Parents, post your public school question as a COMMENT below. We’ll post an answer in 24 hours. It helps if you include:

1) First name and birthdate of your child
2) What grade of school you’re seeking
3) What part of Los Angeles you’re in
4) What your local public school is
5) Extenuating circumstances that may apply?



  1. 1.

    Magnet Yentas, I need your help. I have a 12-year-old stepson, let’s call him Sensitive Flower, who’s attending OCS in Venice, a Waldorf-ish school that ends with 8th grade. The academic curriculum is, er, loose. Lots of building teepees and making stuff with clay and doing your best. He may end up at Venice High. His main concern in life, in general, is that he not get stuck among older kids who think that everything is “gay” (in the dorky sense of the word)– having close friends is gay, still liking Pokemon is gay, etc. He spends 3 days a week with us in Eagle Rock, 4 days with his mom in Venice.

    I also have a 2-year-old, let’s call her Bunny. Annandale Elementary would be her kindergarten. Right now she’s at a Presbyterian daycare in La Crescenta, mostly because it’s low-key and friendly and her 2-year-old cousin is in her class and also loves it. Bunny is very flexible at the moment, but I’d like to find a closer preschool for her, possibly one where they don’t sing about Jesus and serve powdered doughnuts and juice as a snack.

    • My son Chioki 6/14/01 (8 yr old) looking to transition from private catholic school to economic (aka tuition free) school near us. We live on the border of Highland Park/El Sereno 90042
      Public schools are Bushnell Way, El Sereno Elem or Huntington Dr Elem

      I found Arroyo Secco Science Museum Magnet. I realize I won’t be able to get him in anywhere decent for this year (3rd grade) but I want to be ready for when application session opens in Dec.

      I called ASSMM & was advised there is no testing/placement for this magnet. Not a problem because he is top of the class in reading and math.

      Do I qualify for a good amount of magnet points? I looked online to see their capacity is around 500 and they have 700 (?) on a waiting list?? Is this true? Does this make sense?

      I need help on how to get him into a good public school!! Thanks

      Single Mom in need of help.

      • Hi Eileen, You’re a little outside my area of expertise, so hopefully some area moms weigh in. What I can tell you is how the points system works. He’s going to get 4 points if his neighborhood school is overcrowded. That’s not likely, unless it’s a 3-track yearround school, but it’s worth asking. He’ll receive 4 points if the school is PHBAO (predominantly hispanic, black, asian or other). The other points come from languishing on those dreaded waiting lists for up to three years (for a total of 12 points. If he had a sibling already at the school, he’d score another 3. The grand total for the magnet motherload is 23.

        There’s another caution, most magnets have the majority of their openings in the first year of their enrollment. Because ASSMM is a K-8 span, it’s likely they bring in more kids at a higher grade, but you’ll need to prepare yourself if there are only 5 spots for the grade he’ll be in next year. It’s entirely possible that the wait list is that long, as the school is well regarded and it includes middle school, which most parents fear the most.

        I’ve included a list of schools closest to Bushnell ranked by their GreatSchools rating here.

        But before you absolutely panic about what’s a good school or not, go visit the school you’re zoned for. Ratings are based solely on test scores, and in a multilingual community like LA, scores aren’t everything. You might find a school with a “6” or even a “5” with a great PTA, an eager principal, and fantabulous teachers. You’ve already said your son is bright, so he very well may be able to thrive in a school without a “9” or a “10”.

        Good luck!

    • Ok option #2. I found out I work in an AWESOME school district, Torrance (angels singing). I called TUSD & they advised me to go in person to LAUSD to apply for interdistrict permit but under NO circumstances ask for a PERT (parent employment request). She also advised if I say it’s for child care (which I will obtain if he attends a Torrance school) the LAUSD will ask for proof.

      Catch 22 – I won’t get child care proof until I enroll him in Torrance, I won’t get into Torrance until LAUSD releases him.

      He is in a private school now so LAUSD is not losing anything by releasing him.

      What do I tell LAUSD in order for them to grant the Interdistrict permit??

    • Hi.
      A.. I really love to see my daughters scores on last years cst’s. Why haven’t we received them? When will we see them?
      B. I’d like to know your opinion for the best performing arts, high achieving, Charter schools in west hollywood-west la, and studio city-sherman oaks.
      Thanks so much

      • Hi, Dina.

        I’d love to see my daughter’s results, too. There was a snafu with the testing (they had reason to believe a high school student posted actual test questions. When that was proven to be false, they went ahead).

        School results were published the last day of August, and the district is using an outside mailing house to send the results. With 600,000 results, it takes some time and the results were being mailed out from the end of August through the middle of September.

        As for charter, which grades? Charter only?

  2. | |

    Dear Heather (which we believe is itself the name of a Sensitive Flower),

    Re: Sensitive 12 year old stepson, we hear you.

    Two approaches:

    1) Big school, small pocket.

    For the record, sensitive teens we personally know have thriven at such big LAUSD high schools as:

    Hamilton High Humanities Magnet
    Marshall High (there’s a gifted guru there, if gifted is your bent)
    North Hollywood High (zoo magnet)

    There are many more options–these just give you an idea. Although we’re anxious about flinging you to the LAUSD, consider visiting its annual Magnet Faire (in December) to learn more.

    2) The Sensitive Flower Performing Arts Charter approach. Consider:

    CHAMPS Charter High for the Performing Arts (
    Renaissance Arts Academy (*

    * On the web, the Renaissance Arts Academy looks like such a great fit for you (and it’s IN Eagle Rock–kismet!) it’s eerie. We don’t know anyone personally who has gone through Renaissance, so our recommendation is based only on the website, but. . . look at it! Doesn’t it look cool?

  3. And Part Two, Heather, re: a potential new preschool for the admittedly-contented (but they have such a short memory at two anyway!) Bunny, down-to-earth sectarian mom friends have really liked:

    Our Children’s Place (a very reasonably-priced and friendly co-op)
    502-3009 in area code 818

    And. . . are you excited? Conveniently located right there in

    Westminster Child Center
    (323) 256-8086

    Have heard zero complaints re: singing about Jesus or powdered doughnuts used a food group.

  4. Thanks for your response! I need to look into those magnets. I have wondered about Ren Arts but there’s a part of me that feels like Sensitive Flower shouldn’t ONLY mingle with other Sensitive Flowers, know what I mean? Then what, you go to RISD or Pomona or Berkeley School of Music in Boston and make brilliant paper clip sculptures and eat mushrooms while listening to Philip Glass and finally, when you graduate, you… get eaten alive by the hot-tempered vampires and bloodthirsty wolves and gay-bludgeoning frat boys of the real world, just like you would’ve back in high school, only you’ve been embraced by your brethren for so long that you’re ill equipped to bounce back after this shock and say, get a job.

    Plus, isn’t there something sort of important about going through the mainstream high school circus, replete with prom and football thugs and such, so you can reject it all in an informed manner? Where would Holden Caulfield be without those snotty jackasses and fakers to react against? I’ll tell you where, living on an isolated farm in New England, writing nothing, and hating humankind like JD Salinger does.

    All of which goes to show you how much projection and myth goes into these decisions. Lucky for Sensitive Flower, I’m just his stepmother and won’t be charged with making the final call on his future! Stepmothers are good for throwing out ideas, pledging money to support various plans, and then shutting the hell up.

  5. Sherman Oaks area (91423), Van Nuys school.
    My daughter is 3.5 years old and currently attending 2nd year of preschool (loves school and does well). She will be going to Kindergarten in fall 2010. We live in Sherman Oaks (Riverside and Hazeltine) but will be going to Chandler elementary and Van Nuys MS and HS. We know Kester Magnet is good, but what’s the chance of getting in except we are Asian American. Any good suggestion on other elementary schools that are academically focused and affordable? She’s relatively advanced and can do “kindergaten” workbook, but don’t know if she will do well on placement test.

  6. Parade: My son will start 1st grade at Kester magnet next month (Kester is our neighborhood school, too, and he completed kindergarten there last year). As you may already know, Kester’s (gifted) magnet school starts with 1st grade, not kindergarten. What you may not know is that there is only one 1st grade magnet classroom there, making the odds of getting in steeper. Unlike say, Balboa Gifted Magnet, which is all magnet students (also starting in 1st grade), Kester’s magnet school shares the campus with the neighborhood school. There are no placement tests for kids this age, only teacher certification that they are gifted. See the Choices brochure for more on that. Placement tests come later, by second grade, I think. I only know of one Magnet school that starts in kindergarten: Valley Alternative, about which the Magnet Yenta/Sandra can tell you much more. Good luck.

  7. Greetings, Sherman Oaks Neighbor!

    GAME PLAN #1: Winning your daughter a Fall 2011 opening for Kester Magnet (grades 1-5) or, if you wish, Balboa Gifted Magnet (grades 1-5, farther away, tougher odds). Note that many academically focused families also like Vintage Math/Science Magnet (also much farther for you).

    a) In Dec. 2009/Jan. 2010, apply to an LAUSD magnet school–which starts in kindergarten–for which you have a low likelihood of getting in (i.e. Valley Alternative Magnet). The good news: Chandler should yield no more than 4 magnet points (PHBAO), meaning your daughter will PROBABLY not be offered a spot, resulting in four (4) waiting list points to improve your point count for the following year. Your minority (Asian-American) status should not greatly affect this outcome.

    b) In Fall 2010 (when your daughter has just entered kindergarten at Chandler), common wisdom suggests “gently” asking your daughter’s kindergarten teacher to write a gifted recommendation to support her magnet application to first grade at Kester. Writing your Dec. 2010/Jan. 2011 magnet application, now you’ll have 8 points (4 from Chandler, 4 for one year of waiting). . . Not bad, fingers crossed!

