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  • As a charter school the enrollment process for Dennison is different and can be challenging. Principal Kathy Krieger talks about some of the first steps of the enrollment process.

    Inside D.C.'s Preschool Lottery

    Even with a simpler application, there's a divide in how parents approach the lottery.

    Sophie Quinton May 2, 2014

    U.S. first lady Michelle Obama dances with pre-kindergarten students on May 24, 2013 during a visit to the Savoy School in Washington, DC. Every year, prospective preschool students need to enroll by May 1 to secure a spot in the school to which they have been matched in the citywide lottery.National Journal

    This article is from the archive of our partner

    Washington's public preschool lottery can turn otherwise sane professionals into nervous wrecks. Washingtonian magazine recently chronicled the hysteria and frantic strategizing the lottery inspires in middle-class parents, even though there is very little families can do to influence where — and if — their child gets into preschool.

    Raynette Lindsay, 26, isn't one of those parents. Although the public schools in her neighborhood have the lowest test scores and highest high school dropout rates in the city, she would have been fine with sending her daughter, Autumn, to the elementary school across the street. As for the lottery application, which requires parents to rank schools in order of preference? "It was really easy," Lindsay says.

    This year, the city rolled out a simplified lottery process aimed at putting all parents on equal footing. But D.C. remains divided between frantically strategizing, middle-class parents and less educated parents, who aren't used to playing the school-admissions game. Whether you think the Washingtonian moms are crazy, or Lindsay is, may depend on where you yourself are from.

    In theory, everyone who lives in the District of Columbia can send their child to public or public charter preschool. But parents aren't guaranteed a spot at their neighborhood school. Instead, they must submit a list of up to 12 schools to an online lottery, which uses an algorithm to match children with open spots. In the first round of this year's lottery, 88 percent of 3-year-old applicants and 67 percent of 4-year-olds were matched with a school.

    Lindsay's 3-year-old daughter was one of them. Two days before the deadline for accepting a space, she arrived at Autumn's new preschool to fill out enrollment paperwork. AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School's Douglas Knoll campus is a cheery place, where classroom doors are decorated with colored-paper spring scenes and a visitor might overhear children enthusiastically counting to 30, in unison.

    AppleTree has seven campuses across D.C., and the network has the data to prove that its schools prepare disadvantaged children for kindergarten. Parents who consult the school lottery website, My School DC , would read that Autumn's new school "implements a research-based instructional program that supports the development of young children's language, literacy, and behavioral skills as well as their understanding of the world around them."

    "This is a good school, from what I've heard," Lindsay says, stopping in the hallway on her way to the main office. Douglas Knoll made her list not because of its research-based instructional model, but because it was nearby and because a co-ed school (she had also applied to at least one all-girl institution) seemed like a good fit for a little girl with a baby brother. Lindsay was sporting bright sneakers and an eyebrow piercing, and she carried her sleeping son, Ashton, in a baby carrier beside her. His scrunched-up face was visible under a knitted cap.

    Lindsay and her children live in Ward 8, southeast of the Anacostia River, where most people are African-American, few went to college, and many are living below the poverty line. The unemployment rate there is 17.9 percent, according to the most recent city data. Lindsay, a single mom, is currently contributing to that rate: She was once in a law-enforcement training program, but dropped out because she felt it was selfish to choose a demanding job over raising her children.

    She submitted a list of mostly local schools to the lottery because she felt safer keeping Autumn close. "With pre-K, you've got to be right by home," she says. A D.C. native herself, Lindsay was also curious about the city's proliferating charter schools (about 40 percent of preschools that participated in this year's lottery were charters). "I wanted her to go to public charter instead of public," Lindsay says of Autumn. "I grew up in public schools, and I wanted to see the difference."

    This year's lottery was created, in part, to better serve parents like Lindsay. In past years, public schools had one preschool lottery, and then every charter school also ran its own lottery. The process was confusing, with multiple applications and multiple deadlines. "Our lowest information families might not have all the tools and information at their disposal to navigate the process," says Sujata Bhat, project manager for My School DC. "So the complications of the process kind of privileged some subset of families."

    Bhat oversaw the creation of a lottery with a single, online application. Not only does My School DC serve public preschool applicants, it also serves out-of-boundary and public charter-school applicants for kindergarten through high school. There's a second lottery round for city newcomers and families who didn't match anywhere in round one.

