A question for parents: To fight or to flight?

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by soyizgood, Jul 6, 2012.

  1. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    I'll post up some interesting stats that sum up my latest dilemma.

    I live in Los Angeles and as such I fall under LAUSD. I have a soon-to-be 6 year old stepson coming into the equation in the coming months. I am aware of the school attendance zones for several of the schools. I am also aware of the bureaucratic mess that comes with having kids go to schools within and outside the district. With that said, let's bring on the dilemma.

    The elementary school where my home resides is a 5 minute walk away. The rent I pay is a bit high, but actually cheap by West LA standards for a 2 bedroom. I've met the principal of that school and walked around the campus. I have my reservations about this school, but I don't dislike the school. That said, here's what really concerns me.

    "Home School" API 2011:
    School - 758
    Hispanic - 763
    Black - 673
    Disabled - 662
    Economically challenged - 758
    English learners - 751

    There aren't enough Asians or Caucasians at the school to get their API. School is 86% Hispanic, 11% Black. My stepson is Caucasian and there's only 12 of them out of 620+ students. I'm part Black and Asian, so I admittedly would rather have my kids in a more diverse environment.

    I was scratching my head over the low API for Blacks, especially in relation to the Hispanics. So I did some homework. I compared API scores at all of the other elementary schools in my zip code as well as surrounding areas. And guess what? At the 4 other schools in my zip code, Blacks outperformed Hispanics and at one, Blacks outperformed Caucasians. In fact, Blacks outperformed Asians at the 2nd best school in my zip code.

    Schools within my zip code:
    CH
    CL
    CR
    PE

    I live two blocks east of school CH's attendance zone. And I live three blocks south of another school's attendance zone. I live in the Twilight Zone since the other four elementary schools fall under the same middle school (a good one), but the school by me falls under a middle school further west and is much lower performance-wise.

    Playing the "Game of Permits" is dicey given the time to apply for them is late in the school year. The option to invoke "No Child Left Behind" is a process that starts in November to mid-December and would only benefit me for the following school year (that and the kid actually has to enroll at the school). So he'd be stuck having to spend parts of two grades at the home school.

    I work in a city that borders LA and they have a solid school district. The school by my work is very good. The administrators were friendly during the tour, but they mentioned that getting in via an inter-district permit is very difficult because so many parents seek intra-district permits, leaving little to no room for the inter-district permit seekers.

    The good news is I rent, so I could just pack up and move. The bad news is things are pricey in West LA, even in the not-so-good areas. I could probably move to an area with a so-so school, but at least it falls under the zone for the good middle school.

    Given all this, should I be trying my best to relocate or find a way to get the child to another school? Or should I at least give the home school a chance to get its act together?
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2012
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  2. El Diablo

    El Diablo Hall of Fame

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    You should let the child's mother (and if he's still involved, father) make the decision. You've not been involved in the child's life long enough to participate in such decisions, other than to offer an opinion to the child's mother. I take it "soon to be" means you're not married yet. It's arrogant and presumptuous to think YOU have a decision to be made about where the kid goes to school, though you of course may have input into where you all live.
     
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  3. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    A couple of thoughts:

    Luckily we are taking Kindergarten here so going to a cr4ppy one won't end his bid for Harvard.

    Secondly I would approach grade school (where you call the shots at home) and High School (where he calls the shots) very differently. In the grade school situation it isn't about the successful transfer of facts/information, it is about grooving good study habits. The best thing for that is to surround your kid with other kids who value academic achievement, as it just so happens those kids usually have high test scores, but it isn't about the scores themselves. In HS, it is more about the "tone" or style of the school that happens to match up with the style of the kid. This provides motivation and makes the learning process way, way easier than wasting time convincing the kid to even go to school let alone doing well.

    Naturally safety is a mandatory thing, any safe school is way, way better than any unsafe one.
     
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  4. TennisNinja

    TennisNinja Hall of Fame

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    My parents had me attend a different elementary school than the one I should have gone to, and we moved to different district for middle/high school. Thank goodness they did that oo.

    Sure, a lot of people say "it's what you make of it", but at that age especially it's important to be around peers that are also trying to be high achieving.

    I know if it was my kid, I would try as hard as possible for the permit switch, and if not then move. Your case is interesting because the kid is a stepkid though, so I don't know what I would do then.
     
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  5. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    She's not from my neck of the woods (other side of the country) and since she'll be moving here with her son, it's up to me to scout the available options. My fiancee and I are getting married this year and she'll move here after we take care of a few loose ends.

