Admission Lottery Night: Three Quick Stories

Wednesday night was our admissions lottery for all 3 of our MATCH Schools. The newest, called MATCH Community Day, had 475 families apply for 100 spots: 50 in pre-K, 50 in Grade 2. The school opens in September -- if we can, you know, find some amazing early elementary teachers....oh and a building, too.

Three stories.

1. First Story

Bianca Vazquez Toness produced this story for the local public radio station, WBUR. Click to read the text or listen online.

2. Second Story

Charter school lotteries are tricky. On one hand, you want to be transparent and public. The law requires it. You want families to feel free to attend, to literally watch names drawn from a hat. Otherwise some fear that the system may be gamed, maybe "connected" families get in, and their kids don't.

On the other hand, the math is such that most families are disappointed. More end up on the waiting list than admitted. So you don't really want to drag people out of their homes for what could be an unpleasant experience. You explain how you think you're going to build (or already have created) this great school, and then 30 minutes later it's...."Sorry you can't come here."

Each year since we started MATCH in 2000, at least one family literally sits through the drawing of the whole wait list. It's almost like they are paralyzed, even as the wait list numbers hit 201, 202, 203, 204....

There's really not much comforting stuff to say.

Over time, if enough trust could be built between charter and district schools, one could imagine a simultaneous optimized "matching process" like medical residencies have. This would maximize total parent satisfaction. Maybe it could start in a city like New Orleans, where most public schools are charter anyway.

3. Third Story

One of our volunteers, a Boston University undergrad named Emily Wu, sent this note along:

One of the parents I was translating for mentioned their frustration with their son (entering into the 2nd grade) not being able to make much progress with learning English at his current school.

The child was a little embarrassed by this remark, so I shared an experience I had at his age.

My first memory of 'school' as a first grader and barely speaking any English was how shockingly strange the daily routine of the pledge of allegiance was! It took me by absolute surprise, like being caught in the middle of a flash mob. The first few months I just stood there moving my lips along with no sound but eventually I joined in.

I could see his eyes shine as he quickly turned to his parents to confirm I was telling the truth "Yes, yes, that's what they do every morning! I pledge of allegiance something, something America." It was so adorable and heart-warming to have been able to see the connection forming in his eyes. To have been able to give him a bit of encouragement at that moment of time was priceless.

So on behalf children like yours, 20 years from now, Thank You!

Big props to our crew from Wednesday, including translators like Emily, Giane, Veronica; The Data Team; The Playroom Posse; and a host of others -- and especially Elysa -- and her mom (who took the bus down from Vermont to run our little snack bar*).

*Note to my mom -- you'd be happy, it was all granola bars, like hundreds of 'em.