So today is November 3rd. We’ve now been on two tours, which ironically weren’t even really for magnet schools, and last night we attended the Middle School Magnet Night at Sepulveda. Thanks to previous commitments, my daughter and I arrived 10 minutes late and circumnavigated several blocks in North Hills before parking on Sepulveda, completely missing the “orientation” part of the program, which my husband (who’d arrived with plenty of time and found parking in the same zip code as the school) assured me I’d missed nothing. Since I give similar magnet presentations to various groups in my area, I’ll take his word for it. Let’s face it, with kids 10 years apart, there’s a certain nostalgia with these types of school events, and even with the distance in time, there’s still an aspect of dread.

There are still parents who have no idea how the program works, and clearly have never read the brochure. There are still parents who try to corner the magnet coordinators and spend way too much time giving way too much information about their specific situation, while the rest of the group just sits uncomfortably. But it’s not just the parents lacking social graces. In one presentation, I listened to one magnet coordinator of a very popular magnet encourage parents with no points to apply even though he had 2-300 kids on his wait list at each grade level. I’m not Math major, but even at four wait-list points per year, the child would graduate middle school and still be no closer to attending that magnet. And another Math/Science magnet coordinator try to throw other highly regarded magnets under the proverbial bus–using an apples to oranges comparison of the API scores of entire schools to compare their programs. The nicest thing I can say is it was just tacky. Promote your programs, bring out students and parents, and encourage tours. Don’t say we’re better than school x because they’re not that good–especially when they ARE that good.

But among the presentations, we hit two great ones–one my husband and I had already toured, and one my son graduated from in 2004. My 10 year old has never even hinted she had any interest in it before last night, but we agreed to put our meager 8 points into that basket and see what happens. We’ll apply to the other via SAS and a variety of academies and hope for the best.

Batting .500 for the evening’s presentations is better than our odds at either of the schools, but in the meantime, we’ll see. With the new application being online only, there’s a definite feeling that applications will go down. A post card arrived last week to herald the new system only to be lacking the obvious logo of LAUSD, so most I’ve talked to only knew of it from a robo-call. Without the brochure mailed out, no one really knows if applications will be up from ease of use or down from lack of information. We’ll see.

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