, and other permit requests, as well as be able to accept or decline potential offers online.

If you’ve never done this before, let me walk you through it.

1. Create an LAUSD account at apply.lausd.net. Click on the link to “Create a New Parent Account.” You’ll enter your email which will also become your username.

2. Check your email for the confirmation email from ApplyforSchools@lausd.net. You’ll have to click on the link they send you to agree to terms and activate your new account.

3. Create a password and fill out your Parent Profile.

4. Then add each of your children with the info they request.

5. Once all that’s set up, you can apply for Open Enrollment for each child right there from the drop down menu – which also includes late Magnet-Space Available and Incoming Inter-District Permits (from another District into LAUSD) application links. Each sibling needs a separate application. The site will automatically filter for grade-appropriate options.

6. The online Open Enrollment application lets you select up to 5 school choices, however keep proximity in mind when selecting schools as no transportation is provided. Deadline to apply is Friday, May 22, 2015.

Notable Changes:
Instead of lotteries being held on hundreds of separate campuses, the District will now centralize the Open Enrollment application process into one online lottery. Results are random, non-biased, and will go out via email (and be posted on your online portal) by June 9th. If there are more applications than seats available at a particular school, remaining students will be sequenced into a waitlist in the order they are drawn. If more seats are available than applications, any remaining seats will stay open and available until the process closes on September 3, 2015.

***Note: If your child receives more than one offer of enrollment, please notify the schools you are declining so they can offer the spot to the next student on the waitlist.

If one sibling is drawn, all other siblings who applied to the same school will automatically be granted a transfer.

After initial offers are made on June 9th, any additional offers on remaining seats will be made in order of the waitlist until all seats are filled or the program closes on September 3rd, 2015.

Open Enrollment transfers are good with no annual renewal needed and no fear of being booted off the island until the completion of the last grade offered, typically 5th, 8th or 12th grade. However, you will need to reapply for the next tier (from elementary to middle, or middle to high school) as there are no feeder pattern guarantees with Open Enrollment.

Open Enrollment options are for LAUSD neighborhood schools with available seats. You will never find magnets or charters on that list.

Here’s that link again: apply.lausd.net

Hope you found this helpful. As always, should you need additional personalized assistance, please consider a phone or in-person consultation with me. Best of luck and happy school hunting!

Scores, Schmores, What’s Your School’s API Score?

CDE API

One of the first things parents do when checking out a school is to look up its score – that almighty 3-digit API score, which stands for Academic Performance Index, as well as the 1 through 10 Similar Schools Ranking.

As if a school with it’s ever-changing community of personalities, programs and special projects can be reduced down to a simple number.

A number so almighty though, that in terms of real estate and parent frenzy, folks have gone to extreme lengths to get into the right public school. It’s not uncommon for a crazy number of offers (24! 31!) to be thrown at a tear-down house in one of those buzz-driven  “halo” (read: high-performing) neighborhood school footprints.

We’ve had realtors knocking on doors on a weekly basis asking, “are you thinking of selling?,” “are you looking to relocate?” due to low inventory in high-performing areas.

I’ve heard of families willing to rent out an 800 square foot 1 BR  just to get into a specific school’s attendance area. And let us not forget the 120+ address scammers who fudged their way into the high scoring (and highly regarded) Carpenter Elementary school, who were recently booted off the campus so that actual residents could send their kids to their own neighborhood school.

Parents come up to me and say, “Tanya, I looked up our home school and it’s a 6, it’s a 7 (makes long face) and we only want to send our kid to a 10, maybe a 9 school (making hopeful face).”

So, do scores matter?

I sat down with realtor and Beyond The Crib blogger Sara Reichling to share some insight into what all those scores mean. Check out her post, What’s Your API Score?

Beyondthecribla

In addition to Sara’s post, here are a few points to consider:

Our Governor has suspended testing (and thus its results) for 2 years while we transition to the nationally standardized Common Core testing, so the scores you are looking at are now old.

They are the results of the multiple choice “bubble in the scantron” California Standardized Testing, which for elementary school only tests English and Math, with a little bit of 5th grade Science.

In elementary school, only 2nd through 5th graders take the tests. So those students whose results you are looking at have mostly graduated off by now. Same for middle schools.

Scores tell you absolutely nothing about the style and approach to teaching and learning, let alone what else (besides English and Math) the students are doing, and how they are doing it. Nor does it tell you what types of supports and/or additional challenge it offers for those who might fall above or below the middle.

With so much national pressure being put on scores, it is no wonder that curriculum has narrowed, redundant test prep is paramount, and cheating scandals have, sadly, become rampant.