    Bhat's data suggest that participation this year reflected the distribution of public school families citywide. About 44 percent of families attending public school in D.C. live in wards 7 and 8, in southeast D.C., and about 39 percent of this year's lottery participants came from that area, Bhat says. To reach families and remind them about the lottery process, her team did everything from going door-to-door with iPads to putting reminders on water bills for city residents.

    The new application process leaves little room for strategy. Parents have to rank their choices carefully, and that's about it. Even so, many of the city's more affluent parents pay for the services of education consultants who, for an hourly fee, will provide a list of ranked schools custom-tailored for their child. Preschool is a particularly competitive lottery year because the stakes are high: get into the right preschool, and a child can have the right to a feeder pattern of great schools all the way through high school.

    So "winning" the lottery can mean playing a long game. If parents don't like their child's preschool feeder pattern, or don't like their neighborhood schools, they can go through the lottery process every year until they get their child where they want her to be.

    Juanita White, admissions and transition manager at AppleTree, says that there's a big difference between the parents at AppleTree's Lincoln Park campus, near Capitol Hill, and parents in Wards 7 and 8. "They're on the ball," she says of the more educated, higher income Lincoln Park parents — already thinking not just about preschool, but how to maneuver their child into good schools all the way through high school. The parents in Wards 7 and 8 usually aren't.

    White spends a lot of time at AppleTree schools in those areas, coordinating bus trips to area elementary schools and encouraging parents to get involved, particularly by volunteering at their child's school. A lottery process intended to be fair to all families can only do so much when some parents have more resources and are more invested — some might say obsessed — with winning the school game.

    This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal .

    This story is part of our Next America: Early Childhood project, which is supported by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation.

    We want to hear what you think. Submit a letter to the editor or write to [email protected]

    Sophie Quinton is a staff reporter for National Journal .
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      Lotteries to Settle Open-Enrollment Overflow Today : Education: Applicant totals are lower than some administrators expected. Students apparently favored campuses near their homes.


      Los Angeles schools with too many open-enrollment applications and not enough space geared up to hold lotteries today to determine which students will be allowed to attend the campuses of their choice this fall.

      The schools--primarily in the west San Fernando Valley--will randomly draw students' names for enrollment and create waiting lists for potential openings under the Los Angeles Unified School District's new state-ordered open-enrollment policy. For the first time, students can transfer to schools outside their neighborhoods as long as space is available and the campuses' ethnic balances remain intact.

      School district officials did not know the total number of lotteries or the number of applications for individual schools on Monday. But officials said the number of applications will not reflect how many students will enroll at a school because many may have applied at several different campuses.

      "Because we know that parents are shopping and applying at more than one school, we won't get a real handle on this until they actually enroll in September," said Bruce Takeguma, a specialist in the district office coordinating the program. "It's real hard to say now because the numbers are artificially high."

      Nonetheless, school administrators and attendance clerks counted applications, set up lottery schedules and analyzed racial balances on Monday, the deadline for applications.

      An informal survey of schools across the district showed that students primarily applied to campuses near their homes and that applications were not as high as some administrators expected.

      However, there have been more applications than expected from students currently attending private schools.

      Overall, administrators said they believe parents are reluctant to send their children to schools across the sprawling district. "I really think it's a question of convenience rather than academics," said Barbara Garry, assistant principal at San Fernando High. "There are very few students who are going to drive across the Valley to a Taft or El Camino."

      To be sure, schools such as Taft High and El Camino High, both in Woodland Hills, received large numbers of applications--Taft got 459 and El Camino 200--but those came predominantly from students who live in the West Valley. Taft, however, had space for 600 and El Camino had space for just 100.

      Because the district does not guarantee bus transportation, students might have been deterred from applying, officials said.

      At Marshall High School in Los Feliz, which received about 200 applications for 300 openings, most of the students live in neighboring Belmont or Hollywood high school attendance areas, officials said.

      At Welby Way Elementary School in West Hills, which got about 120 applications for 15 slots, officials said many of the students live just outside the school boundaries or have siblings in the magnet center that is located on the campus.

      Adrienne Serviss, who lives in West Hills and wants her first-grade son to attend Welby Way rather than her local campus, Nevada Street Elementary, said she believes the open-enrollment policy is ideal for parents who don't want their children to travel long distances to school. "People are probably just shopping for the best school in their area," she said.

      The open-enrollment season began in May, setting off a flurry of activity by schools seeking to attract students. Grant, in fact, took out a newspaper ad, and dozens of other schools produced short videos that aired on the school district's television station.

