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Families Empowered has released new data, which illustrates the scale of Houston’s waitlist problem: more than 30,000 students in Houston were placed on a waitlist for a seat at a high-performing charter school for the 2014/2015 school year.
Families Empowered works directly with the parents who do not win in the lottery and obtain a seat at one of Houston’s three largest charter districts: Harmony Public Schools, KIPP Houston Public Schools and YES Prep Public Schools. The non-profit personally contacts “waitlisted” families each year, to support them in finding alternate school options, which fit their child’s unique needs.
“Through our work with waitlisted families in Houston, we’ve come to appreciate the scale of this problem,” said Colleen Dippel, Founder and Executive Director of Families Empowered. “This data shows us the problem Houston parents are facing: there is growing demand for choice and for high performing schools, but the supply available to families is too low.”
The map released today represents applications for the current 2014/2015 school year. Each map point represents at least one school application, though families that submitted multiple applications or applied for multiple children can only be shown once.
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(Mapping work provided by Jeff Card of Earthvision, LLC)
YOUR OPTIONS ARE DETERMINED BY YOUR ZIP CODE
All students are zoned to a neighborhood school starting in Kindergarten. Parents wishing to make a different choice will have several options to evaluate. (View our Know Your Options page for more information.)
Some school districts allow in-district transfers to other neighborhood schools. Some districts offer specialized magnet school programs, which focus on a educational theme or method (for example, early-college preparation, Montessori education, or STEM-focus). High-aptitude students can apply and test into a Vanguard program, specifically paced for gifted and talented students.
Parents could opt for a public charter school, which is public yet separate from the local school district. Charter schools admit students on an open-enrollment lottery system: if the school receives more applications than there are seats for a given year, all applications will be randomized and drawn from a lottery. Students are not tested, evaluated or ranked based on academics or accomplishments during this process.
Some parents may choose a private school education. Typically, though not exclusively, parochial in theme, private schools generally charge some form of tuition. However, scholarships or financial aid are available in most cases.
Finally, parents can explore online education and home-school options. This option often requires having the financial ability to forgo work to stay at home with your children and is therefore not a viable option for many families.
“Parents need to evaluate all their options,” Dippel said. “The key is getting started early, and applying to at least three schools that meet your needs.”
Learn more about all your options, and view a map of the schools closest to your home, online at www.FamiliesEmpowered.org.
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