Got a school problem? Call the Problem Solver!

June 17, 2010 at 4:01 pm 29 comments

I don’t know why it cracks me up that this family contacted the Tribune’s Problem Solver because a magnet school wouldn’t let both their twins in.  (One got in via the lottery, the other didnt.)  The Problem Solver handles things like ComEd sending you a bill for $20K or a repair place refusing to give your car back.

So I find it funny that these people thought the Problem Solver could call CPS and make things happen.  I also admire their moxie for doing it.  Hey, why not?

They do point out an absurdity in the current system — Magnet schools will allow siblings into the school (only younger, I assume) but this does NOT include a twin!  CPS “defends” itself by saying that they’re still figuring things out so they just put a 1 year policy in place.   But still, if class sizes are really going to rise, wouldn’t it make sense to let twins in first and THEN add other kids?  Wouldn’t it?!?!

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/problemsolver/ct-biz-0617-problem-king-obrien-20100617,0,6874234.column

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Kindergarten – Half vs Full Day at our school Found some money… so what does this mean?

29 Comments Add your own

  • 1. bevdad  |  June 17, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    It’s sad. Also sad that sibs are a priority at Magnets but not at RGC’s. Research shows that giftedness is more likely driven by genes. That said, it would make sense to give added weight to an applicant with sibs at an RGC (and perhaps even more weight if there are multiple sibs).

  • 2. opposite view  |  June 17, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    It would make sense to give added weight to kids who a have a sib at the the RGC, but really it isn’t fair this way either–the top scorer should get their top choice. I would feel badly if my kid was the top scorer but some other kid who had a sibling at the school had first dibs on a spot over my child. A few of my children attended a highly regarded RGC (great program, awesome parent community, seems to be everyone’s top choice these days) but one of my kids did not get in to this program–so after being offered a few other RGC options, we finally decided to let her try one of them out. Yes, I am disappointed it isn’t the program I am familiar with at the school I love, but what are you going to do. I had that same thought at one point–as if I somehow deserved the a spot over someone else–especially since I was a part of the school for such a long time, but then I quickly changed my thinking on this. Some things happen for a reason, I guess.

  • 3. cps mom 5  |  June 18, 2010 at 7:19 am

    I too was shocked someone wrote into problem solver about this. I have twins and this is the story of my life. My twins are separated and there is nothing I can do about it.

  • 4. Rl Julia  |  June 18, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Not to sound too mean but they could send the twins to their neighborhood school together if they really wanted to. Just because this family doesn’t like the choices they’ve been given doesn’t mean that they don’t have choices.

  • 5. sfw  |  June 18, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Does the magnet sibling policy have language that it doesn’t apply to children in the same grade, or length of time that a sibling has to be enrolled to get preference for his or her siblings? If not, it seems to me that the King O’Brian family could have an argument that Mia should be accepted to Sheridan or since she has a sibling, Luna, who was accepted.

  • 6. HPmom  |  June 18, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Hi there,
    I am the one who submitted the issue to the Problem Solver. I really didn’t know what to expect when I did it, and was actually pretty surprised that he wanted to take on the issue. Just some more background: CPS officials never explained why the policy didn’t apply to twins or offer any rationale of any kind to explain the situation. We heard there was a “twins” meeting where they decided to exclude twins from the siblings policy, although I don’t think that meeting has been well publicized.
    I agree, we do have a choice, and we have toured the neighborhood school, and talked to people in the neighborhood about it. We were told that at this school, K is projected to have 50 kids/classroom, so we’d have to weigh that option carefully. For us, it was about addressing a bad policy, and one that has been in place for several years, and since “sibilng preference” only applies to K, it has the potential for keeping twins/multiples separated forever in magnet schools in CPS (unless they get lucky in random lotteries), which doesn’t seem right.
    Thanks for your thoughts above.
    Best,
    Kelly

  • 7. Hawthorne mom  |  June 18, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    50 kids per classroom???!!!! Are you talking about South Loop?

  • 8. Montessori mom  |  June 18, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I am guessing this family lives in Bridgeport. I dont think the SL boundaries go that for south. Bridgeport has many neighborhood schools.

  • 9. SS Mom  |  June 18, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    @Kelly – good for you, it never hurts to ask.

  • 10. andy  |  June 19, 2010 at 9:05 am

    My first thought was to consider the [simple] probabilities. Suppose there are 100 applicants with 10 selected for enrollment. A family with a single applicant has a 10% chance of selection. Same numbers but now two of the applicants are twins. There is a .9% chance that both are selected and a 18.2% chance that one is selected but not the other. That totals to a 19.1% chance that at least one gets picked. If you allow both to enroll when at least one gets picked, that family has increased its chances of both getting enrolled from .9% to 19.1%. The calculations get more complicated once you consider that the lottery actually puts applicants in line and openings are offered to the next person in line until all spots are filled.

  • 11. Worry Wart  |  June 19, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    No one with kids, twins/multiples or otherwise, wants their kids to separated. No doubt, their situation sucks. However, as I stalk my mail carrier, obsessively check my voice mail and repeatedly call the school checking for waitlist movement, I would hate to find out that I could have had a space but someone with quads took my space and the person behind me space and the person behind them space as well. It just gets tricky when you don’t treat applicants as individuals.

  • 12. Worry Wart  |  June 19, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    And to totally contradict myself , I do think that twins/multiples are a unique case and should receive special consideration as CPS moves forward with a permanent policy for sibling preference.

