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Musings of a First Time NOLA Mom: Who’s ready to choose a New Orleans school? Not this NOLA mama…

Written by  LaTesha Gonzales
Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in Musings of a First Time NOLA Mom are mine (mine = LaTesha Gonzales). Join me on my journey of raising a child IntheNOLA.
 
It seems a little silly that even though Gabriel is only two years old, I find myself dreading having to choose a school for him to attend, particularly since it feels like there's about 5 schools in the whole city to consider (an obvious exaggeration, but that certainly how it feels).
 
As a proud product of the New Orleans public school system (McDonogh #39 Elementary School, McMain Magnet High School, and NOCCA), I always figured that my children would also attend public school. However, I find myself somewhat frustrated with the whole process and I haven’t even put in one application!
Let’s find out why.

The daycare that Gabriel is currently in, Winn’s Discovery Center, is fantastic. When he arrives, he’s ready to go with his teachers with open arms and when it’s time to go, he’s crying because he’s not ready to leave. I couldn’t ask for a better place for him to be for the majority of his day.
 
But let’s be real: Daycare is not free, but public school is (sorta, kinda). Even though I love Winn’s Discovery Center, our bank account would be grateful for one less expense. So I began looking into Pre-K programs a few weeks ago. Now, in order to apply to most public schools, you have to complete the OneApp, which allows you to list your preferred schools. However, schools like Audubon Charter School, Edward Hynes Charter School, and Lusher Charter School, all of which are highly rated and in high demand, have their own separate application to fill out. After you've filled out the OneApp and/or the separate applications for the other schools, you wait to see which one you get placed into. But remember, there is more demand than supply for the top schools.

Edward Hynes Charter School on Harrison Ave. in Lakeview caught my eye pretty early since it offers both Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 programs, it's just a few minutes away from our Gentilly home, and parents highly recommend the school's academic programs. With Gabriel’s birthday falling on September 22 (the cut-off date is September 30), he could possibly start the 2016-2017 school year there. Except...maybe not.
 
Here’s where it gets interesting:
1.) Hynes’ Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 programs are for children who test “gifted.”
2.) To test, you can go through the Orleans Parish School Board or you can pay $450 for a private psychologist to test your child. However, word on the street is that Orleans Parish tends to “fail” more students than private psychologists do.
3.) There are only 15 spots for those “gifted” children and a lottery chooses who gets in.
4.) The programs end at 11:00am everyday with no after-school care.
 
First of all, what the hell am I supposed to do after 11:00am when school ends and yet I still have to be at work? Pay for him to go somewhere? To NOT pay is one of the biggest reasons I want to put to him in school!
 
And $450 for a test to see if he’s “gifted”! So what you’re telling me is that if he doesn’t pass, I’m out $450. If does pass, but his name isn’t chosen in the lottery, I’m out $450. However, if he does pass and his name is chosen, I now get to keep the label of “gifted” and find a way to pick up my child from school at 11:00am. Yeah, I can't do it and I won't do it. Hynes is one of the best in the city, but at what cost does "the best" come?
 
In a NOLA.com | The Times Picayune article entitled ‘We wanted public school’ -- but ... : N.O. schools and gentrification, lawyer Adria Kimbrough, wife of Dillard University president Walter Kimbrough, detailed her frustrations of trying to get her two children into public school as her and her husband believed in and wanted public education for their kids (they actually applied to 14 different public schools in total). Their daughter did not make the lottery for Morris Jeff Community School, Lusher Charter School, or Audubon Charter School (three highly rated public schools) and she was instead assigned to a school with an F-rating. For the Kimbroughs, that school was obviously not a choice for them, and they chose to enroll her in a private school with a starting tuition of $15,000/year until the next school year when she was admitted into Lusher. Their son, however, was not admitted into their top choices and instead attends a private school at $13,500/year.
 
After reading the article about the Kimbroughs, all I could think was, “Damn! So what in the hell are we going to do?!”
 
One this is for sure: I will not get Gabriel tested for gifted, whether it’s free or not. I’m not interested in labeling (or not labeling) him that way. So that means for 2016-2017 school year and quite possibly the year after that, he will remain at Winn’s Discovery Center until he’s ready to start kindergarten.
 
By the time kindergarten rolls around, however, he will most likely not get into Hynes. With the students moving from Pre-K 3 to Pre-K 4, then directly into kindergarten, there won’t be many open spots. Then, we don’t live in the 70124 ZIP code, so that makes our chances of getting in even slimmer. The OneApp allows you to list your top choices, but EVERYBODY wants the same schools, so when they're full, you're placed in the next available one, which could possibly be a low-perfoming school as in the case of the Kimbroughs' daughter being placed in an F-rated school.
 
But all is not lost. There are still a few years in between now and when it’s time for Gabriel to start school. Perhaps the schools will have gotten better and there will be more to choose from so that the whole of New Orleans isn't trying to squeeze into five schools. I have faith even though people tend to laugh at my optimism.
 
As I've said before, at the end of the day, I want to believe in and support the public school system, but will I? Or will I do as the Kimbroughs have done if we don't "win" the school lottery?
 
Gimme a few years to get back to you on that…

See LaTesha's previous post:
Thanks to the baby for the high blood pressure

I kept Gabriel alive for a whole year! 
The reality of post-partum depression
Babies and boobies
An epidural saved my life. 
See LaTesha's previous posts:
There’s no turning back now!
Why couldn’t we just lay an egg?
I'm doing it ALL natural...
After 8 months, I finally bought maternity clothes.
Gabriel is here!
An epidural saved my life. - See more at: http://www.inthenola.com/news/nola-living/item/3979-musings-of-a-first-time-nola-mom-babies-and-boobies#sthash.hsjYRrKr.dpuf

Gabriel is here!
After 8 months, I finally bought maternity clothes.
I'm doing it ALL natural...
Why couldn’t we just lay an egg?
There’s no turning back now!
Last modified on Wednesday, 02 December 2015
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