      Howard Lappin, the principal at Foshay Middle School in South-Central Los Angeles, said he received about 140 applications for 175 slots mainly because of his advertisements and through word-of-mouth in the community. "The response is really gratifying," Lappin said. "We do a lot of work in the community, and I'm real pleased."

      Some campuses, such as Grant High School in Van Nuys, will hold lotteries simply because of concerns over racial diversity. Grant received 160 applications and has space for 300, but the school must maintain specific integration ratios.

      "The bottom line is the integration guidelines have to be followed," said Takeguma. "We have to make sure we don't swing it one way ethnically."

      At some schools, the numbers of students applying and the number leaving were about the same. At Canoga Park High, for example, about 20 applied and 27 checked out.

      "I keep telling the kids they're better off in a smaller school where everyone knows them," said Sandra Benavidez, the assistant principal, who tried to talk some students into staying. "The kids will just become numbers" at other schools.

      The majority of students appear to have applied for the lowest grade levels at the schools: kindergarten or first grade at the elementary schools, sixth or seventh grade at the middle schools, and ninth or 10th grade at the high schools.

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        The pre-K boom in D.C.: Can it help end school segregation?

        By Alan Richard June 2, 2017 Courtney Daignault, a pre-K teacher at Van Ness Elementary School, leads a classroom lesson. (Alan Richard/The Hechinger Report)

        Each morning at Van Ness Elementary School, the staff takes turns welcoming children just inside the front doors. “Do you want a greeting?” asks Cynthia Robinson-Rivers, the head of the public school in Southeast Washington. Children point to images and buttons on her apron to choose a hug, handshake or a smile. “A high-five?” she asks one child, who leaps to slap her outstretched hand.

        The scene might be typical of many schools, but Van Ness, which this year offered pre-K through first grade, stands out in the nation’s capital because it is an exception to what Robinson-Rivers calls “an unfortunate trend.” About 84 of Van Ness preschoolers are black, 60 are white, 14 are Hispanic, and the remaining few dozen are of various Asian backgrounds, or listed as multiracial, according to the D.C. Public Schools. That makes it one of the District’s most diverse schools by race, ethnicity and social class.

        “Schools are becoming less, not more diverse,” Robinson-Rivers said. “The opportunity for a school like this is especially important.”

        The diversity among the school’s littlest students reflects changes in its neighborhood. Once largely industrial, the Navy Yard area is now home to Nationals Park, restaurants and sparkling new condo buildings — all blocks from long-established low-income apartments just across South Capitol Street.

        Washington has one of the nation’s highest-quality preschool programs, experts say. It’s also one of the most segregated. In the 2013-14 school year, 86 percent of the city’s black pre-K students attended what experts call “racially isolated” schools where fewer than 10 percent of students are white.

        But a new generation of parents, including young middle- and upper-class families descending on the city, could herald an end to the city’s entrenched segregation. For the 2016-17 school year, the waiting list for D.C. pre-K classes skyrocketed into the thousands. More than 4,000 preschoolers were on waiting lists in traditional and public charter schools.

        Already, gentrification is bringing signs of change: White 3- and 4-year-olds represent 15 percent of pre-K students in D.C. in the current school year, up from 11 percent in 2013-14. The black and Hispanic shares dropped slightly over the same period.

        There is a long way to go. Most of D.C.’s black pre-K students attended schools where the African American share of enrollment was 90 percent or higher, although school officials point out that the city has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of black residents. Nearly two-thirds of the city’s Hispanic preschoolers also attended racially isolated nonwhite schools.

        Nationally, about half of black and Hispanic preschoolers are in racially isolated nonwhite schools, according to federal data cited in a 2016 study by Penn State University education professor Erica Frankenberg.

        The District also has the nation’s highest overall enrollment rate of both 3- and 4-year-olds in pre-K: 84 percent of 4-year-olds and 70 percent of the city’s 3-year-olds attend public preschool, according to the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education, which monitors the programs. Those figures don’t include children who attend private preschools.

        A majority of D.C. pre-K students, nearly 6,700, attend charter schools. More than 5,900 in pre-K attend traditional public schools, and about 600 attend pre-K in community-based child care centers, according to city data confirmed by the DCPS and the D.C. Public Charter School Board.

        To enroll in pre-K classes, D.C. families must enter a lottery. They record their 12 top school choices, and their entries are prioritized based on proximity to each school, whether a child’s sibling is enrolled, and other criteria. All 3- and 4-year-olds are guaranteed a slot, but not necessarily in a nearby school — a challenge for some families. No transportation is provided for any D.C. students, except those with disabilities.