    Oh and the kid's dad is a drunk deadbeat. He might see the boy 1-2 times a year.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012
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  6. Eph

    Eph Professional

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    I don't think the school matters as much as people want to think. Having said that, I won't be sending my child to Boston Public Schools, rather Lexington public schools or the Montessori school in Lexington.

    Tough choice. But don't send your kid to the poor house by moving. That won't do anybody good. Plenty of poor kids have become great adults with excellent jobs.
     
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  7. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    After we got engaged last year, I just assumed schooling was not going to be an issue since I live in West LA.

    About a month later, I started looking into the schools in my area. At first I glanced at information on the home school. I wasn't too thrilled, but I kind of shrugged it off. Then I looked further into this and decided I would rather have the child go to a better school.

    I saw three schools that have been named "California Distinguished School" recently. Schools CL, CA, and FE.

    School CL is arguably the best LAUSD school in the Westside. 2/3 of the students are children of UCLA graduate students that live in the graduate housing. About 1/6 of the children there are identified as gifted. I've heard during one of the tours that the kids are learning things a full grade quicker than at other schools. If you look at their API on my 1st post, you can't really score higher than that. Children regardless of race and background excel there. The school's funding has been cut in areas by LAUSD, so they're asking parents to chip in at least $400/child. With results like that, I'd gladly contribute. It sucks that I live on the other end of the zip code.

    School CA is closer to me than CL and I like the environment there. Once again, due to budget cuts the school is looking for $600/child contributions. However, the school only accepts SAS (school for advanced studies, implying the child must be identified as gifted) and child-care permits (both parents have to be working or studying full-time to qualify). And yes it is pricey to live in that area.

    My job falls under school FE's attendance zone. School FE is highly regarded. Unfortunately, it falls under a different school district. LAUSD sure as heck doesn't want money going out and that school gets plenty of intra-district applications. Probably the nicest looking school out of the ones I visited (classrooms have their own patio just outside). That district has a no-tolerance policy in regards to fighting, so they don't mess around.

    The schools I just mentioned easily blow the home school away. My mom played the game with permits, gamesmanship, lying about addresses, etc. just to make sure my sister and I were able to get into good schools. It's just ingrained in me to do what it takes to give my kids a good education. Stepchild or child makes no difference to me in this area. I like the boy very much and since the child's biological dad is an utter no-show, his well-being is going to fall on both my fiancee and my shoulders.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012
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  8. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    It's sad that a child's academic progression really comes down to what area you can afford to live in. I'm less than 3 miles from school CL, about 1.5 miles away from school CH (but only 2 blocks east of the attendance zone), 1 mile away from school CA (3 blocks south of the attendance zone), and school FE is a few minutes away from my job.

    Night and day in performance:
    CL - 955
    FE - 932
    CH - 903
    CA - 892
    ------
    CR - 784 (44 pt jump in API last year, less than a mile south of school CL)
    PE (lesser of the two evils) - 769
    Home school - 758
     
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  9. North

    North Professional

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    This is a HUGE thing, to have your kid in a school where it is totally uncool to do poor academically and the admired kids are the high achievers. Even if the child doesn't have great grades, you want to him to value working hard in school, learning to study effectively, and socially sticking with the kids with those values.
     
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  10. Kobble

    Kobble Hall of Fame

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    My parents lied once to get me in another school. I also spent 3 years in Catholic schools. I had some fairly rich friends. I think these environments will help keep your kids away from gangs and crime. As for keeping you away from drugs, partly.
     
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  11. Mig1NC

    Mig1NC Professional

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    Congrats on getting engaged!
     
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  12. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    Very true! +1 on the engagement friend!

    I'd like to add a bit of my experience here. In Canada our schooling system is a bit different from the USA but you know it might help to have some outside opinions. :)

    I was identified as a "gifted" student before elementary started but I didn't go to a special elementary for it. I went to a quite average elementary in the fact that we were ranked in the top 10-15 in the city and I really enjoyed it. The teaching staff was very good, and the students there made my time there very enjoyable. I was able to make a lot of other "gifted" friends and it really helped my work ethic develop young. It added a lot of competitiveness to my academic pursuits. I think as long as the teachers are willing to aid students who are willing to work hard, it will work out. I've seen a lot of "lazy" elementary teachers but I've seen just as many who are willing to go the extra mile to help youngsters achieve what they can.

