Lottery or Cherry Picking?

Has anyone looked at the Kindergarten Entrance policy to the Spanish Immersion Program lately?  Entrance to this program (and its 132 slots) is supposed to be a lottery system but check out all the special provisions;

Special Provisions

Applicants with siblings currently enrolled in RSIS and/or the middle school immersion program are enrolled automatically providing the completed application is submitted by the annual application deadline.

In the event that siblings from the same grade apply, only one name is entered into the lottery and if drawn, each of those students is admitted.

The sibling preference provision is terminated when the family moves out of the district boundaries or when the family of children enrolled through the Minnesota Choice is Yours Program moves outside of the qualifying sections of Minneapolis. Children enrolled before the move may remain in the program.

Students enrolled in grade 5 at RSIS are automatically enrolled in the middle school immersion program. Grade 5 RSIS students who leave the immersion program are automatically enrolled in their neighborhood middle school unless an Intra-District Transfer has been approved or the student has been accepted to a Special Program (IBMYP or Pre-AP).

Licensed classroom teachers from RSIS and from the middle school immersion program who demonstrate proficiency in the Spanish language, and who complete and submit an application before the annual application deadline, may have their kindergarten child enrolled automatically.  Students admitted under this provision do not displace other students admitted through the lottery process or students from the wait list.  Children in grades 1-5 are admitted as seats become available providing they have been consecutively enrolled in a Spanish immersion program elsewhere.  This provision will be reviewed every three years.

The information night for RSIS is held shortly after the other district schools’ kindergarten registration night.  An RSIS application form, including an application for the Educational Benefits/Meals*, is available to all families attending the kindergarten registration night, as well as to all families attending the RSIS information night.

  • The RSIS application form is also included in Kindergarten Information and Registration, a district publication provided to all families during the pre-school screening process.
  • The RSIS kindergarten lottery is held shortly after the RSIS information night. This provision will be reviewed every three years.*Form submitted to qualify for free/reduced tuition slots

The number of kindergarten openings at RSIS reserved for students who qualify for the federal lunch subsidy is equal to the number of students included in one section of RSIS kindergarten for the upcoming school year.

  • One-half of these openings are reserved for qualified applicants who reside in the attendance area of Northport and Meadow Lake Elementary Schools* and who qualify for the federal lunch subsidy. Names of applicants not selected under this provision are placed into the general lottery.
  • The number of scholarships awarded for full-day kindergarten at RSIS will be equal to one-half the number of students included in one section of RSIS kindergarten for the upcoming school year.  This provision will be reviewed every three years.*Northport and Meadow Lake Elementary Schools meet the statutory description of racially identifiable schools and are thus named in the district desegregation/integration plan.

Two openings for the kindergarten program are reserved for applicants qualifying for the Minnesota Choice is Yours program. Students admitted under this provision do not displace other students admitted through the lottery process. The openings are eliminated if they do not fill before the second week of school in the fall.  This provision will be reviewed every three years.

Let’s see; there are special privileges for kids of staff, brothers and sisters, free and reduced lunch (of course), and we have an affirmative action provision as well as slots for kids who don’t live here.  So how many “slots” are actually chosen based on a lottery?  Two-thirds?  Half?  Maybe less?  It sounds like we are trying to cherry pick what students go to this school.  Perhaps it is time to end this program, we have enough kids who supposedly can’t speak English let alone Spanish.

8 Responses to “Lottery or Cherry Picking?”

  1. give2attain Says:

    Now work with me here. They just rewrote this last year to proactively increase the diversity in the school because many folks were accusing them of Cherry Picking the white over volunteering middle class non-special ed families. And locking out inactive / uninformed minority familes.

    They moved back the sign up, held more spots for unlucky kids, etc. (ie affirmative action) All to make the school demographics better match those of the district. As requested by many district citizens.

    So, we asked for this. RAS had a big diverse committee do the rewrite to help accomplish it. What exactly would you like them to do differently? Return to the way it was?

    The PROVISION FOR CHILDREN OF IMMERSION CLASSROOM TEACHERS seemed kind of odd to me. It is a pretty nice perk to be ensured your kids can attend the school you teach at. Should help RAS find an retain bi-lingual teachers.

    And the PROVISION FOR SIBLING PREFERENCE and PROVISION FOR SIBLINGS IN THE SAME GRADE seem like winning a bigger CASH prize. You get your name pulled and get a Two fer, Three fer, etc. However it would be a pain having kids in multiple Elementary schools and maybe the siblings can practice together..


  2. 281 Exposed Says:

