Just to reiterate, the title of this series is not meant to condescend at all. Rather, it is a look from the ground-up about this mystifying registration process. And actually, I could almost conclude this post with the simple statement that Registration has become overly complex for no good reason.
What if Registration was merely putting schools (all 11 of them) in order of preference, with the distinct and clear explanation that if they do not get into one school, the computer will try the next one. No mention of proximity, no mention of priority, no mention “choice”. I would chop off the last “R” from Review, Rank and Request. Or combine them into one. They see all 11 schools, look at them on a map, see a summary of what each school has to offer, maybe see pictures, have a chance to visit them, go to a display like the ones at the current community forums…. they do whatever review satisfies them, than fill out a sheet that orders all the schools (online, on a smartphone, at the FIC, or just call somebody up). If they want to see more data, then you can open up the can of worms and unload. But until they get to that point, Keep It Simple, Silly.
In light of keeping it simple, I would actually urge for one exception on the Administrative side; put as much online as possible. Put Edulog (the program that displays how far the bus goes from the pickup nearest your house to any said school) online. Generate maps so people can see their house in relation to the schools.
One further thing; actually simplify the algorithms behind student/school assignment. I contend we do not need the services of EnrollEdu (Dr. Alves) – the 3rd-party neutrality he represents is boiled down to a computer. We have lots of computers here. What he uses for “fair” and “equitable” Low SES calculations, while with good intent, are inherently flawed because they make assumptions. For the sake of discussion, I publicly wonder if merely using “free/reduced lunch” status is enough of a consideration. If you think I am being callous or have no regard for others not like myself, then let’s talk – I want to hear from you.
While I do want to delve deeper on that last topic, I digress from my main point. Make Registration as painless and as user-friendly as possible. Do this by:
- get rid of keywords like “proximity”, “priority” and “choice”; encourage parents to put all 11 schools in some sort of order
- continue on the path with helpful videos; generate maps and a brochure that quickly summarizes all schools
- put stuff online (ie, edulog or whatever replacement comes down the pike)
- emphasize that all the schools are really good – the Magnet program is a great start, but have to show how not everything revolves around AYP to help bolster “underchosen” schools (and don’t use that word 🙂 )
That last point may be the most important. I think we might make much ado about relative molehills. While I have a lot of constructive criticism for the Administration, my one suggestion to parents is to take a chill pill. Yes, definitely choosing the right school is a huge deal and a big responsibility. I am on the same page – I have been there. But it ain’t the end of the world. If you are unhappy with a school, then transfer. Or better yet, get involved and work for change. 🙂 What an awesome role-model for your little one. And you know what’s really cool? Parents are already doing that! I love it.