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Looking for the Best ~ or at least Better!


LaurieStory June 26, 2012

Hi Magnet Mom!
~How cool you are; thanks for being here! I'm not sure if/how you can help because my question is broad and detailed at the same time ...
My son is gifted & going into 7th grade; he's been allowed to go ahead in Math for years so he's now completed HS Algebra I. He's strong academically and in the arts & music. Our rural CA district is hard hit by bad finances & there's many logistical considerations we find unacceptable in his upcoming Jr. High placement. Additionally, I am an independant artist with an MA in Education and have always done special projects with his classes/schools which will no longer be allowed. Long story shorter, I feel called to go elsewhere but feeling lost in the "shopping" process. Would like a great magnet charter school with strong arts ... do you have suggestions of specific schools/places or sites that are particularly good for looking at what's available? Thanks so much!

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MagnetMom June 26, 2012

Hi LaurieStory,

It's tough having a Renaissance kid, huh? I've raised/am raising two. Straight up Math/Science kids? Sure. Artsy types? Easy. Combine the two, and your choices shrink. Throw in your rural district, and that is a tall order.

First of all, I bet you didn't know that at one point, Gifted Education was placed under the banner of Special Education. Sadly for us, parent pressure to take it away from the kids with special needs has actually hampered the ability for families to get the education that their gifted kids need.

No matter how small the district, they are required to find a way to educate your child at the level he needs to be taught. On the other hand, you understand the significant financial constraints that even the biggest districts are straining under.

What is the district telling you in regards to his placement? He's taken Algebra I, so he's on track for Geometry. Will they pay for him to take it online at a virtual school? What about a community college?

I'm not sure from your post if you're suggesting that you want to move, or if you are planning to stay where you are (or even where that is generally). I'd suggest looking at some of the independent study/virtual academies, where your son can take courses at different levels since even the most gifted kids usually are all over the place in different subjects--testing high in some areas, and at grade level in others. California does pay for online "virtual" academies that families meet with a teacher once or twice a week and the rest is handled at home. There are field trips and other activities so the kids are hardly isolated.

If you're planning on moving, remember California is a giant place. You'll want to narrow down where you want to go to, and then you can start looking for what you want. Keep in mind, most charters have an application period in late winter or early spring, so you'll have to wait until next year. And charters are struggling under budget cuts too. They can be a little leaner by seeing trends and responding sooner. But they're not immune from state budget cuts.

First start here: Type in the cities you're interested in, and sort for charters. Read the parent reviews and tour the campus. Ask a ton of questions. See if he can shadow a few classes.

Enough from me. I'm sure you'll have more questions. Good luck, and look forward to hearing from you soon.

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