Magnet Schools
4:13 pm
Wed April 27, 2011

City Schools Tell Parents Not To "Gamble" With State Wait List

Tomorrow is the deadline for students who want to accept a placement in one of the state's magnet or choice schools.  But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, a press release from the Hartford Public Schools has apparently rubbed the state the wrong way.

As some Hartford parents consider whether to send their students to state magnet schools or keep them on a wait list, the city's public schools sent this message in a press release: Parents should "avoid the temptation to gamble with their children's future by putting them on a wait list for schools outside of the city after they have already been rejected in a lottery."  According to state education spokesman Tom Murphy, the tone of the press release caused a little concern. "We do understand that there is an intense competition, that Hartford is working hard, but at the same time a more positive marketing message we believe would be appropriate." There is a continuing tension between state and city education officials.  The state, in trying to comply with the Sheff versus O'Neill lawsuit and create diverse educational environments, has built magnet schools that often take Hartford students out of the city.  Meanwhile, the city's schools are working to make it so students won't have to leave to get a good education. "We have been in touch with Hartford officials and we've heard their concerns about retaining numbers of students in Hartford, but they've also heard our concerns that we're working together for the purpose of providing opportunities for families and that we shouldn't be criticizing each other." Here's what Hartford board of education Chairman David MacDonald had to say. "Well I think the press release could have been worded better in terms of not using the words, 'gamble with their children's future.'" MacDonald says it helps the school system to know which schools students want to attend.  He said delaying a decision by staying on a wait list only complicates things. The city's schools didn't respond to a request for comment.  For WNPR, I'm Jeff Cohen.