    Middle school / Junior high I believe is what is most important though. As long as you "get through" elementary it's middle school where habits become engrained. I had absolutely fantastic teachers in middle and it helped excel my academic pursuits. (I also am one of the people that lied about my address to get into the schools I needed. Do what you need for education!)

    I'm finished high school and I am going into education for my post secondary institution to become a teacher. What can I say? I love school haha!

    -Fuji
     
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  13. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    Try to focus more on the emotional needs of the child in picking a school, as they are likely to be considerable, far more important in this case than some relatively subtle academic distinctions among schools:
    1) child and mother are moving across the country. Are they leaving other family members behind? If so, it will create stress and great loss for both of them, and therefore you as well.
    2) if the father gets his act together down the road, he may seek a relationship with the child. The child, particularly as he is a boy, may someday want this as well. Has your fiancee considered this in moving so far away?
    The emotional state of a child is far more important in determining academic success than arcane performance statistics of various schools. You should be looking for schools with good reputations for supporting those emotional needs.
     
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  14. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    Math exam!

    Math question. Using the same numbers for the home school and given the ethnic breakdown of the school, try to calculate the API for the Other segment.

    School API is 758.
    Hispanics (84% of student body) scored 763
    Blacks (11%) scored 673
    Other (5%) scored what?

    This assumes there are no variables to alter the equation. Have fun.
     
    #14
  15. Tennishacker

    Tennishacker Professional

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    I didn't know WestLA had that many minorities?
    IMO, what really matters is parental involvement, not necessarily the school they attend.
     
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  16. krz

    krz Professional

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    861

    10char
     
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  17. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    I got that number too. :)
     
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  18. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    In my zip code, 90034, minorities are the majority at all of the 5 schools. On my shared links in the 1st post, just click on one of the links and you can scroll through and see how the demographics have changed at all 5 schools over the past 20+ years.

    Clover, Castle Heights, Shenandoah Street, Charnock, Canfield, Palms all have some interesting shifts in student body composition over the years.

    From my experience, I hated private school in 3rd grade to the point my mom caved in and put me in public school for the next year. I got bullied by a Hispanic when I was in 1st grade and later bullied/intimidated by another Hispanic in 7th-8th grades.

    I enjoyed the elementary school I went to in 4th-5th, going from being frowned on to being able to chill with some of the popular kids. I really liked the 1st middle school I went to, but really disliked the 2nd middle school despite its academic reputation. Even in 9th grade a Korean guy threatened me over the phone because he saw I was trying to make moves on a Japanese girl. The high school I went to was probably the 3rd strongest (out of 4) academically in that district, but I enjoyed my time there.

    So I understand test scores aren't everything. I did better at schools that achieved a balance of academics and social-interactive opportunities for the students. I didn't do too well when it seemed keeping up with the Jones' was the name of the game.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2012
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  19. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    I did a lookup on rents in the school attendance zones of schools I'm interested in using hotpads.com. I want to bury my head in the sand.

    I already pay $1200/mo for a 2 bedroom. But that's cheap compared to median rents for 2 bedrooms in the following areas:

    Home school - $1395
    CA - $2300
    CL - $2776
    CH - $1999
    PE - $1795
    CR - $1960
    FE - $2000

    I'm by no means rich. I probably could live large in a place like Georgia, but I'm basically paycheck-to-paycheck here in Taxifornia. I don't know how the poor kids are able to get into these schools given the outrageous rent. I might just wait until I get married to see if I can get a place before her and her son move. Otherwise I may just have to dig in and play permits (dooms him to parts of two grades at that school), magnet application, or NCLB petition.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2012
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  20. max

    max Hall of Fame

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    Interesting quandary. I live in a small town in the *******, and you have no choice but what they give you. And very few excellent teachers want to live in a dusty small town. . . I've always figured the education provided in small towns was spotty; certainly there are good teachers (who are married to guys who have a job, so they're here and teaching) but certainly the pay's nothing special, etc. So students' horizons are limited: always saw parallels between small town schooling and inner city schooling. Of course, the super-monongahela schools are rich suburban schools; magnificent as they are.
     
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  21. krz

    krz Professional

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    I don't live in California or have children nor am I familiar with the API system. I assume it's a measure of academic performance based on standardized testing.

    But, am I interpreting this correctly?

    http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2012/2011BaseStAPI.aspx

    The socioeconomically disadvantaged score better than African Americans? and score closely with a few other groups? At least in California on a whole.
     
