About those charter school wait lists

Who will help these children as they wither on the charter school wait list?

Here’s a true story:

You’re a mom, and your son is four years old and you want him in full day kindergarten. In fact, you need him in full day kindergarten because you are just out of school, and the economy is bad, and you cannot afford childcare.

You want to register him for the fall but Boston Public Schools is really confusing. You like the school down the street but you find out there is a lottery, and you have to tour schools, and rank them and make sure you get your application in the first round or else everyone tells you that you are toast.

You do everything you are told but then you are informed there is no guarantee that you will even get a seat. This would be very bad.

You then hear, you are not sure where, that there are charter schools that are also public schools but they have a separate lottery. You don’t know anything about charter schools but you really need a K1 seat so you apply to one.

On the day that the charter school has a lottery you call to find out the result. The really harried secretary cannot give you any information. She tells you that if you get in you will receive a letter. That is the last that you hear from them.

But it’s ok because you actually get a seat at the BPS school down the street and your family loves it. There is a great community, and the kindergarten teacher is excellent. You feel lucky.

Years go by.

You are completely settled into your new school and look forward to your daughter attending as well. You have also learned more about charter schools such as their effect on local schools, their high attrition rates and their rough disciplinary practices. You are really glad you didn’t send your son to a charter school.

Then one day you get a letter informing you that if you do not respond you will be taken off the charter schools wait list. You are more than a little surprised because you applied years ago and hadn’t ever once heard from them.

You didn’t even know your name was on a wait list but turns out politicians are really concerned about your name on that wait list.

Charlie Baker just slashed millions of dollars from kindergarten, but he can’t sleep at night thinking about your name on that charter school wait list. He’s willing to do anything to help you get your name off that wait list that you didn’t realize you were on.

Secretary of Education Jim Peyser simply cannot go on knowing that your name is on that wait list. In fact, he’s pushing the mayor of Boston to be less protective of BPS in order to help you. He hopes to destroy the school that you love to get your name off that wait list you didn’t know you were on.

Point is, politicians make hay out of the charter school wait list as if the families on them were making a political statement by applying to a charter school. I’m sure there are families that do reject BPS and only want a charter school, but most families are just looking for a school. They aren’t rejecting anything. They aren’t making a statement in the education wars. If they are like I was, they didn’t even know a war was going on.

Stop politicizing our actions. Stop threatening to destroy the schools that we love and that we are committed to for your own political agenda.

7 thoughts on “About those charter school wait lists

  1. So true!!! When my son was three we put his name on a charter lottery list, basically covering a range of different school options as we were learning about local schools. Two years later, three days before school we got a phone call saying that he’d gotten into 1st grade in this school. He’d already been at his BPS school for two years, but we knew he had a hard year coming up (the two solid 1st grade teachers in his school had jumped ship when Bilingual Ed was being slashed, as was the BPS budget) and I thought maybe we should take a look. When I asked if we could come see the school the next day, the woman said that we had to give an answer right then and there on the phone or we’d lose the seat. No, they could not wait one day so we could see the school. I was shocked and asked her to reiterate. “No, you cannot come and visit the school. You need to accept right now if you want the seat. Otherwise, I can put your son’s name on the bottom of the wait list and you can try to get in again.” This was enough to turn me off right there. Any school that thought we’d accept seat without actually seeing the school didn’t sound like a good match to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Do you plan to come to the hearing on charter school bills at the State House on Tuesday the 13th? Legislators should hear this.


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