Fall Webinar Series Replays Now Available!

8 days until the November 12 LAUSD Choices DEADLINE!

For those of you missed my live webinar series last month, but still want to jump on some quick learning before the Choices deadline, now’s your chance. The replays are available now through Nov 12. Grab a TICKET and watch the playback at your own convenience.

Mastering Magnets (Those Points!)
Kindergarten 101
Understanding Gifted Options
Middle School Madness

View the whole series/get tickets HERE.

I have been helping as many people as possible with their public school strategies ahead of this big deadline and have a limited number of Phone and Zoom Consultations available between now and Nov 12. Once I fill those appointments, my calendar will be closed and will reopen on Nov 17. Email me if you need further assistance. Best of luck in the lotteries folks!

New Fall Webinar Lineup! Launching This Friday OCT 15!

Just in time for the Fall LAUSD public school Choices or “Universal Enrollment” lotteries, I’m rolling out a series of webinars breaking down exactly what you need to know in order to successfully navigate the complex menu of public school options here in Los Angeles. These are live, interactive webinars with Q&A. If you can’t make the live, or want to review the material again, each ticket comes with a 7-day replay, so you can watch it when it’s convenient for you.

Click on the webinar picture you want to purchase. After checkout you will be taken to Zoom to complete your registration. Don’t skip that step or you will miss out. To view the whole GoMamaGuide webinar series in more detail, visit: https://gomamaguide.com/store/webinars

Mastering Magnets: Everything You Need to Know (Those Points!)
Friday, October 15, 2021


Kindergarten 101:
Know Your Public Options
Wednesday, October 20, 2021


Understanding Gifted Options
Thursday, October 21, 2021


Middle School Madness
Wednesday, October 27, 2021


All webinar tickets come with a 7-day replay.
View the whole GoMamaGuide webinar series

Last Chance for eChoices/Magnets TODAY!


Last chance to get that eChoices app in is TODAY! Thursday, November 9th before 5p. You can go back in and review, reprioritize, or change your Magnet and Dual Language Program choices, but whatever is on your application by 5p today is what gets submitted.

To those of you who are applying, whether you are trying to get in, or to NOT get in and collect those points, or you don’t even care about magnets and just want one of those Language Immersions, I wish you all good luck!

Initial results will be emailed to you in late March.



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.

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. 

2016 Charter Deadlines Are Happening!

Charter SchlsHey folks, it’s Charter Season, meaning if you’re looking for charter school options for the Fall of 2016-17, NOW is the time to get those applications in!

Each charter school is responsible for running their own admissions process and application timeline, so be sure to check with the charter schools you are interested in to get all the specific details. If you applied and were waitlisted last year, you need to apply again this year. (Luckily there are no points to worry about!)

To make things easy for you, I have compiled a list of some of the more asked about charters. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it’s a good place to start. Use my maps. And as I always recommend:

Tour.  Ask Questions.  Apply.  Repeat.

Most charters give preference to siblings of existing students*, and many charters offer other priorities such as to founding families or staff members, students residing within LAUSD or even a specific LAUSD school attendance area, or students who qualify for the Free/Reduced Meal Plan. To be sure, read the fine print on the application.

* LAUSD has recently removed the sibling preference from the boilerplate charter language that must be included in all Affiliated Conversion renewals.

To learn more about what a charter school is, go HERE.
To learn more about affiliated conversion charters, go HERE.
To peruse my color-coded school finder maps, go HERE. (Charters are in green.)

OK. OK already. Here are the Lists.
(Remember these are by no means exhaustive. Do your research!)

Charter Elementary Schools
Charter Middle Schools

The 2016-17 Magnet Application Highlights

The 2016-17 Magnet Application Highlights
by Tanya Anton | GoMamamGuide.com

Hey LAUSD Residents: With just under three weeks left, it’s time to get your Magnet applications in!

What’s a Magnet?

Magnet programs are court-ordered voluntary integration programs that provide a diverse, enriched, theme-based educational environment for lucky lottery winners. With 210 magnet programs throughout LAUSD, there are lots of specialized school opportunities to apply to, with transportation provided if you qualify.

Additionally, since it’s based on a weighted lottery system, there are those confounded POINTS! 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 magnet point collection and selection strategy: How to get in. How NOT to get in. How to maximize your options for future years.

(Confused? Don’t panic, I’ll walk you through it! Either by phone or my new step-by-step webinar!)

In any case, between Oct 1st and Friday, November 13th, 2015 BEFORE 5p, LAUSD residents can apply online to the Magnet programs of their choosing for the following year. Visit echoices.lausd.net to apply. It’s paperless. It’s easy. And it’s free.

The Basics:

– Must be an LAUSD resident to be eligibleFalsified applications will be disqualified and removed from the program.

– No longer accepting late applications. But you can amend your online app up until the Nov 13th 5pm deadline.

– First round of Notification letters will go out by the end of March and will be sent via email if applied online. After that, additional admissions opportunities will be offered in the order of the wait list until all seats are full.

