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From One Mom to Another

Read on for some insights into parenthood.

I've heard about school enrollment from a number of family, friends and coworkers and never thought much of it. Now my head hurts just writing about it, let alone thinking about it.

Let me explain.

Our son will be 5 in August, and we have decided to enroll him for kindergarten this year (some wait a year until their child is older, in case they would be the youngest in the class, but this is a topic for another column).

We decided against our neighborhood school because it is under Program Improvement, and we had our eyes set on a local elementary school with a two-way bilingual immersion program, just five minutes away. I found out this school is not open to anyone outside of the neighborhood, so we were frustrated and saddened by this roadblock.

So we scrambled to take a look at our options. Our 4-year-old goes to a nursery/preschool right now, and we want to keep the class size small, the curriculum challenging and the teachers experienced. We are looking at a couple magnet schools (which would be a lottery selection and the odds discouraging) and a safety school that's up the street from his preschool. I called the school district to see what I had to do and was told the following:

  • I have to set an appointment with the district to discuss the options, but not until May 4 (enrollment opens April 4).
  • I have to sign up for tours of schools and orientation for any two-way bilingual program before we enroll.
  • In order to transfer out of our neighborhood school, we have to fill out "No Child Left Behind" paperwork as well as transfer requests.
  • If we want him to go to a school near his preschool, we can, but we will have to sign him up for after-school care at his current preschool while he's at the kindergarten up the street. Then we will have to have his preschool fill out additional paperwork.

So, starting next week, my husband and I will have a minimum of one tour/orientation/appointment a week until May just to get our son into kindergarten.

I am so not looking forward to doing this for college ...

's kindergarten-enrollment period started Jan. 18 and ended Feb. 11 and ran from Jan. 31 to Feb. 11 for the middle schools.

Moreland School District's enrollment period started Feb. 1 and ends Thursday.

Cambrian School District's enrollment period started Jan. 10 and ends Tuesday.

Cupertino Union School District's enrollment period started Jan. 24 and ended Feb. 3. 

Kim February 26, 2011 at 10:22 PM
I'm not a mom, but I can see how this can be distressing (at the very least). I don't know much about the public school system, being a product of private school and all, but I do think this sounds ridiculous! What is the problem? Not enough teachers? Not enough schools? Or too many administrators with nothing better to do than make parents fill out gobs of paperwork just to get into a lottery?! Good luck-and grab a cup of coffee and some advil for that headache this is bound to give you!
Nick Glasowiski February 27, 2011 at 08:14 PM
I know a few reasons for some of the runaround, although I doubt any of these help make the task easier: * schools are in general very wary to let students in their own attendance area leave to attend another school, because schools and districts get funded by how many students they have and no one wants to lose those numbers. * typically, the parents most interested in transferring their children around are the best parents - they're active, informed, involved in their child's education. Not surprisingly, no one wants to let those parents go easily, because when it's easy for parents to switch a child's schools, we end up with VERY segregated schools - parents who can generally flock to schools full of families like their own (i.e. involved, active families). * as for shortages, there is definitely a shortage of programs which attract parents. Particularly, TWBI (two-way bilingual immersion) programs, which research shows to be among the very best approaches to language education for all learners, are too few and far between. One reason districts have likely been slow to get these going is the effort involved in setting up a new program and the difficulty in finding teachers who are qualified to teach in multiple languages and subjects.
Mayra Flores de Marcotte February 28, 2011 at 01:57 AM
Kim, Thank you for your comment. It is distressing and for a newbie parent, I wish there had been someone to talk about this sooner. I understand how districts and boundaries work but can't help but feel like parents are left with few options/choices for their children's education. We are not saying that the school across the street isn't a good school, it's just not the right school for our son. Their focus in raising achievement and bring the school as a whole up to speed isn't where my son needs to be. He has been assessed and is ready for the next step. Right now (and I hope this will always be true) he is right where he needs to be and I want a school that focuses its efforts on those types of students. For now, I am readying myself with paperwork, proof of address and questions for our first meeting this Tuesday, March 1 at one of four potential schools we are vying for. Stay tuned for my next entry ...

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