    I’m not sure I understand….locking out uniformed minority families? What? Uninformed? How hard is it to be informed about eduction options? They are sitting there right on our website (and you can access the internet at the library for free I used to do that so nobody is too poor)! In addition, don’t you get information when your kid gets enrolled? Is that really too much to ask a parent that they actually give a damn about their kids’ education? Unlucky kids? Who are they exactly? Are poor kids (whatever your definition of poor is and we don’t believe the districts stats) all disadvantaged? In the first place, why do we make assumptions about people based on their race or income level? What are we supposed to do….we pay for kids to get a free K-12 education, we bus kids, we pay for their lunches (ah who pays for their lunch when they are home for the summer?). What more do have to do? The schools are supposed to be institutions of learning, not daycare centers, not babysitters, not social engineers, or central planners. Sorry for the ranting but I am just flabbergasted at this. I grew up poor and nobody paid for my lunch and I walked to school and I turned out fine! Now of course that’s just way too burdensome apparently. I know plenty of parents you are not rich but they are not dumb or uninformed or unlucky. You know you can be poor and be a great parent and you can be rich and be a terrible parent.
    I think the point we are trying to make is how many kids get in via the lottery and how many get in via some special reason? What should that percentage be? Maybe we can set a maximum number of slots that can be automatic. Should EVERY kid of immersion classroom teacher be an automatic? Maybe as an alternative we could reserve say 10 slots (pick your number) for the children of staff members and have a lottery for them….again just an idea. We see your point about siblings going to different schools but again we ask the same question; Should everyone be automatic? The vast majority of families have more than one kid. I don’t think it is THAT burdensome to have kids go to different schools. Don’t families have a kid that is in middle school and a kid in high school? That’s not TOO burdensome. Again, though, can’t we have SOME limitation to that? The larger point is that the more special provisions you put in, the less and less it becomes a lottery. Again, sorry for the ranting……but are passionately opposed to the schools doing social engineering.

  3. give2attain Says:

    Personally, I think the RAS Administration and Teachers would love to not be involved in “social engineering”. Imagine how happy they would be if every student came to school academically and behaviorally ready to learn, the parents willing and able to help their kids with the learning skills and homework, the parents holding the student’s accountable for their behaviors and results, the parents supporting the teacher’s efforts, the students in class were fairly stable (ie low mobility), etc, etc, etc. Just think, the teachers could focus nearly exclusively on teaching curriculum… Which is typically why they became a teacher in the first place. (that and Summers off {hahaha})

    Unfortunately for them, too many parents (rich, middle class, poor) are not fulfilling their responsibilities. They either do not know how to or are too busy struggling for a basic life or their dream life. And since the citizen’s decided that someone has to be held accountable for the academic and civil development of all students, the State and Federal governments chose the Public School systems… I mean, how would the citizens, State or Feds hold the individual parents accountable?

    Well, this leaves the Schools in quite a pickle. They have now been made legally responsible for the success of all students. No matter their starting point, role models or support systems. Even though they only have the kids ~1100 hrs of ~8760 hrs in a year, and very few of the most formative hrs during the first 5 yrs.

    I am happy not to have that responsibility without much authority/control.

    Then when RAS sets up a high performing and somewhat exclusive school like RSIS, some citizen’s beat RAS up for making it too demographically different from the others. Therefore RAS makes an effort to increase the diversity and gets beat up from the other side. They are definitely caught in a challenging position.

    As for reducing “social engineering” by the schools, I think it will only happen if the citizens, State and Fed become willing to let kids utterly fail or find someway to hold parents truly accountable. Neither of these seem likely, so I wish the Schools the best of luck in improving our communities and future citizens. With religious institutions on the decline, they seem to be the last line of defense.

    As for the “held spots” for unlucky kids… I personally think they will remain open, even after the improved communications and recruiting efforts. Those families will likely not value what RSIS offers or they will be preoccupied with other problems, therefore they will not enter their names. We will find out in a few months…

  4. numbersguy Says:

    I would like to say that I believe that the policy should be reviewed before next years enrollment to see if any of the “Special Provision” need to be limited. Also, where are the demographics going based on the new incoming students?

    When you make “Special Provision” the APPEARANCE is that some people are getting “Special Treatment”.

    Are students of teachers in other schools within RAS given the same “Special Treatment”? If not, I could say that this policy at RSIS is discriminatory? The same for each of the other “Special Provision”. Was any of this reviewed?

    Many questions on the FAIRNESS ISSUE?!

    Any thoughts?

  5. give2attain Says:

    The Policy and Board Minutes are linked over at G2A. And from what I remember, the task force tried hard to look at the topic from a very broad perspective. The debates were pretty lively.

    What is your preference? No spots held, just a pure lottery for each and every Kindergartener.

    Secondly, should open enrollees be allowed in the lottery?

    Just like every public policy… Some really like it, most are indifferent to it and some really dislike it. Thank heavens for unique and varying opinions.

  6. speedgibson Says:

    Stan Mack’s last edict was full support of one RSI building, but zero support for enough expansion that would alleviate the need for the lottery. It would appear that Sicoli did not change this, just tweak it. But as long as there’s a drawing, there will be unfairness. Personally, I think RSI is an anachronism, mostly just a means of parent placation. The education value is minimal. Dumping it, focusing on all students, seems much more fair to me.

    Being a dirty rotten capitalist, I say, charge for this service, setting the price to hit desired enrollment. Socialism obviously isn’t working here either.

  7. parentthatcares Says:

    I’m finding almost the same thing with Plymouth Middle School. If you open enroll your child in PMS, you have to be on a waiting list. So, we enrolled our daughter in PMS, she is supposed to go to RMS. She is low on the list to get in because I got the app in right away, how wonderful so we thought! Her friend who was way farther back on the list got in right away and she will be bussed to school. (also open enrolled) Why, because she is in the pre AP classes. So, for all the “average kids” who open enroll, get to sit on a waiting list & have there parents drop them off & pick them up. But, if your child is pre AP the school will gladly drive your child to school and bring them home & they will not have to sit on the waiting list. Now how fair is that? Talk about cherry picking, the schools only care about the scores!

  8. 281 Exposed Says:

    Parent that cares,
    Terrific post and thank you for the information on Plymouth Middle School. That system seems VERY unfair. Please keep us informed of any more details on your situation or if you hear of any other cases. Good luck to you and your daughter.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: