Kindergarten Woes

image via flickr by bennthewolfe

I’m venting today because I’m ridiculously stressed out. Over kindergarten.

When I grew up, and probably still in a lot of places, you went to the school you lived near, end of story. It might not have been the greatest school, but it was good enough. And safe.

Now I live in Los Angeles and am in arguably one of the worst school districts in the country. We live in a decent area, affluent even. Our neighborhood school isn’t great and it’s in a vicious cycle of getting worse.

Because the school isn’t great, most people around here send their kids to private school, magnets, or charters. To fill their seats and keep state funding, the school buses in kids from the inner city. Since inner city kids don’t have the same advantages as the kids in the area, like going to preschool, having educated parents at home, going to mommy-n-me classes, they start kindergarten academically behind most of the kids in this area. So, the school isn’t good, so no one sends their kids there, so more kids are bussed in, and so it keeps going down the drain.  And no one, no way, sends their kids to the middle school or high school in the area. They are flat out dangerous.

It’s not just our school either, it is affecting the other schools in the area as well, so there are more and more people applying for the charter and magnet schools.

If you’re unfamiliar with the terms. A magnet school is a school with a special focus, like science, the arts, etc. It is state funded and part of the school district, and therefore free, but still must teach to the test.  A charter school is also state funded and free, but not part of the school district so it has a lot more leeway as far as how they go about teaching. They may use some alternative teaching methods (which I’m all for).

We have a charter near us and a school that is both a charter and a magnet.

We really want our kids to go to the magnet/charter. Because the magnets are controlled by the school district, you can only apply for one and there is a lottery for the spots based on a point system.

In our district, points are given for having a sibling at the same school, having your home school be predominantly minority (ours is), and for applying previously and being put on the wait list.

There is also a charter school near us. They assign preference only for siblings or students of faculty members. Then they hold a lottery.

We applied to both schools along with apparently everyone in our area. We found out last week we were wait listed at both schools. Sammy’s in the 40’s at both which means we will not be getting in to either school almost definitely.

We are applying now, probably along with all the other people on both wait lists (there are 300 names on the magnet school list), to be granted permission to leave the district and attend school in a nearby district that has good schools.

I’m not optimistic. The other district is actively seeking students by sending fliers out to the area preschools and mass e-mails. They have a page on their website dedicated to explaining the process and links to our district’s site for the forms we need to fill out.  They even have links to where to go to appeal when you get turned down, because they turn almost everyone down initially.

If we get a permit out of our district, we have to go to the other district and face interviews. Interviews for kindergarten! They’ll let us know no earlier than August if we get in.  Registration for our home school closes for the summer June 17th.  So, I have to register Samantha there.

Frankly, I’m pissed. It shouldn’t be this stressful to go to kindergarten. Our schools should be safe and effective and I shouldn’t have to pay $10k a year for kindergarten. (Yes, private school is  at least that much around here. And no, we can’t afford that, especially for 3 kids.)

Now, not only do I have to worry that my child’s education is going to be hindered while she waits for the rest of her class to catch up to her, but what do I do next year?

Apply for the magnet and charters again? Of course. We’ll have more points since we got wait listed this year.  But my shy little girl might have some friends I’m going to have to tear her away from. I shouldn’t have to sacrifice her social development for her academic one.

What if we get into the other school district? Great. There’s a new law we don’t have to reapply next year. But we will for middle school and high school. What if she doesn’t get in then and she’s torn away from her friends she’s had for six years?

What if we can never get out of our home school? Is her education going to be lacking? Is she going to be safe? I toured the school. Some of the older kids were bigger than I am (I’m 5’8″), clearly outweighed me, and were kind of scary.  There were also clearly behavioral issues in the kindergarten classrooms. This was in early April, so no blaming it on new kindergartners not used to school.

And then what about my other two? Getting Sammy into a magnet/charter might happen, but there are siblings this year that didn’t get in. Getting a permit out of the district for Sammy does not mean I’ll be granted one for Penny and Ella. So I have to go to two schools? Three? So my kids get different educational experiences? How is that fair to them?

I am so stressed out I actually broke out in hives when I found out we didn’t get into the second school. Hives. It’s crazy.

I have no answers. Just stress and anger. It’s kindergarten for crying out loud. Not an Ivy League university.

Anyone have a similar situation? Any advice? Any one else in L.A. not pleased right now?

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18 Responses to “Kindergarten Woes”

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  1. abi says:

    My little one is only fourteen months but I totally feel you. And I live in what would be considered a pretty decent area. The test results and graduation rates are all ok, and I would definitely call them safe but I’m looking seriously into homeschooling. I don’t like the teaching to the test, treating all the kids the same, lack of one on one attention, busywork and stuff I consider to be wasting time that could be spent on learning, and things like bullying and peer pressure.

    The only charters available to me are in the city, which means something like a forty-five minute one way commute.

    I think it’s shameful that our public schools are in the state that they are. All parents should have the option of a good free school, without lotteries and interviews.

    • Jessica Anne says:

      That’s exactly the problem. All the teaching to the tests and busywork hinders learning. I now completely understand the home schooling thing, although I don’t think I have the patience for it myself.

      Our public schools are so bogged down in politics and unions, they’ve become ineffective. It’s a sad state.

  2. Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli
    Twitter: kristinglas

    I’m so sorry! It’s shocking to me that your home school is such a bad option. Is there a semi-private kindergarten option? I’m sure you’ve researched all the choices.
    Send Sammy to me and she and Laila can go to school together.

    • Jessica Anne says:

      It shocks me too. I knew it wasn’t great, but I thought it would be okay-ish. Not so much. And I think I’ve run out of options.

      Are you offering Canadian boarding school? ;)

  3. Amanda says:

    I really feel for you. We would have been faced with a similar situation if we were still living in the Bay Area. Just thinking about it stressed me out beyond belief. I had considered home schooling back then … but this was before I had three kids. With three kids, I’m not sure I would have the patience for it. It’s challenging enough just to get everyone clothed, fed, and still in one piece by the end of the day sometimes.

    • Jessica Anne says:

      Thanks. From what I understand, the Bay Area is exactly the same situation.

      I agree, home schooling is a good theory, but I just don’t know how I’d manage with 3, and especially with 2 younger. I think it would just be too hard to accomplish any school work on any given day. Just like you, getting through the day with just the basics can be a challenge.

  4. Jayne @ Mimi to Tee and Bee
    Twitter: oneinpurpose

    Homeschool. These reasons are why I chose to homeschool Tee’s dad 20 years ago. Your reasons are actually greater than ours were and I didn’t think that was possible.

    I knew someone who had children in Cali schools about 10 years ago…maybe a bit more. Her children were on 2 different school years…2 different school schedules. She really needed a part-time job to help and couldn’t do it because of how goofy the school system was.

    As backwards (compared to my school years) as our little town’s schools may be at times, I would choose them anyday over what previously were amazing schools in the Chicago area where I grew up.
    Jayne @ Mimi to Tee and Bee´s last post ..20 Recycle Points

    • Jessica Anne says:

      I never thought homeschooling was something I would even consider, but now I fully understand the reasons. I just don’t think I’m cut out for it. Maybe I’ll change my mind if we wind up at our local school.

      It’s so sad how badly the education system in major cities has become. I’d take a little backwards over what we have now anyday, too.

      • Jayne @ Mimi to Tee and Bee
        Twitter: oneinpurpose

        There are many ways to homeschool and that’s what, in many ways, makes it such a neat option. One family I know, who had a farm, spent a school year studying the Little House series. All of their curriculum was drawn from the book. One thing that pops into my mind is that they made dresses like Laura’s for their Home Ec class.

        Here is a list of some California homeschool groups I found:
        Jayne @ Mimi to Tee and Bee´s last post ..20 Recycle Points

  5. x says:

    Hi there,

    First visit on your blog and this post caught my eye, but I thought I’d encourage you to homeschool. :) If you don’t feel that you are “cut out for it,” you don’t have to do it on your own! There are plenty of great programs out there that lay out everything you need to do, when you need to do it, and many even provide you with teacher help and legit accreditation! I did Calvert School’s program (you can get it accredited or not accredited, and it’s an excellent program!!), but I hear that K12 is also very good (accredited and if I’m not mistaken, it’s free!). Needless to say, there are tons more, but those two are probably some of the best-known secular programs out there. If you’re a Christian, I hear that Sonlight (not accredited) is excellent as well.

    Good luck!

  6. Susie B. Homemaker
    Twitter: susiebhomemaker

    I can definitely relate- our oldest is in Kindergarten and we did school of choice for her. The school in our area isn’t that great. Last year though for Young 4’s we couldn’t get her in anywhere else so she went to the one in our area. When we applied for school of choice I put down 2 options and thankfully we got our 2nd one.
    Susie B. Homemaker´s last post ..Im Guest Posting Today!!

  7. Jen @ LitasWorld
    Twitter: litasworld

    ugh…I’m so sorry to hear this!! I actually feel stressed just from reading about what you’re going through…I wish I had advice…I’ll send positive vibes that hopefully something …keep us updated if anything comes about…please…


  1. […] you recall my last rant post about our kindergarten woes, we had been wait listed with little hope of getting in to two charter schools and were in the […]

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