    GAME PLAN #2: Winning your daughter a Fall 2014 opening for Sherman Oaks CES (grades 4-12, Reseda). (If Kester doesn’t work out.)

    a) In Dec. 2010/Jan. 2011, apply to an LAUSD magnet school–which starts in FIRST GRADE or lower–for which you have a low likelihood of getting in (i.e. Valley Alternative Magnet, although now you use Balboa Gifted if you wish).

    b) Repeat this process every year for two more years (for a total of three years, thus accruing the maximum number of waiting points–12). Applying in Dec. 2013/Jan. 2014 for 4th grade for Sherman Oaks CES, you should have 12 waiting list points plus 4 from Chandler, 16 points total, that’s informally considered a shoe-in.

    GAME PLAN #3: Stay at Chandler, use Walter Reed Gifted for middle school.
    a) Stay at Chandler, see if your daughter tests gifted in second grade (reading well is important), and send her over to the Walter Reed Gifted program in middle school. No magnet points needed at all.

    GAME PLAN #4: Stay put, use the excellent magnets at Van Nuys High.

    a) It’s even possible to go through Chandler Elementary, Van Nuys Middle School and get into one of the great magnets at Van Nuys High School (odds tend to be much easier than at the elementary magnets) and still go on to any number of top U.S. colleges (Ivy Leagues, etc.).

    You have many excellent options, in the meantime, in preschool, your little girl is allowed to have fun and throw clay!

    Have a great day!

  8. Kester. My home for Kindergarten with Miss Borad a very long time ago. Sandra and Kester Dad have given you great advice, my suggestion for asking for the recommendation will be at the parent conferences that inevitably occur in November. It’s a natural time to bring it up, and far enough in to the year that the teacher will be able to gauge it.

    As you get closer to kindergarten, keep your ears open because magnets come and go in popularity. Personally, I’m not worried as much about popularity as I am about “fit,” but you’ll hear more current info as you go along. I know when my son was younger, Vena (in Arleta) was considered well regarded in the East Valley by other teachers as it was the school where gifted teachers went to learn before going to other schools.

  9. My husband and I are stuck on the wrong side of the street! We live in Studio City 91602 and our home school is Rio Vista. I have a 4 year old daughter who currently goes to Christian Nursery School and loves it. She is very brigt, articulate and is starting to read. Our preference would be Colfax or Carpenter where her classmates are going but as I said we live on the wrong side of the street. Can you give me any insight on Rio Vista? Or is there a magnet or charter close? I have heard about Kester but understand it is hard to get in. Any advice would help.

  10. Re: Rio Vista, funny you should ask! I attended an Open House with a friend who has a preschooler in May. We loved it (this is a friend who thought the only option was private).

    The test scores are very solid, having risen a great deal over the past 3 years (I haven’t seen this in years). The ethnic mix has turned around a great deal, also. It used to be a majority of ELL (English Language Learners), but that has changed quite a bit. A lot more neighborhood kids.

    There are TWO SAS kindergarten classes. The campus is lovely and has a SECRET GARDEN! in the cute little park next door. They HARVEST the food and kids get to eat. They have the full range of arts programs, music, etc. Wonder of Reading library. I talked at length with a fairly new special ed teacher (they have I think one or two autism day classes) who said she loved the school and didn’t want to move anywhere else.

    On the website, you can link to the PTA, and I remember getting a quick and helpful response from the PTA prez some time back. I would call the school and find out if there is an event in the fall to attend, or later on.

    – Ann

  11. Dear Stacy,

    No no no–your husband and you are not stuck on the wrong side of the street, the RIGHT side of the 91602 is where YOU are (repeat mantra, deep breathing, feel the love)! Be that as it may, we are fully sympathetic to the feeling that the whole preschool “parade” will be marching on to Colfax or Carpenter next year and yours will the One Child Left Behind. You could try open enrollment in Spring (around April/May) 2009 for Colfax and Carpenter (good luck with that!) or turn in a magnet application this Dec./Jan. for Valley Alternative to build up points for Kester, which starts in first grade. (Read Comments #6-#9 above for full explanation–Rio Vista, like Chandler, is most likely to be just a four-point school, so odds are dicey, if possible.)

    But it seems like Rio Vista is a very nice school (secret garden!). . . When our first child started school at Valley Alternative, we too didn’t know Person #1. . . A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met. . . And it sounds like your bright, articulate daughter will have no trouble making friends. And if she turns out to be <> gifted, you have a lot of options you can work right there from kindergarten at Rio Vista. (Again, re-read Comments #6-#9 to get the lay of the land.)

    Deep breathing, Stacy, we think you’re in a very good place. . . !

    All best,

  12. Thank you so much Yenta’s and PTA Theresa, I am now excited to give the school another chance and if all else fails we will apply to Valley Alternative and start building up pts!

    Any other we love Rio Vista stories are welcome 🙂

  13. I have 3 perfectly precious offspring who will be attending public Pre-K this year, (hallelujah SRLDP in LAUSD) We live in the Culver City zip code with LAUSD services. Our home school is the wretched Stoner Ave. Any tips on attaining the coveted admission to the very close and very attractive El Marino in Culver City? My kids are already practicing their Japanese and Spanish.

  14. Dear JCMM,

    Dang! Even though we’re so, so charmed at the image of your Pre-K angels practicing their Japanese and their Spanish, the short answer is: no. Permitting into a whole other school district (Culver City) is a dicey proposition, but we’ve put out some feelers for you. We’ll report back if we find anything.

    The longer answer is: we notice you’re near the Westchester group of schools, particularly Cowan, but as that waitlist has now become horribly long, Kelly Kane of WPEF suggests a good neighborhood school worth a shot at entry is Kentwood.

    At the very least, you do have some time.

    Cowed enough to begin practicing our own language immersion,
    The Yentas

  15. Ok I am a LAUSD teacher and I don’t know how to help myself. My son attended our neighborhood school which is less than stellar. I was trying to get him into SOCES so I played the magnet game that so many of us play. You know the one apply to a school that you know he won’t get into. Well unfortunately he got in!!! It’s a great school but very far from our house and the kicker is that they have given us a bus stop that is 10 miles form our house. If I don’t send him I lose my points and all my hard work. If I do, my life is hell for the next 3 years!!!! HELP!!!

  16. Dear Jeanine,

    OMG. What a high-class problem! How bad is the transportation issue? Where do you live? What school were you hoping to get your son into? How truly bad is your neighborhood school?

    Inquiring minds want to know,
    The Yentas

  17. Hi Jeanine,

    Sandra and I (and legions of others) are eager to help, just give us a few more details.

    Ten miles is far, but depending on your schedule as a teacher, it might be workable (at the very least predictable–since at least you’ll be working the days he goes to school). And anyone with kids in SOCES will tell you life isn’t hell, so give us a little more info and let’s see what we can work through.

  18. I’m wondering if you can tell us anything about the high school in VAMS.
    We are considering it for our daughter.

  19. Hi Shirley,

    It’s tricky but technically a few spots could open for ninth grade. The school enrollment K-12 is only 575 kids total, so the high school is small. VAS high school has NO AP classes, but students can take many classes for college credit at Valley College. VAS is good for those who want a small family feeling, and don’t necessarily need a state award winning football team. Small schools definitely have sports and compete in small school intramurals, but sports fluctuation is far more wild depending on # of kids enrolling.

  20. Shirley,

    VAMS is definitely a school you’ll want to check out thoroughly, and ask before you apply. When we went on the tour several years back for my daughter, they said they had openings in kindergarten, and then for higher grades only had openings if someone moved. By the time high school comes around, the 60 or so kindergarteners have turned into a class of 30 or so per grade level, leaving to pursue team sports or more class offerings.

    But there are definitely smaller private schools so that kind of atmosphere might be the place your child will thrive. Definitely go visit, talk to people, and see if it’s something your family would appreciate.

    As for the difference between AP and taking college classes, my son and I leaned toward college courses. But your mileage may vary.


  21. Dear Magnet Yentas,
    Please help! We are a military family and our neighborhood is Crescent Heights Elementary 90035. We can see Canfield Elementary, how can we attend, as we are on the wrong side of Robertson. I have a son entering the 3rd grade this year and honestly, I have tried very hard to keep him out of sagging pants and an affinity for rap music, but that seems to be what is flourishing at Crescent Heights. Help! I know scores are not everything, but… they do mean something don’t they? What can you suggest? My husband is now a contracted worker at the VA on Wilshire and could take our son to school in that area which has better school scores. I called Kenter Canyon and they said they are closed to students who live outside of the area. I thought charter schools were open admission. Please help…

  22. Lauren,

    This answer comes from several parents, since many Magnet Yentas are seemingly taking one last vacation before school starts next week.

    Crescent Heights gets a bad rap. They have an excellent principal, impressive A.P., and caring, enthusiastic teachers. Have you actually toured the campus? Crescent Heights is a magnet in social justice, too.

    Please don’t judge a school by the sagginess of their pants. As Yenta Angel will tell you 13 years of living in the East Valley, the only time her son’s pants ever drooped was when he joined the water polo team and dropped 30 pounds in less than three months. Saggy pants aren’t exactly contagious.

    We have it on a good hunch that if you plug your address into School Finder (, you will most likely find the OPTION of attending Carthay as a school with no permit necessary, as the “opt out” for those not interested in a social justice magnet.

