There are good public elementary schools in Los Angeles Unified, writes Leslee Komaiko. But for parents who can’t afford to buy or rent near a desirable school, getting your kid into a good grade school is a mind-bending game. The savvy parent looks for ways to amass points in the district’s assignment system.
What you’d be looking for is a house in an area with a crummy home school, a school that’s overcrowded, without enough books and desks. That gives you points. So does a PHBAO home school. No, that’s not one that serves PH-balanced pork-filled dumplings to its charges. It stands for “predominantly Hispanic, black, Asian or other.” (Never mind that every school is predominantly Hispanic, black, Asian or other. Hello, LAUSD — “other” means everyone else.)
Submit your application to your desired school the winter before your child can begin kindergarten. If you’re applying for next fall, you’ve just missed the Dec. 16 deadline.
Of course, parents should find out which race or ethnicity is underrepresented at the school of choice to figure out how to identify their mixed-race child. (Or your child who’s 1/16 Cherokee. There are a lot of “Native Americans” in school districts with similar systems.)
A kindergarten rejection earns points for the following year.
And of course if the magnet (or program) of your dreams doesn’t start until first grade, what you want is a kindergarten rejection. So study the numbers carefully in the Choices guide, which has moved online this year and which should really be called the You Wish guide. It will reveal the schools that are most in demand, the ones that therefore have the stinkiest odds. That’s where you should apply to kindergarten, because remember, rejection and thus points are the goal here.
It’s good practice for college applications.
Los Angeles Unified will let groups led by teachers and administrators run low-performing and new schools with charter-like independence, but charter operators will be excluded from the choice program for three years. Few charter organizations have been granted control of schools under the existing program.