The Baltimore County Board of Education needs to restore sibling priority for kindergarten admission to magnet elementary schools. While the intentions of revoking sibling priority may have been good, the impact on Baltimore County families and on the school system itself will be overwhelmingly negative.
The previous Baltimore County Public Schools superintendent revoked sibling priority for kindergarten applications to elementary magnet schools in order to make access to magnet schools more equitable for all families. Under the current policy, beginning in 2015, kindergarten applicants to magnet elementary schools will no longer get priority placement if they have older siblings continuing at the same elementary school.
Eliminating sibling priority is a disaster! It is unworkable! It will decimate the ability of families of multiple children to continue involvement in their children's education by spreading their children out between multiple elementary schools. It creates a nightmare for transportation. It creates uncertainty in planning education.
The first major problem is one of parental involvement. How can a family be expected to volunteer, attend events, and support the PTA of two different elementary schools? It will force parents to become less involved in their children's educations.
The second major problem of revoking sibling priority is that it will cause a logistical imbroglio when it comes to getting children to and from school. As a parent of four young boys, how can I be expected to take them to different schools and pick them up all while maintaining my sanity? BCPS provided transportation is not a full solution: Not all elementary schools start or end at the same time, not all students of magnet schools are eligible for county transportation to their magnet elementary schools.
The third problem is one of undue uncertainty for my family and others like mine. I want to do the best for my children. Will I need to pull my older children out of their school with its familiar teachers and friends in order to keep my family together at my neighborhood school? If I wanted to disrupt my children's education, I could simply move to another jurisdiction or to private schools. The school board needs to act for the good of the school system and restore sibling priority to magnet elementary schools.
The stated goal of the change to sibling priority for elementary magnet schools was "equitable" access to elementary education. While this change created the appearance of fairness, it is unworkable! If, in the name of fairness and equity, BCPS ends up with families having children at multiple elementary schools, the schools will have signed up for decreased parental involvement, increased transportation challenges, and disgruntled families. Is this what we really want?
Tristan White, Owings Mills
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