    Regarding charters, remember there are two kinds. The charters which converted from “normal schools” such as Kenter Charter, Canyon Charter in Rustic Canyon, Westwood Charter, etc., have different rules than start up charters. Schools that convert are still required to serve their surrounding neighborhood kids first. Only if there is room can someone from outside boundaries get in. And that might be the case at Kenter.

    Since school starts next week, you might decide to try a campus for this year, and see if it grows on you. When the time for admissions for each of the programs occurs, you can apply to several different programs and see what happens.

    The Magnet Yentas

  23. Hi Yentas! ( thank you so much for your kind response)
    Ok so this is what I did. The 10 mile thing was not going to work because I am an itinerant arts teacher ( different school every day working for the ARTS Branch of LAUSD) and also a single mom…..( I know I know don’t even ask I also have a 20 month old as well as my 10 year old and 8 year old that I was referring you guys to ) So anyway the 8 year old is also high functioning autistic ( asbergers) and when I really started to think about a 2 hour bus drive for him ( from our home in Tujunga to Brentwood which is the school that he got into) I really started to have second thoughts about his happiness. I got him a space at Sunland elementary school. Sorrry for the verbosity but this is a long story. The reason we left our neighborhood school is because my children are of mixed race and were called the “N” word on numerous occasions and to me that is a deal breaker. Now however, an even better school has called ( saying they may have a space for him in our neighborhood) and I am thinking about being a total LAUSD “hoe” and dropping the other school after one day if the better school gives him a space. To be clear SOCES is where I WANTED him to go and what I was accumulating points for not the school he got into( he was accepted to Brentwood science magnet). He is a third grader. Am I awful for switching him after the first day of school??!!!

  24. Hi Janine,
    I’m practically next door in San Fernando and my son went to Verdugo Hills High School, so I feel like we’re practically neighbors! 🙂

    I don’t think I realized it was a 10 mile trek to the bus stop and then a bus ride after that. I’d be hard-pressed to encourage that kind of a commute for any kid. If you’re in at Sunland, and now another school has called (Apperson?), go physically check it out. They’ll want you to make your decision over the phone, but tell them you need to see it first. Go Tuesday, while the teachers are setting up. Plenty of people have moved their kids after a day or two when other schools call. In fact, some parents actually have the nerves of steel to wait for it.

    Weigh your options and then make your decision. What do they say, measure twice and cut once? You won’t wont to move your child with special needs a second time if another school calls next week (and they might). So you will be saying “goodbye” to SOCES, but if he’s happier and healthier, and not taking a 2-hour bus ride (and SOCES would be longer than an hour, too, trust me), it will be well worth it in the end.

    And while you’re at it, make sure you’re paying attention to the magnet at Verdugo as your kids get older. It ROCKS.

  25. Angel…You are an Angel!!! I love Verdugo as well, believe it or not I taught painting there this summer to a wonderful group of kids. ( summer school) I loved it !!! Thank you for all the great advice you are truly sweet, neighbor!

  26. Hi Magnet Yentas, thanks for this great service!
    My daughter is 4 years old and is starting pre-K at a local parochial. However for Kindergarten, I’d like her to go to a good public school, with emphasis on arts and music (since I am not able to provide her any guidance in those areas).
    I live just west of downtown and using School finder, the only K school is White Place, which I have visited and let’s say, is not inspiring. What other options do I have.

  27. Hello Magnet Yentas.
    I am an LAUSD teacher and never thought I’d have this much difficulty picking and getting into an appropriate school for my daughter. She will be starting Kinder next week. Our home school is gledhill and I decided not to send her there. We did apply for Valley alt and didn’t get in like I hoped so we should have 8 priority points since gledhill is PHBAO. Here’s my dilemma. She is enrolled at chime charter in woodland hills and is set to start Tuesday. We are #1 on the childcare permit waiting list for Van Gogh and may be called at the end of the week. Do I switch her to van gogh if we get called? If I do, with a childcare permit does that guarantee her to stay till 5th and how about her brothers, I have two sons that will be following and would like them all at the same school. Or do I keep her at chime with the idea that she will eventually get into a magnet school (ie balboa, kester, welby way or even SOCES in 4th) In the choices application, do we identify top 3 choices or do you apply for just one and if you don’t get in, tough luck? Help please, I’ve had many many sleepless night trying to do what’s best for my daughter.

  28. Wow, Rania, so many questions. Let’s wait on the first one, because the answer is going to be “it depends.”

    The second question: Do child care permits allow you to stay until 5th grade? Not necessarily. If the school has room they renew them, and it’s rare they don’t, but they don’t have to. And while siblings get priority on child care permits at schools I’m familiar with, they do not *have* to, and if for some reason, a large influx of neighborhood kids come in or LAUSD changes the boundaries or as they’re threatening to remove the trailers at most schools by 2010-ish, there is a chance your daughter could be at Van Gogh and your sons not be able to get in, or that there comes a time your daughter can’t return either.

    If you keep her at Chime, remember that Balboa, Kester, and Welby Way are gifted magnets and have special criteria. Also check which years they actually have openings, because Balboa has essentially 60 in 1st, 60 in 2nd, and 30 in 3rd, and getting in after that is difficult (based on attrition). SOCES doesn’t require special criteria, but their openings are primarily in 4th grade. You’ll have to check with the other schools, and make sure you don’t miss your window by applying after the bulk of the openings occur.

    In the CHOICES brochure you only pick one choice, and you get in or you get wait points. After the letters go out, you can call to get on the waiting lists of other schools, at the bottom after the parents who applied and did not get in. Other magnets in that specific area might contact you to let you know of openings.

    So whether you wait to see if you get into Van Gogh or you stay at Chime sort of depends on how you feel, and what you think will let you sleep better at night. The offices at Van Gogh should be open Tuesday if you want to call and see how they think it’s going.

    Good luck, and if you need any more clarification, let me know and I’ll try to explain more.

  29. OK, let my question/comment bring down a firestorm if it has to, but I think (I hope) I’m not alone in my situation. I have a son due in a couple of months — that’s right, I don’t even technically have a kid yet — and I’m already stressing out about schools because I’m on the verge of purchasing a house. The house is in Echo Park (local elementary is Elysian Heights Elementary) and I’m wondering, what are my school options going to be? I know it’s years away, but once I buy a house I’m not planning to move for at least 10 years. How is Elysian Heights Elementary? What are nearby magnets that people recommend, and how would I prepare to get into them? How about preschools? I’m Asian and my husband is white, so do we get to choose whether to have our child be “officially” white or Asian? Which is more advantageous? I know I’m being crazy, but hey, I am pregnant and more than a little scared.

  30. Hi Cleo,

    And congratulations on your soon-to-be son! I’ll let others in your area handle the magnet specifics, but to answer the race question (which I always dreaded), your child can be either, but you’ll have to choose one for magnet purposes. Even if you hit the “Multi” box, you still have to declare what one of the “multi” is. My kids are Hispanic/white, and I use Hispanic, but depending on the school you’re applying to, it can be advantageous to be one or the other. Schools use either a 60-40 or 70-30 ratio of minority to white and while it’s creepy to some (including me when I had to do it) and annoying to those who can’t choose which box, you are in your right. You can also switch which box you check later, which is only fair if you can only declare one now, you should be able to “represent” for the other side somewhere down the road. I’m sure someone from LAUSD can give a more PC answer, but after 12 years of filling in the boxes, sometimes letting off a little steam in the form of bad humor is needed.

    Again, this comes with a lot of soul-searching and a lot of discussion when the kid(s) get older, but LAUSD makes the rules, we just have to play the game.

  31. Comment #27, another two cents. . .

    Have been out of town and wireless-impaired for a few days, I’m going to chime in, albeit belatedly, with my two cents’ worth!

    Re: Comment #27, I’d say no worries switching into a new school at the last minute (even by the first day!). It’s Los Angeles, it’s the 21st century, it’s a weird and wacky world–the rules have changed a bit in terms of how parents find schools (which is why we have this blog!), last-minute switching happens a lot. For the record, even at Valley Alternative, oh how many kids could have gotten in if they were willing to join as late as the second week of school starting! So we call flexibility a good thing, and a boon for parents who need any help they can get!

  32. Re: Comment #34. . .

    Relax, Echo Park mother, relax!!! Stressing that hard is not good for the baby (in whatever physical or metaphysical form that baby may currently be in)! And since LA neighborhoods can change radically in as little as 2-3 years, stressing about schools five, 10, 15 years ahead is like meditating on a sand dune!

    Here’s my LA school counter-philosophy. Go ahead and buy the house that appeals to you in the neighborhood you can afford, and a quasi-like-minded neighborhood will eventually follow. When we moved to Van Nuys (in–was it?–1991?), I had no friends here. Over the next decade plus, other folks moved here who needed a little land and a little space and couldn’t afford Melrose. (Some bohemian neighbors of ours have funny tales about trying to find parties in Beechwood(sp?) Canyon. . . “Dude! I’d love to have come to your party but we’ve been trying to find parking for two hours! Sorry, dude! Going home!”)

    YOU CANNOT CONTROL OR PREDICT THE FUTURE, MOTHER-TO-BE! Let go, let go. . . That kind of rabid missionless stress you’re in is bad for yourself, your community, and your city.

    Echo Park teems with incredibly interesting families (You’re not in Kansas, any more) and, as noted on the Echo Park page on this weblog, we hear there’s some activist activity at Elysian Heights, and if that’s so now, by the time your kid’s in kindergarten you’ll be golden (same for middle school!).

  33. Re: Comment #26, Lauren, contemplating Crescent Heights. . .

    You might check out some of the mom contacts on our Mid-Wilshire/Miracle Mile page. . . Good friends, good people, might have some extra local fresh tips for you as we veer into the school year. . .

    Good luck, Lauren!


  34. Dear Magnet Yenta,
    I am a recent transfer to North Hollywood from Dallas, Texas. I have a daughter who is 13, and in the 8th grade. We are of Irish Heritage and she is very blonde. According to my address, she is supposed to attend Sun Valley Middle School, which is predominately hispanic, making my daughter stand out like a sore thumb. On the first day of school, Sept 3, she was sexually harrassed and racially slandered all day long, as well as physically threatened. When I picked her up, she was in tears and is very afraid to go back. I am not from the area, let alone the state, and I am unsure what my options are. We are not rich, but my daughter is a good student and great kid, and I don’t want her to be terrified to attend to school. I am desperate so please respond ASAP.

  35. Dear Bree,

    Argh! Yikes! And. . . welcome to L.A. Not to mention middle school. The worst.

    But first: DEEP BREATHS!!! (You made it through labor (presumably!), you can make it through this. And let us be your birth coach doulahs.)

    More information will be coming to you through the weekend (we’ve got emergency calls out on your behalf), but the first hit of opinionated Magnet Yenta advice appears to be:

    1) You do not have to keep taking your daughter to school (and no one will go on record SAYING it, but it may give you a better leg to stand on to keep her OUT of school). In the meantime, initial options include:

    2) Taking your daughter over to your Local District #2 office at Lankershim and Magnolia (exact address will be on, explaining the situation, demanding a transfer to a smaller high school (Sun Valley is notoriously large, one of LAUSD’s biggest). Your school board member is Julie Korenstein.

    3) A charter middle school may also be a good option. Note that we’re not talking about a massive change in demographics (LA Unified itself is largely Hispanic), but small middle schools have more person-to-person contact so you won’t feel as much as though your daughter is being dumped into the howling void. A number to call is Jackie Elliott (818) 327 9190, at Lakeview Charter Academy (and other charters). . .

    More North Hollywood charter tips just in (these were recently trolling for students–we don’t necessarily know why, but we do know there MAY be openings, so worth checking out):

    North Valley Charter
    Magnolia Science Charter

    4) Or you might simply go to the charter school website (, check “Top 5 FAQ’s re: Magnets”) and start trolling through and calling.
    5) Often we would suggest considering sticking it out at the school and finding a helpful counselor or similar, but the middle school you’re at is indeed very BIG.
    6) One more tip just in. . . District 1, though more West Valley-ish, may have even more charters than District 2 (call the LAUSD general number, which you can find through information, phone tree should take you through districts). School board member in our part of town is the fabulous Tamar Galatzan, friend of the Yentas.
    Keep us posted. . .

    The Yentas

  36. Know that sadly, junior high is horrible for everyone, and if it weren’t for her blondeness, it could have been for her height, her weight, her pick in music, or a million other things (and that’s just the girls picking on each other). Being sexually harrassed brings this to a whole new level.

    Going slightly east of your location, you can check Mt. Gleason middle school. It fed into my son’s high school and has a very diverse population. The reviews I’m reading are decidedly mixed but you need to see with your eyes what’s going on. I know there’s a charter or independent study academy further up on Sunland, too (might be in Glendale Unified, but it’s just beyond Tujunga).

    I’ve been on the campus of North Valley Academy and they’re right on Rinaldi not far from the 405, so that wouldn’t be a drive either. You’d be going against traffic, so that’s a plus.

    The trick is to do as much phoning as possible as quickly as possible, and get her into something safe for this year, and we can do oodles more legwork for next semester or next year.

    I agree with talking to the District 2 office, and if you don’t like what you hear, call the district 1 office. There is a LOT of movement going on this week and next as schools reach their “norm” to realize how many teachers they’ll actually need.

    Good luck, and let us know how it’s going. Feel free to ask more questions and I’ll check back this weekend to try to help more.


  37. I was looking at Brentwood Science Magnet for my daughter next year for 1st grade. What is the best strategy for getting her in on 1st try? Are there any other decent magnet schools with a better chance she would get in within 5 miles of the West Side? How do I figure out what the % accepted/applied is for white and non-white categories so I know what to put down (seems like a problem they should posing to the kids at Brentwood Science Magnet.)?

    1) Ivy,01/16/03, Poppy 04/30/05
    2) 1st Grade
    3) West LA/Mar Vista
    4) Richland Elementary
    5) Mexican/White/Asian Mix, not yet assessed, but has obvious potential to be in Gate


    Parents, post your public school question as a COMMENT below. We’ll post an answer in 24 hours. It helps if you include:

    1) First name and birthdate of your child
    2) What grade of school you’re seeking
    3) What part of Los Angeles you’re in
    4) What your local public school is
    5) Extenuating circumstances that may apply?

  38. Hi Ben,

    I’m not Westside, so perhaps another Yenta can take on those neighborly specifics, but you will have to call the school on Monday to find out the what’s better to put down to get in the first try. Specifically, you’ll want to know if they admit only in kindergarten or if they also admit in first grade. If they get a little skittish on the bold questions (as in “What’s better to put down, white, Hispanic, or Asian?”), the way to ask is “How many points did it take to typically get in as a first grader?” and even “On the waiting list, were there any groups you exhausted the waiting list on?”

    I’m not sure how many points a Richland school student would rate, so again, perhaps a Westside Yenta can help you with that. The lower the number to get in (and from the waiting list), the better. If you hear 8, 12 or more, you’re in for a challenge. Their website says they are still taking people for the waiting list for 2008-09, so you might want to explore that option too. The longer people go into the first month, the more likely they’ll say turn down the spot and eventually get to you.

    Sometimes it’s easier to schedule an appointment and talk to a magnet coordinator in person, so your interest looks genuine.

  39. Another *help* comment for Bree at Sunland Middle School, another Yenta sent the following over the transom:


    Magnets may be the best bet because of the location issues.

    The parent also needs to consider a work related permit which says
    that a child through the 8th grade is entitled to attend the school
    in the attendance area where one of the parents works as if that were
    their residence area. In a two parent family, both parents are
    supposed to work full time. This is a child care provision. The one
    proviso is that the school needs to have an available seat.

    On the attached list, the charters below should be considered.

    The best for your particular circumstance, would probably be Chime,
    Ivy, Magnolia Science and Renaissance but all may be too far.

    The others to consider are:

    Community Charter
    Excel Academy
    James Jordan
    North Valley

  40. Dear Ben,

    In hindsight, ideally you would have applied LAST Dec./Jan. to a magnet school with kindergarten openings (such as the vaunted Community Magnet, K-5) to accumulate 4 waiting list points to give you a bump when applying for First Grade. However, to peruse their birthdates, it appears what you did not do for Ivy you will still be able to do for Poppy (ah, those lucky second children!).

    A glance at, Richland School, demographics suggests that it is single-track and PHBAO, suggesting it will yield 4 magnet points. For first grade, that’s okay but not fantastic. On the upside, last year’s CHOICES brochure says Brentwood ES had 309 openings, 881 applications. . . Meaning chances for a spot are, mathematicians? About 1 in 3! Not the worst. We smell a hint of possibility, for the persistant parent.
    In the slightly longer run, your clever child may well test gifted in second grade, then you can start lobbying for real. . .

    Good luck, Ivy and Poppy!!!


  41. Hi Ben, (comment #42)
    I’m the Westside Yenta, or so I’ve been called. Brentwood Science Magnet starts in 1st grade and is not as competitive to get into as Community Magnet in Bel Air or Open Charter Magnet in Westchester, so you have a pretty good chance of getting in there. Another one to take a look at is Paseo Del Rey. Not sure how they are doing lately, but they also start in 1st grade, have a marine biology/natural science focus and are up in Playa del Rey. I would call the schools directly, ask to speak with the Magnet Coordinator, and ask if it has typically been more competitive to apply as a white, asian or hispanic. (Lucky you have options.) The answer will be different at each school. Of course you can only apply to one, but I know several folks that got into both BSM and PDR. For a Westside Map and listing of all the Westside schools and their contact #s, go to:

    Richland is a lovely up and coming neighborhood school. Have you taken a tour? Met any neighborhood parents? You might want to take a look around and see if it is a good fit, especially since investing in a school for your first child paves the way for your second child and also benefits the neighborhood community. BTW, my daughter did a summer performing arts camp there which was the highlight of her summer. Can’t speak to the regular school year, however.

    Also nearby is the very popular Mar Vista El. They usually have a number of out-of-area-permits they lottery off each year.

    Good luck!

  42. Hi Bree I have posted here myself even though I am an LAUSD teacher we don’t have all the answers when it comes to our own children. My oldest son is attending the Sepulveda gifted Magnet. Busing is provided and so far I am very happy with the school. Now the demographic of the Magnet is different than the school that it is housed in which is largely Hispanic as well. ( as Sandra said LAUSD fact of life) But the magnet is mostly white and Asian. This was a concern to me as my children are of mixed race ( black and arabic) and I did not want him targeted either) but as of right now he is on cloud nine loving his school. You did not say anything about your daughters grades or test scores but it may be something to look into if she does not mind a rigorous program. Gifted Magnets have special criteria to get in, but that also makes them more likely to still have spaces. Good luck! i know it is shattering to see your child victimized, fight on MAMA!!!

  43. Hi,

    Im writing from New York. My husband and I are considering amove to LA (where he is from). Do you happen to know what the LAUSD policy is on keeping twins together? Some school systems guarantee it, some don’t.


  44. Hi Caroline,

    I’ve been involved with several schools over the years and it’s a school-by-school decision. My daughter’s school encourages separation in kindergarten, but the previous administration mandated it by first grade (new principal in the last year, so I haven’t heard the current policy). I’ll ask when I see the principal this afternoon.

    Not having twins, the mandatory separation policy always seems odd to me, but again, I’m on the outside on this one. I promise to get back to you tonight!

    And you haven’t moved yet, but I’ll offer a “Welcome to L.A.” 🙂

  45. Update:

    According to my principal, it’s a school-by-school decision, but most will want to separate, some in kindergarten, others by first grade. Quoting her, “For many twins it is their 1st chance to shine without being in the other one’s shadow……..One is always the dominant personality.”

    So if you have a strong feeling either way,you might want to discuss this with the principal in question.

    Hope this helps!

  46. Dear Yentas,

    I’m not sure if you can help me with my question, but you seem so knowledgeable, I thought I’d give it a shot.

    My son is currently enrolled in 5th grade at Chime Charter elementary. He’s been designated as gifted but currently only has (I believe) 8 points – but it may be 12 (I can’t find the letter right at the moment). Our home school (northridge MS) is PHBAO, so I assume he’ll receive another 4 points at the end of this year as well.

    I’m interested in putting him into a SAS program – preferably Nobel. I can’t seem to figure out if the SAS programs participate in the points program or if it’s just the magnet schools. Do you have any information for me regarding the application process for SAS schools or even better, for Nobel’s SAS/GATE program?

    Thanks so much for any help you can give me.

  47. Hi JC,

    Points refer to magnet only, so you’d be able to apply to the Nobel magnet and to their SAS program and double your chances of acceptance somewhere on the Nobelcampus.

    If you’re at Chime, check out Lawrence’s Gifted Magnet too (in Chatsworth). They have some of the best gifted teachers around, and an incredibly stable teacher population. My son went from 2001-2004 and I think maybe two teachers have left since then. Lawrence also has SAS if I remember correctly.

    You would be able to apply to one magnet program and both SAS programs, and that would give you even better odds.

    Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

  48. Hello Yenta,
    My family lives in Glassell Park (90065) where the local public elementary school is Glassell Park Elementary. We have a one year old son, Charlie. We need to decide if we should move or not since I am not happy with the stats and reviews I have heard on GP Elementary. However, we are very close to Mount Washington Elementary which we would be thrilled to transfer to. Since there are a lot of future unknowns with inter-district transfers, especially being a white-y, I hesitate to count on it. What would you guess the likelyhood of a successful transfer would be? Any suggestions getting there? I was thinking about e-mailing Mt. Washington PTA, but was not sure what to ask. Please help! Thanks! Michelle
    Very excited to learn about this blog!

  49. Hi, Michelle!

    What a luxury, we don’t usually get a 4-year plan to help families here at Yentas 🙂

    You have several years to make friends with both the neighborhood school and/or Mount Washington, volunteer, and make a difference. The reality is that SO much can happen in four years with LAUSD, within a neighborhood school, you name it. But definitely contact the school you’re interested in, talk to their PTA and see where it leads. If it’s not likely they’ll accept a transfer, you still have the same four years to create something at Glassell.

    Good luck!

  50. All right, my dear, I’m going to rip the bandaid off. Others can weigh in with their version, but here is my version.

    Three words?


    Charlie is one. One year old. Charlie is one! (Did we mention he’s ONE?)

    We are talking about kindergarten–this will be letters and colors and with luck, aiming and hitting the toilet. What crack are you smoking, girl? No no no–we kid because we love, and know very well the full landscape of LA school hysteria. . .

    So herewith, some practical thoughts:

    1) Four years is an eternity in LA time–Glassell Park Elementary itself could go from lukewarm to smokin’ hot if a couple of rad (and yes we do mean English-speaking–bring it on, PC police, bring it on) LA moms threw down. We can’t help qvelling (again) about Aldama Elementary in Highland Park–one year ago, Highland Park public schools were a big “Huhh?”, this fall Aldama is on the cover of the California section, it’s got two bi-lingual immersion kindergartens, and a spiralling wait list. Exactly two moms whom we know of were the drivers (with of course much support from the school, the community, etc.)

    In fact, as of now, we’ll hang up a little craisglisty Glassell Park shingle for you, to see who else is in your area. (Probably like about 1000 parents in the very same pickle you’re in–if we match-dot-commed you all together, you could make your OWN Mount Washington Elementary!)

    2) Your covetous regard of Mount Washington’s high test scores (think of it as a lake more and more panicked, educated LA families keep dumping into, making its ever-high test scores a self-fulfilling prophecy, see: South Pasadena) is a specific new mother psychological phenomenon we call “hiving.” We’ve all done it. But–! We remind you that, BECAUSE HE HAS AN EXTREMELY MOTIVATED MOTHER (that’s you!) (and now we’re giving you the snaps you deserve because you were brilliant enough to find brilliant us), Charlie is already in a super-highly-advantaged group of American children, and is likely to thrive no matter where he is. Research indicates the Charlies of the world learn as much among rich as among poor kids (as long as they are not so poor health problems are rushing the entire first grade, daily, to the emergency room), because their home lives are enriched environments supported by their pro-education (and how!) families.

    3) That said, we happen to know some Mount Washington Elementary families and, indeed, they are very charming. Who wouldn’t relish sharing baked goods with their PTA? But if you want charming LA parent friends, you have us.

    4) Speaking of friends, when we are in mother/school/panic mode, often, in life, there are certain other mother friends whose mission appears to be to ramp us up into an artificial panic, and if this looks anything at all like your emotional “nest” we humbly suggest from those Doris Q. Panicmeistresses you consider a temporary divorce. At least until middle school. And tell them you have highly-placed friends in Van Nuys, which statistics indicate is 578% Hispanic, 1980% free and reduced lunch, 12,921% just own the one zapato, our score is a negative 43 and we couldn’t adore it more because it turns out our family has lots and lots of English vocabulary words to GIVE AWAY, we have extra, we actually need to use our vast tsunamia of English vocabulary LESS.

    5) Finally, we remind you that lots of great public school stuff is happening in your area, and as we hear about it we’ll post it. So. . . relax! Life is good!

    Really, it is–we suspect you are in the right place at the right time. . .


  51. Dear Magnet Yentas,

    I don’t have any children… but I’m so terrified of the schools here, I’m thinking of moving away, so that I can be well-ensconced in a new community before my husband and I start planning a family.

    I have an awesome career here, and many close friends, but I feel shut out of the housing market… seems like the more money I put away, the more house prices have spiraled upwards. Now, even with all the talk of the “housing crash” prices have not dropped to anything that I’d feel responsible about buying.

    If you had it all to do over again, would you have left L.A. while you still had the chance?

  52. Oh Gillandred, oh girl, oh.

    The task of a response has fallen to me, since upon reading your post all the other Magnet Yentas seem to have to burst into flames.

    1) Yes, housing prices in L.A. (as in many other cities) are indeed unbelievable, and unaffordable for most normal people. (I am a cheapskate Shanghai immigrant daughter who also happens to believe buying brand new sheet sets each season at Bed, Bath and Beyond is also unaffordable for most people, as are $30,000 new cars and credit cards, but that’s a lengthy post for another day.) That’s essentially why the world or at least our banks are in apocalyptic collapse, engendering a needed capitalistic contraction, and with luck, a correction. Let’s face it: the housing market blows.

    2) I myself was born and raised in L.A., and as a writer, I’ve come to accept that this Wild Wild West of a Frontier Town is actually the perfect town for me. (And if you desire proof of that, why you’ll have to buy my books, won’t you? Sandra Tsing Loh on

    3) I think Los Angeles is a fantastic city because the mix of people is unparalleled and, except for a notable conspicuous crust of botoxed, Pilateed celebs, we are funnier, radder, smarter, more future-minded, and less fossilized and stuck up than the rest of the world. Unlike certain more self-congratulatory cities, Angelenos have a sense of humor about our garish yet stinkily beautiful town.

    4) Finally, re: “Well-ensconced in a new community?” Gillandred, what IS community? Look in the mirror! It’s you. Self-esteem, girl. You are the cool people! Community starts with you. And your new husband. You’re living in 21st century Los Angeles, which is the future, and the future is what you both will make of it. And what we will make of it, via this blog, and beyond.

    5) Looks like you need an icy cocktail for your angst–Modern Spirits has a great pumpkin pie spiced vodka for the holidays! And for each bottle they plant a tree! (It IS L.A. after all–we like to throw in a word for our advertisers.)

    There’s no place like home!


  53. Regarding #56

    While it’s true Sandra, I DID burst into flames upon reading Gillandred’s query, I subsequently extinguished them as I spat out my espresso…mind you until this very day I had for months on end been wheat-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free in that only-in-LA way, so the thought of losing some of that precious liquid gold in order to extinguish myself was no small sacrifice….

    Ms. Gillandred, Ms. Gillandred, where do we begin, she says searching skyward?

    Let’s rip another band-aid off. Please refer to post #55. Particularly Sandra’s points #1, 4 and 5. And that response was written for the mother of a 1 year-old. I’ve watched women who are pregnant (pregnant!!) seriously in a hormone-induced downward fear-spiral wander over to my seminars and eagerly snatch up my elementary school guidebook, but you haven’t even conceived yet. You are looking at approximately 6 years (a few months for conception, 9 months gestation plus the 5 years one has to be) before your little junior will ever step foot in a Kindergarten classroom. 6 years. Who knows where that awesome career will lead you in 6 years. I don’t even know if there will be any banks left in 6 yrs.

    So can we please drop this kind of unnecessary school stress.

    Housing market aside, for the love of Vodka, will someone please tell me who keeps spinning this stuff about how “wretched” our dear LA schools are? Ok, I know they’re not all performing well and some aren’t at all, and maybe that cleanse I’ve been on has left a rosy pallor on my perception, but I have been witnessing nothing short of miraculous (and infectious) public school revitalizations going on around here. You really need to get out there and take a look at what’s already been happening. I can’t even begin to imagine what things might look like in 6 years. Community after community are embracing their poor, their tired, their downtrodden neighborhood schools and turning them into green hubs of change, of action, of transformation. And it’s all about the people. Coming together. The wacky cool resourceful LA people embracing their community. And if you don’t like where you live then there are charters and magnets, inter and intra-district permit transfers, renting a different address, and I could go on, but I won’t.

    Point is, there are choices. Perhaps too many of them, but choices nonetheless. But the most important one is if you see yourself as a member of the community here. If you do, you’ll figure out how to make a good life for your family.

    Looking back, would I have left LA? Absolutely not. No. Never. Not in a million. Leave LA? What, are ya kiddin’? And go where…the midwest? (been there.) The south? (done that.) East coast. (check.) The ever-more-popular Portland?

    And do exactly WHAT there?

    Breathe babe, it’s all gonna be alright.

    For more on my own backstory, albeit written when I was merely a beginner in all of this, go to:

  54. I’m not a magnet yenta, but can I answer?

    No, I would have left when I had a chance. Granted, I’m not typical — I’ve got a unique job that (mostly) only exists here that I love, so moving would involve giving up more than smog and freeways. But I haven’t seen anything that makes me think LAUSD is particularly worse than anyplace else, and I say that as someone who is frankly scared s***less by LAUSD (mainly because of its size — I grew up in a town of 20,000 people, and the LAUSD has more ten times more students than that!). But I’ve got friends with kids in private and public school, all over the country, and they’ve all got complaints and issues, even the ones that go to 20k/year kindergartens.

  55. 1) First name and birthdate of your child
    2) What grade of school you’re seeking
    3) What part of Los Angeles you’re in
    4) What your local public school is
    5) Extenuating circumstances that may apply?

    1) M. 6/04
    2) Kindergarten
    3) West LA/Westside Village
    4) Assigned to Charnock Elementary
    5) My daughter is half caucasian, half hispanic (dont know if that will help or hinder in getting permits to other schools)

    I’m very anxious over sending my daughter to Charnock next year. I’ve had so many moms tell me to do everything I can to get her into a different school (Overland and Clover are the best according to everyone I talk to). This is my first experience with LAUSD, and I’m curious as to how good my chances are at getting a permit to one of those schools, and what I need to do in order to have a good shot at this. Any suggestions/comments would be greatly appreciated !

  56. Dear P.M.,

    Take a deep breath, here is some Zen for you.

    1) A mother should not be anxious about sending her child to kindergarten in the LAUSD, period. California K-2 classes has required size limits of 20, and the mandated academic standards in kindergarten are quite high (involving reading and writing by the end of the year–much more than I remember doing in kindergarten). I have personally combed through the classwork of Hispanic English learner LAUSD students in elementaries with demographics similar to Charnock and was impressed. (And by third grade, my own LAUSD daughter is doing math involving tens and hundreds places, multiplication and and and MONEY-CHANGING that is giving me a heart attack.)

    2) You might save up your anxiety for middle school. . . although by the time you get there LA SuperMoms like Kelly Kane and Susan Nickerson will have solved all that for you.

    3) I’m a bit wary of that hive of moms telling you “to do everything you can” to get your daughter away from Charnock, which looks on paper like a typical, LA humble but clearly improving school. If I were in that hive of moms, I would probably hurl out, “Hey ladies, XENOPHOBIC. . . MUCH?” But then again, I’m wildly periomenopausal and, sadly, continue to refuse medication.

    4) Once a mother is anxious, though, I know there’s no getting off that train, so here’s how you can channel your adrenalin into action. Come December, pick up a Choices application (troll elsewhere on this weblog for basic instructions on where to find them). . . I would say you might as well apply to Community Magnet (and I’d be happy to be corrected on this by any other Magnet Yentas) to start accruing magnet points, at the very least so you have some worry beads to fondle during those long winter nights. Deadline is in mid-January. Open enrollment season is in spring (approximately March through May).

    5) We remind you that Tanya Anton’s Guide to Westside Schools (look under our Westside section) is excellent and will walk you, step by step, through everything we’re talking about.

    Courage, my dear. We continue to try to make the distinction between rational and irrational anxiety, and it turns out kindergarten anxiety in Los Angeles is not, at least academically speaking, rational.

    Warmth and good vibes to you,

  57. Dear Magnet Yentas,please share with me your wisdom!

    Here are the vitals:
    1. Jordan, 12/24/94
    2. 9th grade – High School
    3. I live in West Adams, right at Crenshaw & Washington
    4. I believe L.A. High is the local school

    And for 5…

    My son has been with his mother for K-8, going to school in Long Beach. He declared last year that he would be coming to live with me for High School, and got his mother to agree. He is in the gifted program in LBUSD, and has said that he wants a school that concentrates on math & science.

    I guess I need to know how to make sure that he stays within a gifted program, and some recommendations on schools.

    Thanks for your help!

    Perplexed Dad

  58. Dear Richard,

    Perfect timing! Our own LAUSD is throwing their annual. . .

    Magnet Faire
    Sat., Nov. 1
    9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    Ackerman Union
    308 Westwood Plaza

    For more info contact:
    Student Integration Services
    (213) 241 6572

    We have to say, there are some awesome LAUSD magnet high schools with gifted programs, math and science programs, and more. They are NOT impossible to get into (the odds actually favor you) and this faire is actually, what’s the word, yes. . . HELPFUL!!! You are the exact sort of parent, with son, these programs are looking for–they will roll out the red carpet for you.

    If you can’t wait, Angel and I are being hosted by the fab Mount Washington PTA at a special magnet information night on

    Tues., Oct. 21
    7 p.m.
    Mount Washington Elementary
    3981 San Rafael Avenue, Los Angeles, Ca 90065
    “Jack Smith Multipurpose Room”

    And of course Angel knows everything, particularly about things gifted.


  59. Richard:

    Also check out
    Click on “Magnet Program” in the left menu
    You can hunt around in there, but also try the “School Selection Tool” and fill out the form… it helps find magnet schools of various types (gifted, math/science, etc.) in your area.

    Otherwise, attend the CHOICES faire on November 1st and ask lots of questions! Good luck to you and your son in finding the right school!

  60. I guess I got here a little late, but I’ll add what I can.

    The entire magnet “season” has been moved up this year, with the final deadline to turn in applications now being January 9th. This means that all tours and visits will have to be held before the winter break. I wouldn’t wait for this year’s brochure, I’d find out one from last year or go to the Magnet Faire at UCLA and hit the ground running.

    Another big night out will be November 20th, when Monroe High School in North Hills holds its Magnet Night for incoming freshmen. There, on one campus, schools from all over LAUSD will provide information on their programs.

    High school magnets aren’t labeled as “gifted” with the exception of the highly gifted magnet at North Hollywood, but many magnets operate at an honors level and offer AP courses. Other high schools are affiliated with community colleges and allow students to attend both places depending on their strengths.

    In addition, some community colleges actually have high schools on campus that allow high school students to be dually enrolled (Moorpark, College of the Canyons, and others).

    As I’m in the NE Valley, my “LA proper” magnet ties aren’t the best, but Bravo Magnet always comes up when parents discuss great magnet programs and Ortho Hospital Magnet is another one I’ve heard good things about.

  61. Hi Sandra and Magnet Yentas:

    My son Matty (soon to be 5 years old) was in the kindergarten class at Dixie Canyon in Sherman Oaks for 2 weeks but we decided to pull him out. There were 24 kids in the class without an assistant. Eventually, the school was going to add another class. His teacher kept taking sick/personal days, and Matty was getting one substitute after another in his first 2 weeks. The principal said that this teacher was eventually going to be removed because she was not a good fit.
    Anyhow, he is currently in a wonderful private kindergarten, but we’d like to find him a good public school for next year.
    Our original plan was for him to go to his sister (3rd grade)’s Hancock Park Elementary in Miracle Mile, where she’s been with a permit. Our home school is Dixie Canyon and my husband and I work in Miracle Mile.)
    However, starting this year the school stopped taking new permits, even having a sibling there.
    Being happy with Hancock Park and also thinking of sending 2 kids to the same school, we didn’t start collecting points for my daughter until last year, aiming for a good magnet middle school. Does that mean she has only 4 points at this time? She happened to be identified as a gifted (99.5% highly gifted applicable) last year, so we could have applied for Wonderland School where many of her gifted friends transferred this year.
    Please give us some suggestions for the coming 2009/2010 school year.
    I didn’t apply for a magnet for Matty last year.
    I don’t know what to choose in a magnet school application for both kids.
    My kids are Asian/White. Which box should I pick for a magnet application?
    Thank you.

  62. Hi Mama Mimi,

    We have lots of ground to cover, so let’s get started. My son had a similar experience in kindergarten with two teachers jobsharing, substitutes and the lot. And until “norm” day there is a lot of flux, and this year has been far worse thanks to the budget flux.

    None of that really matters now. You’re looking forward to 1st and 4th grade. Did your daughter’s school specifically say they won’t be able to take new permits here on out, or were they being conservative this year with the budget mess? It’s worth asking, and keeping that on the back burner as yet another option since you’re happy having your daughter near your work, and she’s obviously established friendships there.

