Dear Chicago Public Schools: Applying to kindergarten shouldn't make me cry

The application process to enter Chicago Public School (CPS) kindergarten classes continues to wreak havoc on my simple brain.

Let me break it down for you.

1. First, I complained about the backwardness of  CPS’ application process.

2. Next, I proved myself to be a GIANT HYPOCRITE by  participating in said system (i.e., applied to 20 schools outside of our neighborhood boundaries.)

3. I then hoped, prayed and assumed that things would work out. They have to work out, because, well, I don’t know. I choose hope?

4. Joke is on me!  Two weeks ago, after stalking the mail lady, I received a letter from CPS informing us that:

– EK is on the waitlist for all 20 schools.
– Our position on the waitlist ranges from 2 (I can live with that though some schools never even touch the list) to over 600
– I am an idealistic jerkwad. (I  read between the lines on this one)

lets make a deal5. After months of promising myself I wouldn’t cry if things didn’t go my way, I broke down like a big old baby. Transitioning to Kindergarten is a big step for an entire family. Add to it the fact that we will likely receive “offer calls” well into the first three weeks of school, and I feel like we are playing “Let’s Make a Deal”.

I’ll take what’s behind door #2!

I am faithful that things will shake out, but this ambiguity is akin to hell for a Type-A gal.

Now for the big picture.

To a CPS-newbie, this process seems painful and unecessary. Is it impossible to draw school attendance boundaries to ensure that we include a diverse population of families? Aren’t we perpetuating a system that promotes an unhealthy obsession with getting kids into “good” schools (which means what, exactly?) and competition between families (and students). And in doing so, centralizing resources within a tiny number of schools while the others underperform and give Mayor Rahm reason to shutter their doors?

And what about the families who don’t have time to engage in such shenanigans or afford private schools? Well they are just screwed, I guess.

Instead of improving our neighborhood schools, we are driving/busing our kids across the city.

Last year, I met a student who spends an hour-and-a-half commuting to/from one of the city’s top-ranked high schools, Lane Tech. This poor soul’s daily commute translates to 15 hours a week, approx 540 hours a school year (or 22 days – DAYS!) spent getting to and from school. That’s a part-time job, sport, study sessions, or internship for many kids outside of CPS.

But silver linings do exist! Recently two neighborhood high schools made the news by announcing collaborative efforts to improve the perception of non-selective enrollment schools. Our neighborhood high school school may follow suit and I am eager to join the effort.

However, here we sit today, on 20 waiting lists and playing the “options for knowledge” placement game.  I’m emailing principals like a wild-eyed beast-mom and visiting schools to ensure that if offered a spot, we can make an educated decision.

Some lucky principals are even on the receiving end of random 80s moving references.

Thanks so much – and I think Mikey from Goonies said it best when he yelled, “Goonies never say die” – which in this case means we aren’t giving up! My second favorite quote is “They’ve got grape – grape!” (Chunk) but that doesn’t really seem relevant in this context.

Maybe I look like a fool, but I’m going with my gut. That’s really all we can do, right?

Like this? Read these and like Swirleytime on Facebook:

– The CPS kindergarten application process makes me want to put my head through a wall

I love that my kid lacks a filter

Why I love my son’s preschool teachers

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    Annie Swingen

    Chicago-based hyperbole enthusiast. Mom to a kid and sometimes my mom. Overboard (1987) obsessed weirdo. I like the funnies in life.

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