        That means that a school’s demographics may depend in part on how its neighborhood is changing, as in the case of Van Ness, and whether more parents can take the time to bring their children to school.

        But diversity is also something more families are looking for as they decide where to live and enroll their children in school. A start-up group called Learn Together, Live Together held its kickoff event at the Meridian Pint pub in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood in early April. A few singles and parents of young children huddled around a pool table, sampled craft beers, and listened to group co-founders Christopher Suarez and Jenna Tomasello riff on the need for more diverse schools in the nation’s capital.

        “It’s not that this generation doesn’t care,” said Suarez, now a lawyer in private practice in D.C. who currently lives with his wife and 11-month-old son across the Potomac River in Alexandria. “It’s that this generation hasn’t thought about it.”

        Van Ness reopened in 2015, after being shuttered for nine years. It will add a grade each year until it offers pre-K to fifth grade. The current pre-K waiting list is 444 students long, soaring past the school’s enrollment, according to DCPS.

        More typical of the city’s preschools is Cedar Tree Academy public charter school, just two miles away, across the Anacostia River. The school serves about 385 students from pre-K-3 through kindergarten, and has a waiting list of only two. “There’s not a lot of diversity at our school,” said LaTonya Henderson, Cedar Tree’s executive director.

        Almost every student is black, although a handful identify as multiracial. One-third of Henderson’s students are homeless, or “doubled up,” staying with family or friends, or even living in cars. Virtually everyone comes from a low-income family, many from the Barry Farm and other nearby public housing projects.

        Despite the challenges facing Cedar Tree and its community, the school rates in Tier 1 for quality, the city’s highest designation. Each class has at least three adults working with students to provide attention. All students take Spanish and music.

        Sadiqa Long, the school’s director of counseling and student services, who grew up in nearby Southeast, said the school is thriving. “We really don’t care what you look like. We’re going to treat you kind, and we’re going to teach you well.”

        This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.

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        March 05 – March 11, 2018dc school lottery 2018 2018-2019 Lottery Results - PACT Charter SchoolParent involvement Calabash PTO – We're here to help Calabash students succeed.Currently, there are 24 spaces available in each Mandarin Kindergarten class. .. If space is still available, a lottery will be held in June for all out of district ..The School Choice application window is December 1, 2017 – February 7, 2018. .. submit an application foravailable seats for magnet programs, Nova Schools ..

        District Comparison

        • Los Angeles Unified School District's student population of 633,557 students has stayed relatively flat over five years.
        • The revenue/student of ,871 is higher than the state average of ,991. The district revenue/student has stayed relatively flat over four years.
        • The district's spending/student of ,853 is higher than the state average of ,482. The district spending/student has grown by 13% over four years.
        Los Angeles Unified School District
        Number of Schools Managed 1,024 4
        Number of Students Managed 633,557 1,564
        District Total Revenue ,437 MM MM
        District Spending ,736 MM MM
        District Revenue / Student ,871 ,991
        District Spending / Student ,853 ,482
        View Education Department Test Scores
        Source: 2016 (latest year available) NCES, CA Dept. of Education

        Not sure who to pick? HIGHLAND, $833,071 .. such as upgrading technology in schools and teacher retirement funding. .. Every time you scratch a ticket or pick your numbers for the big jackpot, you are .. the Lottery contributed more than a half-billion dollars to Virginia's public schools. .. 2013, $1.689 b, $1.025 b, $95.0 m, $84.1 m, $486.5 m.Follow us on Twitter @NovaEisenhower. A Message from Administration · School Calendar. SMART Futures. Details · Technical · School's Improvement Plan ..Recent Posts Registration

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        realtor.com™ View Homes Near Calabash Charter Academy Recent Articles July 12, 2018 Why Are Things Becoming More Difficult for Public School Teachers? Being a teacher has never been easy but changes in federal funding and legislation have made it harder than ever for public school teachers. Keep reading to learn more. July 12, 2018 Trending: Meal Delivery Services for Student Lunches? Meal delivery services are all the rage these days, but could they be the solution to the school lunch problem? Keep reading to find out! May 18, 2018 Where Did the Members of the 115th House of Representatives Go to School? Find out where the members of the 115th House of Representatives went to school and how many chose private school over public school for their own children. Quick Stats
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        Multicultural Festival DVD Order Form – Due 6/6 School Supplies 11 Jan 2018 - 2 min00:21; Livingston HS 'lip dub' video pays homage to school's history 01:42; Legal sports ..Anjevon Smith