  • 13. SouthLoopMom  |  June 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Kelly – good on you for reaching out. Nice exposure on a poorly-reasoned policy.

  • 14. smp  |  June 20, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    I am in the same situation and happy this got some publicity – because it is crazy that if you have a first grader and a kinder then your kinder is guaranteed admission but not a twin. I have been around and around with OAE about this since the letters came out and basically they said the policy was poorly written and they will try to address it next year. I who would not let my twins preschool split them up will more then likely be placing them into two different elementary schools and hope they fix this by the time first grade comes.

  • 15. Toni  |  June 21, 2010 at 10:14 am

    As someone with twins, but who went through this process a few years back, I know what this family is feeling. Thankfully we did go through this process a few years back when there must have still been common sense behind the policy.
    The twins got in through the lottery in the 1st round, to a good neighborhood school, both were accepted with no intervention needed on our part.
    And then, what must have been the 3rd/4th round (in late May), both got accepted in a “high” ranking magnet school, again with no intervention on our part to anyone.
    We took the high ranking magnet school and in their 2 classes of kindergarten students (60 kids total) that year, their was 3 or 4 sets of twins.

  • 16. Chicago Mama  |  June 21, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Was there a numbers-based sibs policy within CPS before the 2009-2010 application year?

  • 17. TMom  |  June 21, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    The sibling policy is new this year. In prior years the principals had some discretion as to who was accepted into their school and could help families with twins stay together. This year the principals can’t do anything to help anyone.

  • 18. adding thought  |  June 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    My son is going to one of the CPS Montessori schools. I spoke to a mother there at the registration and she said the school let in one twin off the waitlist then when another spot opened up, offered it to the 2nd twin despite being way down on the waitlist. So, I was surprised when I read the trib article. Obviously it isn’t being handled the same by all schools.

  • 19. smp  |  June 22, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    @ Toni – oh how I wish I had your luck! This has been the worse year for twins to apply to K. I was told by principals before the new magnet policy that if one twin got in to call them and they would try to take care of the other one – bad timing this year for twins with the new policy.

  • 20. Toni  |  June 23, 2010 at 11:21 am

    @smp, Yes, we were very lucky or I also like to think that my dear departed grandmother, threw us a gift from heaven. Their school is wonderful and things couldn’t have worked out better.

    Though we have 4 years before we should even be thinking about this, I am already starting to worry about getting them into a high school together. Though I guess when they are older it doesn’t have as much of an impact. I have a friend of a friend that has triplets in the CPS selective high schools. One is at Jones, another at Payton, and I believe the last is either at Young or Northside Prep. Yikes!

    Good Luck with getting your twins into a “good” school together.

  • 21. Another Kelly  |  June 28, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    This has been my worst nightmare for the last year! I have twins entering K this fall, and I was sure we’d end up carting them to separate schools.

    I feel incredibly, amazingly fortunate that my twins got into the same classical school for kindergarten (where there are two sets of twins entering K). And then we got offers from seven different magnet and charter schools who wanted to take both of them. We were floored, and I assumed there must be some hidden twins policy that they weren’t advertising. I guess not! Sounds like we got very lucky indeed this year.

  • 22. Hawthorne mom  |  June 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Kelly,
    Which magnet schools did your twins get into? I think I know you from the neighborhood! Congrats, I am glad you have/had some nice options!

  • 23. YeahRight  |  June 29, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Why should a family who opts to have more kids get double spaces in school and keep other kids out?

    Not fair just because you procreate more. Go to a Catholic school and get your multi-kid discount.

  • 24. Another Kelly  |  July 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    @YeahRight: I didn’t “opt” to have twins–they came as quite a surprise! Why should they be penalized for coming together instead of waiting a year or two like “normal” siblings?

  • 25. SkinnerWestMom  |  July 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    @Another Kelly

    What Classical school will your twins be attending? Congrats! That’s awesome!

  • 26. smp  |  August 12, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    @another kelly – which 7 magnet schools did you get offers for your twins? Were these neighborhood magnet schools? That is incredible luck you have.

  • 27. Another Kelly  |  August 17, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I cast a very wide net when sending out applications — I was simply terrified that we wouldn’t be able to get both kids in the same school, so I applied to schools that weren’t on the top of my preference list because I just didn’t want to close any doors. In all, we applied to 29 schools. My twins were both offered spots at Swift, Solomon, Trumbull, Chappell, Bateman, Irving Park CICS, and Skinner North, which is where we decided to send them. Only one school offered us a slot for one twin but not the other.

  • 28. smp  |  September 7, 2010 at 12:01 am

    @another kelly – awesome luck to get both twins into the same classical school. Tomorrow I will have one twin start at a magnet school and his twin brother returned to a private montessori school last week to complete his kindergarten year. Keeping my fingers crossed for the magnet policy to change in our favor to put them together next year – I can’t do drop off and pick up at two different schools for the next 8 years. Will your twins be in the same class or different classes.

  • 29. Another Kelly  |  September 7, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    @smp: My twins are in different classes. We want them to have the chance to develop as individuals–and we want the teachers and their classmates to see them as individuals, instead of two halves of the same unit. But I’m so incredibly relieved that we’re able to have that experience at the same school. Some of the schools that offered us slots have just one kindergarten class, which was a dealbreaker for us.

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