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Letter: Parents Left Out In Magnet Rule Change

The PTA president at Cromwell Valley says the rule change was a poor decision.

Unless the Baltimore County Board of Education reverses itself, as of the 2015-16 school year, siblings of elementary magnet school children will not be automatically admitted to the school with their older brother or sister.

The revised rule (as of Apr. 7) states that "kindergarten priority placements will no longer be granted beginning with the 2015-2016 school year" (see Article VI.A.1).

This means, if you have a child at a magnet school and your younger child is not admitted via random lottery, you will be forced to either take your older child out of the school they've attended in previous years or send your elementary age children to two separate schools.

Information regarding consideration of the repeal should have been disseminated, prior to the decision, to all school communities potentially affected by it. This situation is another example of the school system making important policy changes without ensuring that proper communication, consideration of various perspectives, and deliberation have occurred.

Tom Irwin Jr.
PTA President-elect

Towson, MD

April June 08, 2012 at 12:22 PM
I was very happy to see there is now a petition to repeal this decision. I drive an hour to get my child to school because, like so many others, we do not live in an area that provides bus service. If my daughter will not be allowed in through sibling priorty placement, there is no way my son will be able to continue in the program. This will be especially hard on single parents and those that live far away like we do.
April June 08, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Children that get into magnet schools at the elementary level are not chosen for being "gifted"- it is a random lottery that decides who will attend. Also, many students do not get bussed in. I drive an hour to get my son to his magnet school everyday.
April June 08, 2012 at 12:30 PM
What is disturbing is your obvious hostility to a situation that you don't seem to have much experience with. I bet you would have a different tone if your child were in one of these schools.
April June 08, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Children within the school district should be allowed in without a lottery process. This is currently the case, and is another mistake this rule change is making. Towson schools are overcrowed, but that is not just the fault of the magnet system. Real estate developement in Towson over the past few years is booming because more people want to send their children to those schools. I think the overcrowding issue is bound to get worse as more people move into the area. This rule change will may litlle to no impact on that situation.
CC June 08, 2012 at 12:46 PM
If you are against the sibling priority change, sign the petition: https://www.change.org/petitions/baltimore-county-public-schools-revise-rule-6400-for-sibling-priority-placement-2?utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition#
CC June 08, 2012 at 12:53 PM
As a correction to your mis-statement, student that are outside of the surrounding area of the school do not get bused in. Parents were made aware of this and were given the decision to enroll their child knowing they would have to drive them there. Like April, I made the decision and sacrifice to drive my child. However, this was under the BCPS guarantee that my younger child will get in. If this rule is not revised, I may have to either pull my child out of the magnet program due to distance, or figure out a way to get both my children to school and picked up from school in two different areas. Having them in the same school will alleviate this issue.
Amy June 08, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Lily, My father graduated from Towson High School in 1961 with over 700 students in his class. I graduated almost 30 years later with approx. 320 students in my class. In the early 70's there were something like 700 students at Riderwood Elementary (before any addition), yet by 1979 the County had to close nearby Ruxton Elementary (now the Ridge School and West Towson) due to a drastic DROP in population. The population of Every community will fluctuate over time and the County has to have more flexibility with it's schools in order to accommodate the fluctuation. You preach as though you are an expert on population, but you don't seem to know much about the population in Towson. For the record, there has been very little new construction in Towson (keep in mind that Towson is only 2 zip codes- 21204 & 21286) in the last 20 years. I can only think of 2 new neighborhoods that were built off of Old Court Road in Ruxton, one of which is only a few homes. This overcrowding affects the entire CENTRAL AREA, and the way it is handled will affect the whole County.
CC June 08, 2012 at 01:12 PM
For many parents I don't think it is a sense of entitlement. This was a guarantee by BCPS and they have since gone against that. I'm sure many parents will make whatever sacrifices and changes they need to make to get their children will they need to. However, this is about what was promised to parents. If they want to get rid of sibling priority fine, but any students that are currently enrolled should be grandfathered in.
Amy June 08, 2012 at 01:40 PM
So CC, as long as you're taken care of than you're okay with the rule change?
Amy June 08, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Lily- Your comment that PTA Mom thinks that her tax money should only be used in Towson is completely ignorant. Did you even read what she said? She was actually complaining about the tax money that has been spent on possibly unnecessary additions.
