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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.”
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”