– If you “Don’t Answer” the call/email it’s still considered a pass – and you lose all accumulated wait list points.

– Students MAY be contacted with an opening up until the 4th week of school.(This DOES happen. The late notification.) Waitlist points will finalize after the 4th week of school if you haven’t gotten an offer.

So, let’s get those Magnet apps in!

The Highlights:

– You can select UP TO 3 MAGNET Choices on the application. Points will only attach to your 1st choice. (Optional 2nd and 3rd choices will be entered with 0 points.) If you aren’t selected in any of your choices during the initial automated lottery, you are placed back on the waitlist of only your 1st choice.

– You are not required to select 3 choices. If accepted to ANY magnet program at any point and turn it down, you will lose ALL accumulated waitlist points.

– Only submit ONE application per child. (Check with other parent to make sure you didn’t both apply.) Must be applying for the correct and appropriate grade for 2016. State Law governs age eligibility:  5 by Sept 1st for Kinder, 6 by Sept 1st for 1st Grade.

– You may change your selection(s) every year. The points follow the child.

– Student info (address, telephone, grade) MUST MATCH info at child’s current LAUSD school. Any changes of address must be made at your child’s LAUSD school of attendance before the application deadline to be considered for the assignment of priority points. It’s the Parents’/Guardians’ responsibility to verify student info.

– Twins are treated as individuals and require separate apps. There is a space to enter sibling info on each app. If only one gets in, sibling points will apply the following year.

– If currently attending a Magnet and wish to stay there…DO NOTHING! If you apply elsewhere and are selected into another magnet, you will be unceremoniously dropped from your current magnet program and auto-enrolled in the new one. (This has happened to folks trying to collect points while attending a magnet program. No! That’s what Matriculation points are for.)

– Gifted/High Ability and Highly Gifted applicants must provide verification AHEAD of the Nov 13 deadline. See: echoices.lausd.net/Magnet/GiftedCriteria.

If this seems overwhelming or you want to discuss strategy or how the points work, please contact me for a consultation. Or sign up for one of my upcoming Magnet Webinars HERE. I’m happy to help. Magnets are just one of many public school options.
– Tanya Anton | gomama@mac.com

Upcoming Magnet Fairs

LAUSD will be hosting the following Magnet Fairs for parents to meet representatives from area Magnet schools and learn more about the Magnet process. FLYER

West EL:
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 5:30–7:15 pm @Baldwin Hills Elementary School

West MS:
Thurs, November 5, 2015 5-8p @LACES

West HS:
Thursday, October 8, 2015 6:00–8:00 pm @Crenshaw High School

Palm’s “*High School Night”:
Thurs, Oct 29, 2015 6:00-8:30p @Palms Middle School

North EL:
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 6:00–8:00 pm @Haskell Elementary School

North MS:
Weds, Sept 30, 2015 6:00-8:00 pm @Sepulveda Middle School

North HS: “*Meet The High Schools Night”:
Weds, Oct 7, 2015 5-8 pm @Walter Reed Middle School

North HS: Millikan’s “*High School Night”:
Thurs, Nov 12, 2015 6 pm – 8:30pm @Millikan Middle School

* Meet and hear about area public, private, magnet, charter, gifted and other specialized programs – all under one roof. Recommended.

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.
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.”

(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.) 
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.

2015 Charter Deadlines Looming!

Enroll now

Hey folks, it’s Charter Season, meaning if you are looking for charter school options for the Fall of 2015-16, NOW is the time to get those applications in.

Each charter school is responsible for running their own admissions and application timelines, so be sure to check with the charter schools you are interested in to get all the specific details. If you applied and were waitlisted last year, you need to apply again this year. (Luckily there are no points to worry about!)

Independent charters open their lotteries to anyone from any district. Affiliated conversion charters, an LAUSD hybrid type charter, gives first priority to those residing within the school’s attendance area with any remaining seats lotteried off to non-residents.

All charters give preference to siblings of existing students, and many charters offer other priorities such as to founding families or staff members, students residing within LAUSD or even a specific LAUSD school’s attendance area, or students who qualify for the Free/Reduced Meal Plan. To be sure, read the fine print on the application.

To learn more about what a charter school is, go HERE.
To learn more about affiliated conversion charters, go HERE.
To peruse my color-coded school finder maps, go HERE. (Charters are in green.)

To make it easy for you, here’s a quick list of some of the more popular charter tours, application deadlines and lottery dates. Most applications can be downloaded online on the school’s website, and either mailed or physically handed in to the school’s office. Also, if you missed the deadline, you can usually put in a late wait list application, although your mileage may vary.

Ok, here’s that list! Middle Schools are below the Elementary list.

