Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lyndon school preview - Dec. 11

Finding a parking space near the Lyndon is about as difficult as getting your child into the school. I probably should have just walked. The Lyndon is technically in our walk zone. It really seems farther than a mile as the crow flies. Taking my usual route up to Centre Street, it’s actually a 1.8 mile drive (2.1 miles if you count circling for parking). I’m not about to argue with the walk zone fairies on this point.

I believe that the previous owners of our home actually got their child into the Lyndon, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility for us. But if you look at the lovely Kindergarten Demand Report, it really seems like you might have better luck winning an actual lottery. For every available K1 seat (44), there were 2.4 families who listed the school as their first choice and 6.5 who put the Lyndon in their top three choices. That’s the highest applicants-to-K1-seats ratio in the West Zone, not including the Hernandez, which is city-wide.

So what’s the big deal with this school anyway? Well, they have pretty solid test scores. They offer K1-8, which is in high demand these days. It’s a pilot school, so they have more freedom in curriculum and hiring.

They have a really involved group of parents that does a lot of fund-raising. Last month, we actually went to the first Lyndon Turkey Trot, a short race for children at Billings Field, and had a great time.

The school also has redeveloped playground areas and a gym.

For more details, check out my post from last year's visit.

At first glance, the student body didn’t appear to be all that racially diverse. According to BPS, the study body is actually 52% white, which isn’t monoracial by any means. It just feels whiter than other schools I’ve visited. I guess this is a product of having at least half of the students come from the West Roxbury area.

For parents who are only considering Lyndon or Kilmer (I know you’re out there. I’ve talked to you.), please look at other schools too. I really believe that our schools are only as good as we (i.e., teachers, staff, and parents) make them. For more on this, check out Sandra Tsing Loh’s book, Mother on Fire: A True Motherf%#$@ing Story about Parenting. She’s zany, neurotic, and irreverent, but I found her school choice experience in LA very informative. She was one of the inspirations for this blog.

Ok, stepping off soapbox now.


Not Whitey Bulger said...

Just curious - please define racially diverse. With numbers.

steve@pioneer said...

Not to add to anyone's anxiety, but the "K. Demand Report" only tells half the story. The BPS is notoriously reticent to provide historical data on sibling preference (I have Fall05 data in the link above).

But I can assure you that high demand schools (like the Kilmer and Lyndon) have a significant number of siblings in their K1 lotteries.

So, if you're a parent just starting out, the actual number of available seats in each high demand school is lower than the stated number.

I'd encourage someone to ask about this on the WZPL to see if BPS would produce it.

I've always felt it was a bit unfair to parents to let them believe there were so many available seats at schools like the Kilmer and Lyndon, when they would be better served looking at more alternatives.

Geeky Mama said...

Hi Not Whitey Bulger,

It's sort of hard to put a number on diversity. Here are two examples of schools that do not reflect the diversity of our whole city, in my opinion:

White: 58%
Hispanic: 20%
Black: 10%
Asian: 8%
Other: 3%

Here's another example
Black: 66%
Hispanic: 29%
White: 2%
Asian: 2%

I just noticed that Lyndon's student body happened to be a little fairer skinned than some of the other schools I've seen. That's all.

Geeky Mama said...

Thanks, Steve. That's really useful. Slightly discouraging, but useful.