    Regarding magnet points, your daughter will indeed have 4 waiting list points, and your son will have none. You could get one child into a magnet and the other might have to attend another school, but you are doing that now. The real issue for 4th grade is there aren’t a lot of schools with openings in fourth grade. You could try for SOCES in the Valley (The upshot is that once she’s in there, she’s good through high school). It still doesn’t answer what to do for your son.

    On which box to check, the Yentas politely agree to disagree based on our individual experience. My experience in the North/West Valley has been to check the Hispanic box for my kids, and they were never denied (heck, my daughter got accepted when I didn’t want her to, such is the game). In other neighborhoods, yentas swear by the white box. You can ask what the ratio of acceptance is on the tour (either 60/40 or 70/30) and typically how many kids get off the wait list for each group.

    Another option you might want to try for is Open enrollment, as they tend to take siblings (they’re accepting families, not bodies). That list won’t be available until Spring. Your daughter would also be able to apply for an SAS school, and they’re listed here: . If your son were eligible for any of those schools on permit or through SAS if designated

    Before I go and write a novel for you, let us know which way you’re leaning–closer to home, closer to work, how much you want them in the same school, and whether you want to address your daughter’s giftedness more now or in junior high. Essentially, you could apply for a magnet for your kids, apply to as many open enrollment and SAS schools as you like, and hope they change the child care permit at your daughter’s school.

    Give me some more direction, and I can steer a little better.

  63. Hi Yentas, I’m so glad I found you!
    Here’s my info:
    1. Maddie, 02/03/04
    2. Kindergarten
    3. North Hollywood (West Toluca Lake, the fancy term)
    4. Toluca Lake Elementary is the local public school for us.

    Any news on the street about Toluca? I met a few parents who are less than impressed with it. Colfax is not too far but they don’t have open enrollment (at least last year.) Is Rio Vista really becoming better and better? I’ve heard mixed reviews about it too.

    We’d like to live in Burbank, but may not be able to move until after the K class would start. Do you know if Burbank schools are so much better than LAUSD? (which is the prevailing park mommy philosophy, in Burbank of course.) Looks like they don’t have open enrollment there either, and neither my husband or I work there.

    Or…should we be researching Magnet schools starting now to jump on the Choices brochure ASAP?

    All advice is very welcome, thanks in advance!

  64. Dear Linda,

    Welcome! All sounds very gauzy, emotional, and subjective, yon chat that’s going on in your mommy park. (Makes one think of a junior high poetry magazine called “Impressions.”) Very standard, though, for park bench moms to try to decode signs of the apocalypse in ever shifting tea leaves. (Although I’m intrigued that LA’s public school solution is suddenly Burbank–move over, La Canada!) Barring a few bells and whistles here and there, your child will essentially be getting the same (kindergarten!)education at all the schools you mention. The major difference measurable will the relative charisma, sparkle, and self-selling abilities of the parents, as well as the way they spin a story (“I love the fact that our teaching garden is juxtaposed against the freeway–it enables the children to process and explore a unique 21st century duality about pastoral/urban renewal”).

    For the record, Toluca Lake Elementary appears to be honestly trying to improve itself, we have FOY’s (Friends of the Yentas) who are giant Rio Vista fans (check out or Studio City page), and Colfax wasn’t Colfax very long ago. It took a cadre of about four core families, believing in their neighborhood school, to flip Colfax into the hot school it is now. (Legend has it they did it with violins!)

    Schools depend on the quality of the parents who believe in them. You have some great local choices, go ahead and fill out a magnet application too, in Dec./Jan. (directions elsewhere on this site) and. . . at the very least, don’t move to Burbank. Burbank? What? We have nothing against Burbank, nothing at all, but Burbank. . . What? Huh?

    All the best from The Nuys,

  65. Angel, thank you so much for your kind reply.

    My daughter’s school is totally capped for the current year. Not even residents can get in, and no more new permits for the next year. It even stopped renewing permits unless you are in the 4th grade. So, my daughter got lucky.

    If there should be a waiting list for the next year, we will put my son on it. But we cannot count on a miracle.

    My daughter has established friendships and she is thriving in the other activities there, so we are debating if we should apply for Wonderland Gifted Magnet for the 4th grade. I don’t know what her chances are to be picked at 4th grade there, but If she gets in and decides not go, we’ll lose all the points that we saved for a middle school.

    Applying her for Wonderland gifted magnet may give a better chance for my son to be picked as a gifted 1st grade applicant.

    He has no points but his school principal is willing to write him a recommendation.

    (We were thinking about applying our daughter to LACES, SOCES, or Milliken Middle School magnet. Do you know what our chances are if we have 12 points by the time we apply for those middle schools?)

    Having two kids at the same good school and closer to our work (Miracle Mile/Beverly Hils/West Hollywood) area was our goal but at this point we just want them to go to a good school. Having an after school program (some sort of homework club) is important for us since we both work full time.

    I had never heard of SAS program. Does it have a different enrollment from a gifted magnet to be enrolled?
    Her own school, Hancock Park, is listed in the SAS program chart but all it has is a pull out Gate program (once a week for an hour or so) – very limited.

    We went to look at a private school for my son nearby his sister’s school.

    We thought we could send him there for a year or so while we collect points.
    Another option I just thought about is that since his birthday is in November and we didn’t apply last year to start collecting points (we thought he was going to his sister’s school), Should I put his grade for the next year as K? Of course this doesn’t work if we apply for the Wonderland magnet that doesn’t offer a K grade.

    Thank you again for your time and we greatly appreciate your input.

  66. Hi Mimi,

    Just a few points of clarification. You can actually ask Wonderland how many fourth grade spots they had last year, and how many typically get in–I would be surprised to hear it was very many. Most available spots are in the first year of a magnet. For instance, a K-5 magnet with 67 spots might have 60 in kindergarten and the remaining would be spots from attrition from all the other grades.

    Your son’s principal’s recommendation would be that he meets the conditions of high ability (and likely gifted, but you will need to have him tested by LAUSD for them to consider him identified).

    Either of your children might get into Wonderland, but getting one in will not give the other a better chance until the next year. Sibling points only apply after one sibling is already in a school. No consideration is given for siblings applying at the same time. I’ve known parents turning down magnet spots because one gets in and the other siblings (even twins) don’t, and just don’t have the stamina to deposit at two schools each morning.

    SAS is usually considered a separate campus than the regular school (it’s never been a pullout program anywhere I’ve heard of it). Ask at Hancock what the enrollment requirements are for SAS.

    I’m not sure if you’re suggesting holding your son back merely to collect points, but be sure you understand you won’t be able to switch back later. Coming from a private kindergarten to repeat at a public school kindergarten would probably be frustrating for your son.

    You will be able to apply to virtually as many SAS and open enrollment (and even child care permit) campuses as you can fill out applications for and both are more likely to accept a sibling than a magnet program because the magnet program is so automated.

  67. Linda,

    Have you been to Toluca Lake or Rio Vista?

    My daughter’s school is in a duel to the death with another highly respected North Valley school and I always laugh when I hear why people chose a school or opted against a school.

    The only opinion that really matters when you visit a school is how you feel the fit is for your family.

    My suggestions for the next few months:

    Take time to visit Toluca Lake ES now, even if they don’t have kindergarten orientation until the early spring.

    See about possible open enrollment openings at other schools, and

    Definitely attend the Magnet Forum at UCLA on November 1st.

    Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

  68. I have a response for JC (question #51)- both of my children have gone to magnet schools since the 2nd grade (i currently have a 3rd grader at Balboa Magnet and a 7th grader who went to Balboa from 2nd-5th). I would suggest that you visit many of the magnet middle schools before you make a selection. We moved from Sherman Oaks to Northridge for the schools- we wanted to be in the Nobel and Granada Hills High area. After visiting several magnets, we decided that Nobel is way overrated and my daughter is at Holmes International Humanities Magnet. We LOVE the school!!! Although it is not a gifted magnet (both of my children are gifted), in 6th grade there were three honors track groups and one regular track group. Furthermore, at least a third of the students came from Balboa Magnet. The Magnet has the feel of a small private school located within a large school. The teachers are phenomenal (especially Mrs. Albaeck- 6th grade English and History.) They really get to know the students and truly look out for them. They also have an amazing computer lab with equipment for autocad (computerized architectural drafting), creating video games, music videos, etc. The class sizes are relatively small for middle school (30 +/- per class as opposed to over 40 in the SAS at Nobel)and most of the teachers have been with the program for a very long time and wouldn’t dream of leaving (in this case, this is a good thing). All of the Middle school magnets have opportunities to visit the schools, observe the programs and ask questions. You can call the individual schools and find out when they are having their tours (usually November/December). I would urge you to do this and visit as many schools as possible. You should definitely use your magnet points to apply to a magnet program, and if you don’t get in and your child qualifies, you can apply to any SAS program that you wish in May (Holmes also has a very good SAS program. The magnet and the SAS have PE together and share some programs- the rest of the school is separated from the Magnet and the SAS). Best of luck with your decision- if it’s any consulation, almost every parent of my 7th grader’s friends that I have spoken to are happy with their middle school selection (the only exception is with Nobel!!)

  69. Deena,

    I’m going to want to talk to you in a few years. I, too have an elementary school student and while my son went to Lawrence, I would like to ideally do something a little closer to home. Our limited experiences with the students and staff at Holmes have given me the hunch this is the best kept secret in the Valley, and from what you’re saying, I might be right.