carey June 08, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Just one parent getting involved is not enough. That's what makes magnet schools so great- high levels of parent involvement. If you want to take over a school- take Loch Raven Elementary- that school is not even being used. I bet you wouldn't want you're kids going there! Talk about a "sense of self-entitlement". I am so glad my kid did not get into magnet school when I applied. I think the county should deal with overcrowding by creating a mandatory exchange program. Students who ride the bus in overcrowded schools will have to alternate attendance at other county schools. That would be a true practice in diversity. Although, I'm not sure if I would want your snobby kids influencing mine.
April June 08, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Two new neighborhoods? Are you not counting the numerous apartments and condo's that have been built in the last five years? Here are a few: The Quarter, Somerset at Towson, The Palisades, Fairways at Towson, Towson Promenade. I am sure there are more. There hasn't been much new home construction because not everyone can afford to buy a house in Towson, but thanks to these places a lot more people can afford to live there. The reason your schools are overcrowded is not because of the magnet program, it is because people want to live in your neighborhood and send their children to your schools. If you have a problem with overcrowing maybe you should move or send your children to private school. That is what you are suggesting that the rest of us do, right?
CC June 08, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Amy, I'm not looking to get into a debate with or any other parent regarding this topic. My issue is not with you. It's not a matter of me being taken care. It is matter of what BCPS promised when I enrolled my child in the magnet program and them upholding that promise to not only ME & MY CHILD but all of the parents that enrolled their children in the program. If they want to make that change for incoming students, that is fine, but they should not change it for students that are currently enrolled in the program. Families have made life changes and decisions based on this and not everyone has the means to pick up and move, or shuffle their kids all over the county, but I guess that is their problem too.
Lily June 08, 2012 at 05:07 PM
My "obvious hostility" is only my quite natural reaction to an attitude which doesn't seem to be able to understand that attending Towson schools is a privilege in and of itself. It's a privilege that I would be happy to have even if my child had to take some classes in a trailer. I'll tell you what how about if your child trades places with a child at halstead. Then your child won't have to be in a trailer and the halstead child I'm sure won't complain at all about being crowded at Towson. I'm just amazed that there is such a lack of appreciation for what you already have that you're going to hate on a program because you don't have their buildings at your disposal. You don't really care about the sibling rule at all, it's just being used as a way to undermine the whole program because you want it gone so you can have those two buildings. What's more you have no shame about this elitism.
Amy June 08, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Actually, I had forgotten about those new buildings. Probably because I doubt there are more than a few (if any) families with small children living there. They are not exactly low income housing. But now that you mention it, I did know a family who lived there temporarily when they moved to the area. The kids went to Hampton. I never suggested that anyone move. But if the involved parents that send their kids to magnet schools focused all their energy on their home schools then I think they can make them as excellent as any other school. Parent involvement is the reason that the Central Area schools are so good. And I think ALL children deserve to go to a school that is not overcrowded.
Lily June 08, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Yeah I understand it. My point is that it's a matter of perspective if you think the renovation money is unnecessary. Micro perspective: That CVE is close to Towson and the money spent on Hampton is unnecessary. Macro perspective: That CVE provides a value to the magnet program and the magnet program provides a value to the county education system as a whole that makes the expense of expanding Hampton worth it. My point about taxes was an observation that I've made is that when people have this attitude about their taxes they quickly forget the Macro view and start to think in only Micro terms. Baltimore county school system is a Macro system not a Micro one and that is why Towson has no legitimate right to the property of CVE or Lutherville regardless of it's geographical proximity to Towson. However I've notice that because of the activism necessary to deal with overcrowding and the politics that where unfortunately necessary to get it done that people are becoming divided along micro lines into factions. If we really wanted to play this smart we could all get what we want here but as long as we are being devided into factions then we all look unreasonable. Really what we should be going after is the stop overcrowding group should help the magnet keep it's sibling rules and the sibliing rules group should help lobby for building and renovation. Then both groups could fight for a hybrid elected appointed board...
Lily June 08, 2012 at 06:01 PM
or we could just rip each out apart in the streets... until people are afraid to let us vote anyone in for fear Towson will take over the elections process. If we want the right to vote we need to show the county legislature that we would know how to manage equitably. It doesn't have to be a zero sum game.
Lily June 08, 2012 at 06:06 PM
I think most people would agree that wealthier people are in a better position to move than people who are not. Not everyone has the options you so obviously take for granted.
Lily June 08, 2012 at 06:11 PM