2015 Charter Deadlines – Elementary Schools
Not an exhaustive list. Please view my school finder maps.


Palisades Chtr Complex (Canyon, Palisades, Marquez, Kenter Cyn, Topanga ELs all share same deadlines) – priority given to residents, remaining seats up for lottery
apps avail now in each office, deadline Mar 23 12p, lottery Mar 27 8:30a

Citizens of the World Charter (Mar Vista) – apps/apply online, deadline Feb 16, lottery Mar 3 4p
tours: Feb 6, 9 and 11 9a

Goethe — apps avail online, deadline Mar 27, lottery Apr 14 6p
tours: Jan 22 and 29, Feb 5, 19 and 26 8:15a

Ocean Charter School (TK-8) — apps closed, deadline Jan 30, lottery Feb 25 10a @MV Campus
Info mtgs: Jan 27 8:15a, Jan 27 6p, Jan 29 8:30a

WISH (TK-8) —  apps avail online, deadline Mar 18 6p, lottery Mar 27 @LMU
tours: Jan 21 9a & 6p, Feb 18 9a, Mar 18 6p


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

New Horizons Charter Academy (TK-8) — apps avail online, deadline Jan 26, lottery Jan 30
Tours/Late WaitList: Call 818.655.9602

Our Community School (TK-8) —  apps avail online now, deadline for K: Mar, deadline for Gr 1-8: May
tours: Feb 4, Feb 18, Mar 4, Apr 8, May 6 8a

Valley Charter Schl EL — apps avail online now, deadline Feb 6 4p, lottery Feb 20 3:30p
tours: call 818.810.6713


Larchmont Charter/Hwd/WeHo (TK-12) —  one application for all campuses
apps avail online now, deadline Feb 18 5p, lottery Feb 28 9a

Citizens of the World Charter/Hollywood – apps avail now, deadline Feb 17 5p, lottery Mar 12 4p
tours: morning tours sign up list, Jan 15 6:30p Feb 10 6:30p


Los Feliz Charter Schl Arts (TK-6) — apps avail online now, deadline Feb 24 (by mail/fax) lottery Mar 3 3p
tours: Jan 29 9a, Feb 19 9a, Feb 23

Citizens of the World Charter/Silver Lk – apps avail online now, deadline Feb 15, lottery Mar 17
tours: Feb 10 11a

Not a charter but another option:

SMASH (K-8) — apps avail online, deadline for K: Mar 31, deadline for Gr 1-8: Apr 30, K lottery early April (priority given to Santa Monica residents)
tours: Jan 27 9a, Feb 5 9a, Feb 24 9a, Mar 24 9a, Mar 31 9a

2014 Charter Deadlines – Middle Schools
Not an exhaustive list. Please view my school finder maps.
*All schools grades 6-8 unless otherwise noted. 

Animo WS MS — apps avail online now for wait list, deadline Dec 3 4p
tours: Feb 4, 11, 18, 25 9a, Feb 12 & 26 5:30p, Mar 11, 18, 25 9a, Mar 12 & 26 5:30p

The City School (6-9+) — apps avail online now, deadline Mar 6 11p, lottery Mar 12 4p
tours: Feb 12 7p

Larchmont Charter School (6-10+) — apps avail online now, deadline Feb 18 5p, lottery Feb 28 9a

Magnolia Science Academy 4 (6-12) — apps avail online now, deadline Jan 16 4p, lottery Feb 7 10a
tours: Every Weds 3p

Magnolia Science Academy 6 — apps avail online now

New LA Charter — apps avail in person, deadline Mar 6 6p, lottery Mar 13 6:30p
tours: Feb 14, 17, 27 and Mar 6 6p

New West Charter (6-11+) — mandatory tour Jan 24 @SaMoHi, deadline Feb 6 4p, verification Feb 11 & 25 2-6p, lottery Mar 11 2:30p
Wail list apps for all grades accepted until June 2015

Ocean Charter School (DK-8) — late wait list apps avail at office, deadline Jan 30, lottery Feb 25 10a

Paul Revere Charter (non-resident lottery) —  deadline Jan 16 12p, lottery Feb 11 7p
**can apply for the non-resident late wait list

Westchester Secondary Charter (6-11+) — apps avail online now, deadline Mar 20 5p, lottery Mar 23 5p
tours: Jan 14, Feb 11 9a, Mar 4 6:30p

Wish Charter (TK-8) — apps avail online, deadline Mar 18 6p, lottery Mar 27
tours: Jan 21 9a & 6p, Feb 18 9a, Mar 18 6p – call 1st 310.642.9474

Not a charter but another option:

Incubator Pilot School (6-9+)– apps avail online now, guaranteed admission if paperwork in by Feb 13 4p
tours: ongoing – sign up online

As always, I’m here for you if you need assistance. Good luck!

Tanya on KCRW’s Which Way LA – Are Today’s School Choices Creating A ‘New Elite?’


Is there too much choice within LAUSD? Are all those choices creating a ‘new elite?’ What do you think?

Join KCRW’s Which Way LA? host Warren Olney and his guests Tanya Anton of GoMamaGuide.com and Gary Orfield of UCLA as they dice it up and break it down.

Click this link to stream or download the show. Then come back and tell me what you think.