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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Many parents shut out of their school choice



back2school.jpgOur friends over at the Gradebook blog have the raw numbers behind the eye-opening story by our colleague Rebecca Catalanello showing how few parents get the choice they want in schools in Pinellas County. It also shows again the popularity of fundamental schools in Pinellas, which mandate contractual parental involvement, disciplinary standards and homework.

I recognized myself a bit when the assistant principal at Osceola Fundamental High said he has been giving more and more tours to parents of elementary school students.  The reason: If you want a spot at the popular high school, get in the pipeline early or get shut out.  I will admit I already had our middle school and high school options in mind when we got our kids into their fundamental elementary school.

Looking at this year's magnet application period, half the families who applied landed their first choice. But another 43 percent of the students didn't get invited anywhere. The word "lottery" comes up a lot.

A lot of parents are using this as evidence that the school district needs more fundamental schools.

But the numbers show School Board member Janet Clark that the problem is bigger than priority and rankings.  "I don't think it's actually a fair system," Clark said. "Until all of our schools are good schools our fundamentals are going to have that attraction, they're going to have that cachet."

What do you think parents, is this problem fixable?

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Monday, March 5, 2012 8:14am]


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