Hartford, CT – Excitement, anxiety, and curiosity filled the halls of Sport and Medical Sciences Academy on Saturday, February 10, 2018, as parents and their children from across the Hartford region attended the 5th Annual HPS Education Expo. As the deadline to register for the city’s school choice lottery system approaches, parents are trying to determine which school, theme, and curriculum best match their student’s interest and learning styles.
This event showcases one of the direct results from the 1996 Sheff v. O’Neil CT supreme court result and the 1997 legislation, “An Act Enhancing Educational Choices and Opportunities.” In an attempt to ensure voluntary racial integration, suburban parents can now choose from 19 magnet schools, and 9 district open choice schools in the City of Hartford. Local residents have the added option of 17 district and 4 district charter schools for their children.
Those attending had the opportunity to speak with representatives from over 40 schools. Mariana, a Hartford resident, and mother of 5th grader Alex, talked with representatives from Classical Magnet, Capital Preparatory Magnet School, and STEM Magnet at Annie Fisher, to find out more about the specific benefits each could offer her son. She asked about busing options, curriculum, and sports programs available for her child. Although it will be several years before her son is in high school, Mariana is already thinking ahead and trying to make the best choice for her son’s future.
Throughout the morning, Sport and Medical Sciences Academy students led tours of the facility, showing off the school’s state of the art sporting facilities and its many academic resources. Elena, a Hartford resident and current 9th grader at Sport and Medical Sciences Academy, spoke highly of her past 2 years at the school, and confidently answer questions. Technology was the hot topic for parents, who questioned about access to personal laptops, use of computer labs, and Smart Boards. Throughout the tour, parents quietly discussed what Sport and Medical Science Academy had to offer, and how it compared to the other top choices they were considering. Other concerns brought up centered around school tracking, access to honors and AP courses, and college readiness.
Leigh, a suburban mother of 11-year-old Kyle, talked about her son’s goal to obtain a full academic and athletic scholarship to a college. Although the odds of her son receiving a full scholarship are near 0.3%, Leigh knows this school choice expo and lottery application process will be the first step to help her son achieve his dream. Throughout the academy, the college pennants from graduated students hanged in hallways, exciting parents including Leigh.
After speaking with representatives and participating in tours, parents had the option to hear more about the school and application process in a short information session. The buzz parents had was clear, however, the odds most Hartford residents face are not in their favor. As a new round of students are accepted into their dream schools, while an even greater percentage of Hartford residents are left out of the magnet and charter school game, questions will rise once again about how fair this current open choice system is.
The deadline to sign up for the RSCO Magnet School lottery is February 29th, and the Hartford District Choice lottery has recently been extended until March 31st. Click here to apply online. To see which schools are near or in your district, click here.