...or have a little patience that it takes time to build buildings and make renovations and that it will eventually all get worked out and we don't need to attack the magnet program via the priority placement rules in order for that to happen. If you all knew this was coming down the pike so long ago why did you wait to politically organize until your kids where in school. It seems to me that you're community dropped the ball here in a way that has nothing to do with the magnet program but you want to take something that doesn't belong to you as a quick fix because building takes a little time.
Lily June 08, 2012 at 06:33 PM
The population in Towson has increased 14% since 1990 and 9% since 2000. That's 7,890 people since 1990 more than half of which has been in the last ten years. What that means is that in that last ten years the population has increased significantly more than it increased in the prior ten years. It has certainly not "stayed the same" as it was 30 years ago. I suspect it is also increasing as we speak. http://www.americantowns.com/md/towson/info/population
Lily June 08, 2012 at 06:45 PM
There are also about 1700 vacant dwellings in Towson so there's room for even more people. What you all should be doing is lobbying the zoning authority that regulates builders to deny any new building in Towson until the school capacity is large enough to handle it... other counties in the state do it. I've said it before and I'll say it again. This is a "sustainability" issue not a "fairness in the magnet admissions process" issue. http://www.americantowns.com/md/towson/info/housing
April June 08, 2012 at 06:54 PM
There are more than just a handful of people that have children in those new developements. I drive through there often and see many children entering/ exiting school busses at those buildings. As I am sure you are well aware, and as I read in another post, it takes more than one or two involved parents to change the quality of a school. You are right about all children deserving to go to a school that is not overcrowded, but that is a issue you have with the people responsible for zoning changes that allowed so much population growth in such a short time due to new developement in your area. Even with sibling priority removed it will not help your situation. If anything, your argument against magnet schools could actually read as an argument for more magnet schools. The program obviously works because the schools are doing very well. They also do away with overcrowding issues by limiting the number of students that can be enrolled. Furthermore, magnet schools allow parents and teachers that want to be involved to do so along with many others like them. If there were more magnet schools to choose from across the county, there would not be so many people applying to the same area. This means more people get to choose their childs school if they want to put in the extra effort and less impact on neighborhoods that offer magnet programs. If there were more magnet schools created than there would be more room at those schools for children that live in those districts.
Lily June 08, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Parkville by comparison has decreased in population by 2% since 1990 steadily at the same rate: http://www.americantowns.com/md/parkville/info/population For a neighboring town to have such a difference it begs a few questions about why. The answer is school quality.
Lily June 08, 2012 at 07:12 PM
April that's brilliant! Let's do that! Let's expand the magnet program! We can solve overcrowding and provide for diversity at the same time and let's keep the priority placement rules for siblings and walkers at the same time! Everyone would be happy. Think of it... no more magnet wait lists. Everyone who wants to go can.
PTAmom June 08, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Lily, CVE should be turned back to a neighborhood school. It served its purpose and now it's time for it to be given back to its immediate community.
Lily June 08, 2012 at 07:26 PM
You sound like a parrot. Other than that statement can you back up your opinion with anything remotely like a reason that is based on anything besides your geographical elitism and sense that anything within your reach should be yours? What you are suggesting is never going to happen.
April June 08, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Expanding the magnet program seems to be a logical conclusion based on how successful it has been. Fighting over "who" Cromwell belongs to really sounds like a preschool student throwing a tantrum because the barbies in the toy bin belong to her. Magnet schools are community property because all of Baltimore County is paying for them.
Lily June 08, 2012 at 08:28 PM
... it's worse than that. She doesn't want the "barbies" she wants the "bin" unfortunately the "bin" just so happens to be bolted to the floor of a house that doesn't belong to her. We're even building her new "bins" but she doesn't want to wait for construction. She would rather just take someone else's "bin" and throw away the "barbies" that actually belong to many different people as well. Unfortunately she doesn't understand that this "bin" is actually a complex network of "bins" which provide more than just "barbies" and undermining this "bin" would undermine the whole network. Patience is a virtue my dear. Actually though at this point I think she just want's to win the argument. Having lost through reason she hopes to win through stomping because we've provided for her every objection and she's completely unreasonable. I submit that even if there where no overcrowding she would still object to CVE and the magnet program because some people just don't really like diversity all that much, particularly if it's in their own backyard.
Amy June 08, 2012 at 09:39 PM
PTA Mom- Reason doesn't work with everyone. I agree with you and I'm sure that the vast majority of the County does too. I think our work here is done, since the discussion has been reduced to nonsense.
Tyler Waldman June 13, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Hey everyone, We just posted a follow-up on this issue: http://towson.patch.com/articles/marks-asks-school-system-to-revisit-magnet-rule-change

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