I did it. I finally filled out the “eChoices” online application http://echoices.lausd.net/ for both our daughters for their names to be put in a lottery to get into one of the choiciest magnet schools in the district, Community Magnet for the 2013 -2014 school year.  The dealine was only 3 days away and I had over a month to do it, so I obviously didn’t jump right on the task. The reason is that I don’t really want them to get into a magnet school right now. I am doing what is known as the “numbers game.”
I might not have it exactly right because it is darn confusing, but what I understand is that every year for 3 or 4 years, if you apply for a magnet and don’t get accepted, you collect magnet points that boost your chance of getting in the following year.  So to win the game, if this is the way you are playing, you collect points (by not getting accepted to magnet elementary schools) and cash the points in when you actually want to, that is, for middle school.  The gamble is, if your child does get accepted to an elementary school magnet and you don’t take them up on their offer, you lose all your accumulated points.  [Insert audio of loud toilet flushing.]  I mean, how dare you say NO??? I suppose the system is trying to stop parents like me from playing the numbers game, but what else are we supposed to do to keep our options open for middle school?  Of course, we could send them to the magnet elementary school if they got in, and if we do that we get more magnet points towards middle school!  It’s like how celebrities who make loads more money than most of us, are always getting free stuff.  http://www.brassmagazine.com/article/celebrity-perks-free-stuff-rich-and-famous.  In other words, once you are in, you are rewarded by getting to stay in the magnet system all the way through high school.  The whole system is crazy. One friend wrote on her Facebook page that when trying to explain it to a friend in the mid-West, it confirmed the mid-Westerner’s belief that California is like another country.
But people seem to be really happy about their kids’ magnet schools.  Have I mentioned lately to my friends who went this route that I am truely happy for you all?? I am not being sarcastic! You guys might have it made all through high school.  Maybe your kid will have enough points to get into the very well-respected highly academic LACES program that is housed where our local middle school used to be, pushing our assigned neighborhood middle school kind of far away to be considered a neighborhood school.  The grass is always greener on the other side.  We can walk our kids to school now or have a very short rush hour traffic drive to school while you guys are waking your kids up an hour earlier to get them to their bus stop or schlepping them across town to their magnet school.   Maybe all this schlepping is like a retirement investment – put in your hours of driving now and when you need it 10 years from now when you are older and greyer, your kid might be able to ride his or her bike down Fairfax and get to school on their own to the premier magnet high school less than a mile away while you can be relaxing over a cup of coffee and reading your online newspaper before you head out to work yourself?
I am not worried about my 5-year-old getting into the magnet school for next year; she clearly won’t have enough points. But my 3rd grader just might. I chose the hardest one to get into, not because if she gets in, she will have the best, but because it had the lowest probability of acceptance – around 4%.  But, I do know families with kids that did get in for 4th grade. One family took the spot while another flushed their points down the drain because the child just didn’t want to leave our school.
I think I have mentioned that our very strong-opinioned 8 1/2-year-old does not want to leave her friends or her school.  She would go kicking and screaming, if we told her she had too.  So, as the gates of “eChoices” are about to swing shut and until the lottery results come out, I will be praying for everyone who really wants to get into their magnet school of choice to be very lucky and get acceptance letters, and for us to be lucky and get rejections.