Reflection on the Jan 26 School Assignment Community Forum

Here is a letter I sent to various Unit 4 Administrators and a Board Member:

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,

The video is a huge hit! It is such a huge improvement over the previous forms of communicating information. It is exciting to see Unit 4 and the FIC moving in this direction.

While several of us were talking after the presentation, several things came up – specifically about getting information online and maybe even making a couple posters:

  1. put edulog online
  2. while #1 is being talked about, I have a google maps + javascript solution that gets pretty darn close
  3. Show people a map with the school district boundaries and the location of each school. Maybe a 4′ x 3′ posterboard and people can insert pushpins (I have done this elsewhere with great success).

Jamar, Orlando and Judy asked for the URLs for my projects. Feel free to share these  with others if you wish (for instance, I cannot locate Michelle Brown’s email address).

Google map + approximate 1.5 mile circles around each school (the javascript for making the circles fade is flaky)
Google map + calculator for distance from your address to EVERY elementary school:

Lastly, I have an online database of the Kindergarten lottery data from 2009 – 2011. Some of it is really technical, but here are two fancy charts derived from the data:
2010 :
2011 :

I would be more than happy to entertain any more questions or comments. In fact, I humbly ask for your thoughts and honest feedback.
Have a most wonderful Friday!

It is rather strange watching the forum unfold. After the video, there were assorted questions on various topics. A couple came in asking about Priority, and then Trevor popped up a slide attempting to explain it better and it went to hell. 🙂 The slides (which I do not yet have) do indeed explain what Proximity is at the basest level, but it does not help explain Priority in the same sentence. Jamar and I were chatting and we both think it would be best just to stop talking about Proximity altogether – it stresses parents out and it provides an unnecessary, unwanted, ungainly level of information at that stage in the game. It is good to have that information available, but not right when people are learning about the assignment process in the first place. Especially when the process is still called “Choice”.

My recommendation for the next forum is to show the video, then dismiss parents with the option of asking anyone questions on their way to the hall where the schools are on display. In my opinion, they need to transition to seeing the schools sooner.

3 Responses to “Reflection on the Jan 26 School Assignment Community Forum”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    Another thought. What if three “community forums” were held at each of the magnet schools. Currently, BTW has the sole distinction of being a magnet school that hosts a community forum for the assignment process. It is my understanding that Stratton has made an informal offer to host as well. I am thinking that holding one at BTW, Stratton and Garden Hills would really show off some cool things happening in Unit 4 and would help encourage more choices for those schools. There were several questions about the magnet program, and the best answer I heard was a brief summary followed by “go and talk to the principals who have so much more to tell you.” 🙂

  2. “What is Controlled Choice?” « A citizen’s blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] have blogged about these Choice Community Forums several times in past years (2010,  Jan 10 2012, Jan 26 2012). I am glad to see some small improvements like the FAQ (“What is Controlled Choice?”) […]

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