An API score of 800 or above means the school has met its target and the majority of students are testing at or above grade level standards.

A 900+ school is not necessarily better than an 800+ school.

The 1 through 10 ranking is also based on test scores, then compared to schools with similar racial/socio-economic and other demographics. A 7 school is not necessarily worse than a 9 school. (And I personally have known families who have left a 10 school if it wasn’t the right environment.)

I hope that ALL students who attend school will learn how to read, write and calculate math, but my hope is that our schools will provide so much more than those basics.

And it bears repeating, a school is only as good as its collective of inhabitants – which is constantly shifting. So, please don’t accept or reject a school solely on its score. Please look deeper than that.

For more on API scores, check out one of my archived articles HERE.
To browse school scores in detail, see the CDE website HERE.
If you need help finding the right school for your family, I can help with that. HERE.

Navigating LAUSD with Twins

(This is a re-print of an article I originally wrote for WLAPOM – The West LA Parents Of Multiples Organization.)
bksandapplesWhen it comes to schools, one thing we do have in Los Angeles – the second-largest school district in the country – is choice. While it’s tricky to understand all your public school application and lottery choices and their respective timelines, it can get even trickier navigating it with twins or multiples. Sometimes you actually have an advantage. Sometimes not so much. But the key to it all is understanding your options.
Here is a quick outline of how to navigate finding a public school with twins or multiples.
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Your Neighborhood School
Every address is zoned to a local elementary, middle and high school. This is your neighborhood school, your assigned school. Take the time to look it up, tour it, assess it, and talk to some of the current community involved. If you want this to be your family’s school, as long as can show proof of residence and get your enrollment papers submitted during “The Roundup” in the spring, (generally March-April), it’s a sure thing. Your neighborhood school will automatically accept all zoned residents, including multiples. Moving into the footprint of a great local school, if possible, is the ideal situation.
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Magnets
Magnet programs are voluntary integration programs that provide a diverse, enriched, theme-based educational environment for lucky lottery winners, with transportation provided if you qualify. This is also where that crazy weighted point system kicks in. If you’ve picked up one of my guidebooks or attended one of my talks, you should be well-versed in the ins and outs of point collection and strategy. The downside is that twins are treated as individuals. They both could get in, or only one might get in. If the latter happens, the second child would have to attend elsewhere until the following year when sibling points will almost assuredly get him/her into the program. But don’t let that dissuade you. There are plenty of twins who make it through the magnet system. Apply online at echoices.lausd.net Oct to mid-Nov for the following school year.
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Charters
LA has more students enrolled in charter schools than anywhere else in the country.
Independent Charters are free to design, implement and operate their schools apart from district and union policies, budgets and bureaucracy. Anyone from anywhere can apply to their open lotteries, (usually Jan/Feb), and the successful independent charters have long lists of applicants. But twins and siblings get special treatment: if one sibling gets in, typically all the other siblings get in too. This gives you multiple chances to win the lottery over “single” child applicants.
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Affiliated Converted Charters are district-union run hybrid charters with less autonomy than the independent charter, but maintain the original district building, facility and neighborhood attendance area. Usually 98.5% of incoming students are residents (those who reside within the school’s attendance area) who get first priority enrollment, but every year any remaining seats go up for lottery to non-resident applicants. Each school runs their own lottery (typically Feb/Mar) and most offer the “sibling advantage” – if one gets in, they all get in — but it will be space-dependent.
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In addition to the above possibilities, there are also LAUSD schools offering easy Open Enrollment, Schools for Advanced Studies (for Gifted students), Pilot schools, Language Immersion programs, Specialized Small Learning Academies (at secondary schools), and the possibility of transfers both within and out of the district to look into. In most cases schools prefer to keep families together rather than separated, however it will depend on the number of seats available and the order of being drawn if there is a lottery.
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For a color-coded map of public schools including magnets and charters by area, please visit my free Google mash-up maps at GoMamaGuide.com/schoolfinder. If this seems overwhelming and you want to discuss specific schools or strategy, we can always set up a consultation.

Tanya Added to Valley SoCal Parenting Speaker Series Next Weds, Nov 12 7p

Hey Valley Parents,
Tanya will be leading a public school seminar next Weds evening at ONE Generation in Van Nuys as part of the 21st Century SoCal Parenting Speaker Series. Come get savvy about all your public school options, including magnet and charter lotteries!

Navigating The School System
Weds, November 12, 2014 7p
ONE Generation
17400 Victory Blvd
Van Nuys, CA  91406
(just East of White Oak)

Register Online:  21csocalparenting.com

Navigating the School System