In an ideal world, your children leave the house in the morning with their backpacks on and walk down the street to school or to the corner of your street and get picked-up by the school bus. That is how it works (almost) everywhere in United States. Everywhere, that is, except in San Francisco, CA.

A number of years back, San Francisco tried to diversify schools by creating an assignment system in order to give disadvantaged children better options. What it did was make a mess out of the system, and now they are trying to take steps to clean it up. In the midst of this mess, middle-income families, like myself, began to flee the city for neighboring counties where you go to the school where you live – as you should!

But we just don’t want to leave – if we don’t have to. So this year I am playing the school lottery game! The most talked about game in the city – if you have a school aged son or daughter.

Big Girl’s birthday falls in late August. In the past, the age cut off was that the child needed to by 5 years old by December 31 of the school year to attend kindergarten. California law has changed the cut off to September 1, which is more closely aligned with private school date (which we don’t make, so private school is not an option this year).

With that said, the cut off date moves back 1 month each year for the next 3 years. So this year, the cut off is November 1. Big Girl makes it! But when Little Girl is old enough to attend kindergarten, she will have to wait an extra year. So my children who I carefully spaced two years apart may be three years apart in school.

The question on whether or not to even send Big Girl to school next year with a late August birthday can fill another blog post – “red shirting” is a hot topic here too. But back to the subject…

In theory, I have a choice – I get to list 7 schools in ranked order that I would like my child to attend. But if the school(s) you select have more requests than seats, a “tie-breaker” policy is used. The policy is:

1. Younger sibling

2. Attend a public pre-Kindergarten program (which is really hard to get into)

3. Live in a low test score area

4. Live in school attendance area

Where you live is a new criteria added this year. We have yet to see the outcome of students going to schools where they live. The major problem is that schools in good neighborhoods often have more requests than seats which leave little or no space for those who live there. Or parents like us, deem our “neighborhood school” not good enough.

So what are we going to do? I brazenly handed in my application with one choice. The staff member asked me if I was sure. I confidently said “yes!”. From there I appreciated her positive thinking as she gave me instructions on how to register – that once I received my placement letter I would go to the school I chose and register.

So keep your fingers crossed! Letters are being mailed March 16 and no one can wait!!!! Oh, and if you don’t get the school you want, you can try your luck two more times.

How does the pubic school assignment system work in your area? Or are the public schools good enough to send your child?

This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Angela Y of San Francisco, California.

Photo credit to misskprimary http://www.flickr.com/photos/misskprimary/1038145678/in/photostream/. This photo has a creative commons attribute license.

Angela Y (USA)

Angela Y. is in her mid-thirties and attempting to raise her two daughters (big girl, R, 3 years; little girl, M, 1 year) with her husband in San Francisco, CA. After spending ten years climbing the corporate ladder, she traded it all in to be a stay-at-home mom! Her perspective of raising a child in the city is definitely different from those who have been city dwellers all their lives, as she grew up in rural Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) surrounded by her extended family. Angela Y. and her husband are on their own on the west coast of the United States — the only family help they receive is when someone comes for a visit. But, the lifestyle in San Francisco is like no other for them, so there, they stay! This exercise conscious mom is easily recognized, especially when she is riding around her husband-built bike with two seats on the back. And, when she’s not hanging out with the girls, you can find Angela Y. in the kitchen. She loves to cook for her family, especially dessert, and then eats some herself when no one is looking! Sneaky, mom!

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