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  22. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    An API score of 800 is the base score for the schools to attempt to achieve. Schools that score below it could either be put on NCLB list of under-performing schools or could be subject to that list if the score doesn't improve consistently. The principal of Palms Elementary said 2/3 of LAUSD schools fall under NCLB, including his. The school by me also falls under NCLB or "Program Improvement". My concern isn't so much that the home school falls under NCLB. I just don't like that this school bends over backwards to appease the 84% Hispanic demographic while leaving Blacks significantly behind and the others possibly marginalized.

    LAUSD has school report cards, http://notebook.lausd.net/portal/page?_pageid=33,1027446&_dad=ptl&_schema=PTL_EP. http://www.greatschools.org has details on schools and the API as well as CST results for various grade levels.

    My home school's report card: here. Compare that to the school on the other side of my zip code: Here.

    Not to mention English learners also outscored Blacks on your link. SMH... in fact Blacks score the lowest in the state. But you can see from my links that if they are put in a good school they perform comparably near the top.

    It's class warfare when it comes to educating children. If you're poor, you have to go through many obstacles to get a quality education for your kids.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
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  23. krz

    krz Professional

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    I believe the link I posted is an aggregate for the whole of California.

    I just found it odd that the API for the socioeconomically disadvantaged/English learners was more or less on par with everybody else minus whites, asians, and filipinos.

    Wouldn't that suggest that being poor isn't a big obstacle? Especially in cases where the poor are actually managing to score better. Or am I not understanding how API works?
     
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  24. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    API is a formula that combines results of student's test result. Students in grades 2-5 have CST tests in English, math, and in science for 4th and 5th grade iirc. I'm still a noob trying to figure out how API works. All I know it is one of a number of measures California uses to measure student performance as well as a factor in poor performing schools getting the dreaded "Title I" label.

    The way I look at it, schools with low expectations of poor students tend to produce low API scored for them.

    At Shenandoah Street, just about the entire student body is classified as poor. While the school has steadily improved the past 5 years, I don't feel there is a strong will among the administrators to get the kids motivated and to strive for better. I've talked with the principal in which I was the only prospective parent that attended her hastily arranged tour (originally there was no planned tour until the first day of classes). The school scores low marks on dealing with bullying, cleanliness of bathrooms, and graffiti.
    API - 758
    Poor kids - 755

    Meanwhile at Clover Avenue, being poor won't cut it as an excuse not to perform well. The administration is top notch, the teachers I've seen there make learning a challenge, but fun and rewarding at the same time. 2/3 of the students are children of UCLA graduate students, 1/3 are classified as gifted. Yet the results indicate this school is motivated to get all the students to learn and perform. To be fair, Clover doesn't get great marks for their bathrooms, either. That and 50% parents marked "Don't Know" if the school has translation and interpretation services readily available.
    API - 955
    Poor kids API - 914

    API doesn't tell the whole story. But then what does? LAUSD also has Survey Reports which get feedback from students, parents, and faculty.

    Shenandoah Street
    Clover Avenue

    Back on the API for the poor, you have to realize that Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and English learners are generally classified as poor. Or at least high percentages of their respective populations are. So it really shouldn't be a surprise that the poor's API was comparable to that of the Hispanics, English learners, Native Americans, and Blacks. Furthermore, the poor don't really have access to the better schools, excluding magnets (can only apply to one of them and often time you have to try at least twice to get in), open enrollment (not sure how that process works), and petitioning to move child out of a NCLB school (to where since 2/3 of the schools are NCLB?).

    To make it even more unfair, school districts sometimes draw lines that keep poor and minorities sheltered and isolated from the better schools that have heavy Caucasian and Asian populations. Shenandoah St is a perfect example in that the students are funneled to a poor performing middle school in Mark Twain (further west of the much better Palms Middle School), while Charnock, Palms, Clover, Canfield, and Castle Heights students get to go to Palms Middle School's attendance zone. Mark Twain is nowhere close to Shenandoah Street and you have to basically pass through Palms Middle School to get there anyway. Robertson Blvd. is the psychological barrier for those living in 90034. Live east of it and your kids get treated like you are part of Mid-City and forced into Shenandoah Street Elementary and Mark Twain Middle School.

    Palms API 857, poor kids 816
    Mark Twain 703, poor kids 703
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012
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  25. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    Being a statistics junkie, I came up with another theory involving the test scores of Black children in California. If they are in environments where they are encouraged and expected to perform, they in fact tend to do so. But in places where there is little emphasis and/or encouragement on performing in class (which I suspect is quite the majority in LAUSD), they just don't. I guess you can argue the same is true for Hispanic children, but because they make up almost 50% of the students they get additional resources for assistance and development.

