Hartford-Area Parents Get Results of School Choice Lotteries: Joy and Frustration

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Hartford magnetHometowns of Students that Attend 1 Interdistrict Magnet School


Last week, parents in the Hartford area learned of the results of local and regional school choice lotteries. As our readers may already know, the Regional School Choice Office (RSCO) conducts a few lotteries each spring to determine school assignment in inter-district magnet school and the Open Choice. Hartford Public Schools also conducts a lottery/school assignment process for non-magnet schools within the city limits.

The RSCO school lottery is directly related to implementation of the Sheff v. O’Neill case settlement to desegregate Hartford’s schools through magnet schools and Open Choice. The local lottery for non-magnet themed schools was part of the local Hartford response to competition from heavily state-subsidized inter-district magnet schools operated by the Hartford Public Schools, Goodwin College, and the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC).

Below are comments from parents, mostly Black and Latin@ mothers, after learning the results of the RSCO and local school lotteries. There is both joy and frustration at the process.

These comments were obtained through multiple sources including private messages to this author, Facebook, and Twitter. They are scattered comments gathered through social networks and shared with the permission of the parents. Names of children, parents, and schools, as well as ages and locations, have been removed.

As the CT Mirror reported last year, the acceptance rate to magnet schools varied from 7% at the CREC Aerospace Academy to 100% at a number of schools such as HPS Classical Magnet. Roughly 30% of applicants received an acceptance in the first lottery last year. It’s important to remember that there is typically a second lottery and students can come off the wait list as late as September. So this first lottery isn’t the end of the process. (I’ll try to get new numbers for this year’s lottery.)

While there are concerns from parents about not getting into the magnet schools they desired, the locations, the process, and wait lists, I don’t see an overwhelming critique of magnet schools directly. Instead, I see a frustration with why their children can’t attend schools like the magnet schools, which are relatively better-resourced and racially and economically diverse schools. This frustration is, in part, the result of troubled State implementation of this desegregation program. This is a subject that I’ll be exploring in more depth and detail this summer.

Want to share your joy or frustration – or anything in between – about the Hartford-area school choice process? Send me a private message (robert.cotto@trincoll.edu) or comment below.


Parent Responses – Accepted

Parent 1: “I just got great news that (named removed) got accepted to the (name removed) Magnet School for This fall!!! So excited ??”

Parent 2: “(Name removed) got into (school name removed) for (number removed) grade. It was her first choice.”


Parent Responses – Wait Listed

Parent 3: “(Name Removed) got wait listed!”

Parent 4: “I’ve been trying to get my daughter in for 5-6 years she’s been wait listed every year just found out today she’s been wait listed yet again I just don’t understand the process and will she ever have a chance? They say it’s random but I feel like kids from certain areas or with siblings already in get preference.”

Parent 5:

Comment 1: “So disappointed my baby didn’t get into a magnet again this year… Waiting list again!! I guess private school it is…

Comment 2: After seeing these numbers in even more discouraged, not liking this whole lot try business I’ve never been lucky to get anything for free so I guess I’ll start saving to either move out of Hartford and back to West Hartford or pay for private school! ???”

Parent 6: “Hello I am a mother of a student in the hartford school system. He is in the (number removed) grade and he attends school at (school name removed) elementary. I have been trying to get him into a different school for the past three years. I have had no success in getting him into a different school. He is a very smart artistic kid who needs to go to a school that he can expand on his artistic skills and I have been completely unsuccessful in getting him into a school of that type. It is extremely stressful that he can’t get into anything like that. He is having behavioral problems because of this. It’s not fair that I am a resident of hartford and my son can’t get into a school of his choice in the city that he lives in. Also we live on the (cardinal direction removed) end of hartford and he goes to school on the (cardinal direction removed) end of Hartford that is a problem I would rather him go on the (cardinal direction removed) end and I can’t get that either. I’m tried (sic) of this lottery its (sic) a joke and they are treating the parents and children of the city of Hartford unfairly. I have run out of options as far as my son and another school that   He can attend because once again he has not gotten into a school of his choice.”

Parent 7: “School lottery results are in. No choice for Hartford residents. One child still not accepted into her neighborhood school, even though she was #1, one year, & #14 another year. To top off the suspicion of a corrupt so called school lottery, she has neighborhood & sibling preference. Another child applied for every possible choice, Hartford Public Schools, Crec, Suburban school…. Guess what! This child was not accepted in any school, not even his neighborhood school. I understand that most Hartford residents are poor & have little or no education. I understand that this is why we get treated unjustly & people get away with it. We do not have the money or the power to fight this injustice. Right now I write because I am pst about this. There is unlawful activity & corruption going on with this so called school lottery, RSCO”





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Robert Cotto Jr.

Robert Cotto, Jr. is a Lecturer in the Educational Studies department. Before his work at Trinity, he was a Senior Policy Fellow in K-12 Education for CT Voices for Children where he published reports on Connecticut’s testing system, public school choice, and K-12 education data and policy. He taught for seven years as a social studies teacher at the Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies (MLC), an interdistrict magnet school intended to provide a high-quality education and promote racial, ethnic, and economic integration. Born and raised in Connecticut, Mr. Cotto was the first in his family to go to college and he earned his B.A. degree in sociology at Dartmouth College, his Ed.M. at Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and an M.A. in American Studies at Trinity College. He is currently completing his Ph.D. in education policy at the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education. Robert lives with his wife and son in the Forster Heights area of the Southwest neighborhood in Hartford. Views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Trinity College.

One thought on “Hartford-Area Parents Get Results of School Choice Lotteries: Joy and Frustration”

  1. While I understand the goal of the Sheff v. O’Neill case is to desegregate Hartford Public Schools. I find myself struggling with why Black and Brown child have to enter into a lottery that compromises full desegregation for the Hartford Public Schools. At best these lotteries would leave about 75% of Hartford’s children in racially isolated and underfunded schools. The whole point of desegregation is that Black, Brown and Poor public schools are historically underfunded. Inequity and injustice in our public schools should not depend on a lottery of winners and losers. According to the 2015 Quality Counts Education Report 49 states spend more money on their wealthy schools than their poor schools. Should we be telling America’s Black, Brown and Poor parents sending their children to public schools we can’t do help all children. Be patient segregation, equity and justice is a lottery away…
    I invite anyone interested in a serious discussion on equity to attend our TEDxCCSU Salon discussion on June 6, at CCSU from 5:45 to 7:15 in the Connecticut. Salons are interesting and exciting events where the audience and guests engage in interactive discussions around complex topics.
    CCSU is kick for “Equity Now”, salons. These salons will travel to Hartford, Bridgeport, Manchester, Fairfield, New Haven this fall.
    I invited parents, educators and students to attend and share their lottery experiences at our “Equity Now” salons. They are free, open to the public, and refreshments are served as well.
    The June 6 salon quests are
    Hartford Bishop John L. Selders,
    Manchester Rev Josh Pawelek and
    Dr. Helen Koulidobrova
    Their mission is to engage us in those big ideas worth sharing.
    Anyone interested in attending any of the salons can email me Dr. Jesse Turner >turnerj@ccsu.edu< or find go to https://www.facebook.com/events/515799015295095/
    Thank you Robert for shedding light on School Choice.

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