    Back to my mini-tirade over the API at my home school and the zip code....

    School, overall API, Black, Hispanic

    Home school 758, B 673, H 763 (84% H, 11% B)
    School PE 769, B 786, H 748 (60% H, 18% B)
    School CH 903, B 883 , H 842 (34% H, 15% B)
    School CR 784, B 791, H 755 (58% H, 15% B)
    School CL 955, B 933, H 894 (16% H, 8% B)

    Schools with the highest concentration of Hispanics and Blacks scored the lowest while the schools with the lowest concentration scored the highest. Blacks scored 90 points less than the Hispanics at the home school (nevermind that 60% of the Hispanics there are English language learners), but they also outscored Hispanics by 36-41 points at the other four schools. In fact, Blacks scored above the school average at two of the schools and were only 20-22 points below the average at the two best schools.

    School CH's scores are a bit odd. Whites scored 958 which is fantastic. But Blacks OUTSCORED the Asians 883 to 854?!?!?! Hispanics almost matched the Asians scoring 842. I could never imagine seeing such a result... In fact, I think Asians did worse at school CH than at any of the other schools (977 at CL, 898 at PE, 878 at CR, ~861* at home school). At school PE, Blacks outscored the Whites 786 to 778 (Whites scored 974 at CL, 958 at CH, 879 at CR, ~861* at home school). ~861 reflects I don't have scores for Asians and Whites at home school since they aren't available, but I estimated their API bundling them together as others and playing with math.

    Not every zip code is going to have two state distinguished school award recipients like mine in schools CL and CH. Nor is it going to have a really big performance gap like the home school's. I've had parents tell me that the scores are very important to not important at all. I'm going to have to make some tough decisions before my fiancee and her son come here. I just hope they're worth it and that they appreciate my concerns.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012
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  26. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    Update:
    I will flee from the home school.... via open enrollment! The 2012 API scores only confirmed my long-standing suspicion that this school bends over backwards for one particular group at the expense of everyone else. Keep in mind scores >=800 API is the state goal for schools to avoid being under No Child Left Behind.

    2011 API vs 2012 API-
    Home School 758, 757
    Hispanic (87%) 763, 768
    Black (8%) 673, 675
    Other (5%) 841, 697

    Disabled 662, 597

    I applied for 3 schools via open enrollment. I'll find out this week of the outcome, but I know I'll get my #3 choice.

    The #1 choice was academically so impressive (891 API) that my co-worker saw the school report card and immediately applied there for both of her kids. About 10 minutes away from my job, but the school is small and the staff are friendly. Only 4 open spots, so there will be a lottery.

    The #2 choice is conveniently in between my home and job, the principal has made major strides there and the API improved by 61 points to 830. Only 3 open spots, so expecting a lottery there too.

    The #3 choice is near school #2. I expect it to make the 800 API mark this year (at 796 in 2012). They have 20 open enrollment spots and they usually don't fill them up. Mixed bag with the test scores, but I see upswing potential with them.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2013
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  27. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    How's the football team at these schools?
     
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  28. tennisplayer1993

    tennisplayer1993 Semi-Pro

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    I went to a high school that was 45 % asian, 50% caucasian, 5% black/south americans.

    My university has probably something like 40% caucasians 25% black/hispanics. It has never really bothered me but do what you think is best for your kids. Make sure it is a mutual agreement between you and the mother.
     
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  29. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    My high school was 38% white, 37% Asian, 20% Hispanic, 5% other. Figures that the LAUSD school I really want, Clover, happens to be 47% Asian, 27% white, 15% Black, 10% Hispanic. I was impressed with how the teachers were able to conduct learning in the classes, the administration answered questions with a straight face, and the parents/PTA members were honest and enthusiastic about the school. If I can find a way to get the kid to this school, I may pay the iron price.

    Last year I attended tours at 5 schools, stopped by another school for information, and went to a booster club get-together. This year I just went to an open house, dropped off applications at three schools after doing my homework on them. The mom says she trusts me. I emailed her multiple links on each school so she sees much of the same information I gathered.

    Since I'll get the kid into at least one of those three schools I applied for, I can focus my attention on renovating my apartment (re-painting, upgrade furnishings, etc.) and other matters to make their upcoming relocation easier. I get to put my recently-acquired project management skills to the test here.
     
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