  70. Hi Yentas,

    We are currently renting in Culver City and looking to buy a house either in Culver City or elsewhere on the Westside (maybe Playa Del Rey or Playa Vista?). We have a 3 year old daughter Ella, born 11/30/2004. We’re looking to enroll her in kindergarten in 2010. We have heard good things about Culver City schools generally and would like to stay in Culver City for that reason, but if we could find a good school situation in LAUSD, it would open up a lot more housing possibilities for us. Is there ANY way to apply to LAUSD magnet schools (such as Open Magnet in Westchester) while still living in Culver City? Also, I work in Culver City. Would I be able to send Ella to a CCUSD school if we live elsewhere? How are the schools in Playa Del Rey and Playa Vista? What alternatives do I have?

    Thanks a bunch,

  71. Deena,

    I’ve been there, long after my son was out of Lawrence (which is a great magnet too), but I’ve definitely been looking for a middle school option that’s not as far as Lawrence and not as buzz-y as Nobel.

    The biggest drawback I see is the uniform issue, but I’ll look into it more and see what options the school offers.

    Thanks for validating a hunch!

  72. Hi Yentas,
    Thanks so much for your speedy and thorough replies, even on a weekend! While re-reading many of the other posts I realized I can keep the bigger picture in mind, but just work on the small steps of the moment. (Kinder is next, not the long journey toward college and beyond…in Burbank (I mean OZ!) Silly, I know. Please know I have no prob with going to “The Nuys” since my church is there and some great friends are there too. I also was an ESL teacher in Van Nuys and Canoga, yes, through LAUSD, Adult Ed. It’s important to plug in and change things where you actually live. It’s just that the housing market is making me crazy, but that’s not why we are chatting here…

    I have checked out both Toluca and Rio Vista, but it was last spring and I was looking into the PreK SRLDP for my older girl. We opted not to do it since we also have a wee one who needed child care with all the parent involvement necessary for that PreK program. Too complicated for our family. But I did check the campuses out and found Toluca to be adequate. I see Rio Vista as being more involved with community outreach and of course the wonderful garden project is a plus…and you can’t beat that park being next door too. I will go back to both schools and re-visit and focus more on Kinder and beyond. And why not try to apply for a fab Magnet while we’re at it? Yep, we have lots of choices, good stuff!
    Thanks again Super Yentas,

  73. Hi Yentas,
    Oy! I recently took your advice, i walked in to my local public elementary school and it was nice! But I already blew it with elementary school and now that I have spent all of our savings on the last 6 years, what do i do now?
    Our kid is 10, we live in Los Feliz but we would drive.
    COnfession: I’ve never started the points system for magnets.
    I’d like to know: how do we find out which charter schools are near us, and other programs like – artsy things that might not require points.
    I checked out Ren Arts -went to their open house, its fabulous but not for our kid- its strictly performing arts, our kid is very art oriented, but not performer, thank god or damn it?!
    He is also, to put it gently, tiny and I have been worried about him at King which is near us unless he could get into magnet.
    Do i have any chance of getting into magnet school next year with no prior points. Kid is in 5th grade now.
    Charters? Gifted schools? how the hell do you get in those?
    Interested in Laces and the humanities program at Walter Reed- what spell do I have to cast?
    thanks so much for taking pity on me,
    yours in motherhood, Annabelle

  74. Hello Yentas!
    Thank you so much for what you are doing. It’s a little overwhelming!

    Okay, here it is….

    1) First name and birthdate of your child
    Jude DOB 1/13/05

    2) What grade of school you’re seeking
    Kindergarten in ’10

    3) What part of Los Angeles you’re in
    Valley Village

    4) What your local public school is
    Burbank Avenue Elementary

    5) Extenuating circumstances that may apply?
    Jude has an Autism diagnosis, an IEP and is in a Special Needs Pre-K program at Lankershim Elementary. With a lot of ABA home therapy, he is doing amazing. His teacher believes after another year of Pre-K, that he will possibly be able to mainstream in Kindergarden (with or without an Aide, we don’t know yet). What are your thoughts on Burbank Avenue Elementary? The Special Ed preschool teacher was awful. Are there any Magnet schools that are good for kids with an IEP? I don’t know much about the process yet, and i am unsure about where he will end up. I’ve heard that an IEP can bring about a few more coveted magnet points. Is this true? Should I apply for a Kindergarden Magnet or wait until 1st grade? I don’t know what his capabilities will be when it is time for Kindergarden. Please help! Thank you so much!

    • Try the yahoo board – lot’s of help with parents in same situation.

      It’s going to depend on how well he does in situations “without” an aide. If he can do what the other kids do in terms of behavior – you can always give him the extra help he needs for school – at home. He has to be able to do sit still at circle time, follow directions, and not hurt himself. That’s about all they expect coming in for any kid…the rest he’ll learn/adapt with his peers…

      If he’s high-functioning, dont put him in “special ed”…he’ll do better with mainstream kids picking up THEIR bad habits instead of the other special needs kids bad habits (spitting, self stim stuff, etc).

      However, if he still needs help – have them provide a behavior aide – who is “shadow”….so he thinks they are just another “teacher” in class – that way it will give him confidence to not always rely on “his” person…using them as a crutch….

  75. Hi Yentas,
    My daughter just turned 3. We live in the Santa Clarita Valley. Our local school is Plum Canyon elementary. I am interested in finding out more about the Balboa magnet school. But I am totally confused by the application process for a magnet. I am also interested in finding out what criteria are used in figuring out eligibility for this school. Also, any suggestions for other schools in a 20 mile radius are welcome.
    I am a complete newbie to this process, so please help me out, I am totally stressed out by this and honestly, I don’t see much hope at all :-), but that said, I still have to try.

  76. Hi Ally (response #81),

    Not to burst any bubbles for you but the LAUSD Magnet Program accepts students in the LAUSD attendance boundaries, which would require a move to at least Granada Hills or Sylmar to happen.

    I am trying to find out information on SCV from another mom with a vast knowledge of area schools, so I’ll post as soon as I hear anything for you.

  77. Hi Robin (regarding response #80),

    I’m not all that familiar with IEPs, so I consulted with a mom I’ve been talking to for awhile who’s better equipped. I’m going to quote her sage wisdom:

    “You know, if I had done my research early on, I would have signed up for the magnet program while my daughter was still in the womb! LOL

    I looked at Lankershim (which, according to GS, has a low score) and Burbank Blvd. Elementary (higher GS rating). Lankershim has a website; Burbank does not. It’s really hard to tell which school would work for her. Her son is still young, and she’s not sure what his needs will be in two years. Also, who knows if the same teachers, administrators, etc., will still be there when her son is ready to attend school.

    You may want to suggest to her to attend the Choices Informational Faire on November 1, at UCLA Akerman Union. But I think that, if anything, she should look at GATE programs once her son is a little older and she has more of a handle on his abilities and needs. Kids with autism can be brilliant in a subject, but they can’t communicate, they may be violent at times, they wander, among other things.

    Also, she could still put her name in for the magnet program; once her son is ready for 1st grade, she can check out the schools the LAUSD has recommended. I’m not at all familiar with how the magnet program works either (sorry about that).

    My recommendation would be she attend the Choices Faire, and that she wait to see what her son’s needs and abilities are when he turns five.

    I hope I’ve helped a bit.”

    (Angel returning) I honestly don’t think I could suggest anything better. The Magnet Faire is *this* Saturday, November 1st at UCLA in the Ackerman building. For more details on it, visit:

    Another idea would be to talk to local schools directly, and see about open enrollment, since it’s been my experience that the magnets don’t necessarily focus on the special needs of LD kids. Instead of worrying about a science lab or their PE program, you’re going to want to know how well they adhere to that IEP and how they will allow him to thrive in his least restrictive environment.

    I can suggest you visit the GreatSchools Parent Community and discuss some school options there. They aren’t a TON of LAUSD parents, but the Learning and Attention Difficulties group will help you ask the right questions and find the best situation for your son. The community is at

  78. Hi Annabelle,

    We’re here for you. First, you can find all the charters in the state with this site:

    You would be able to use open enrollment to find schools that might be in your area that have openings. Here’s the list from last year from LAUSD that you can use as a guideline:

    The Humanities Brochure for Walter Reed is located here:

    and I’d suggest going to the Magnet Faire this Saturday at UCLA and schmooze a little. When you find magnets that interest you, ask how many points it does take to get into specific magnets. While many are leery to say X, I’ve always found if you ask how low did did they go on the waiting list and how many points did a waiting list applicant have, they can answer that without feeling compromised.

    Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

  79. Hi Ally:

    For everyone living south of the Newhall Pass, I need to start with a bit of information about Santa Clarita: we have five elementary school districts (generally K-6), one high school district (7-12), and eight private schools. We don’t have many charter schools (I believe there are two or three) or any magnet schools (none that I know of) because, generally speaking, the public schools are that good. Many people move to the area for the schools.

    For example, Stevenson Ranch Elementary (Newhall School District) was recently ranked as one of the top elementary schools in the state. A number of the elementary schools have been recognized (more than once) as “California Distinguished Schools) and “Blue Ribbon Schools.”

    Plum Canyon Elementary has been recognized as a California Distinguished School and one of my colleagues has a treasured niece who did very well there. I don’t have personal experience with the school — my daughter went to a school in the Newhall School District, nonetheless, everybody I’ve heard from says that “it’s a great school.

    Why not join the PTA now, become active and get to know the school, its faculty and the principal. This way you’ll have a chance to learn if the school will be a good fit for your daughter in two years.

    You can also spend some time checking out Santa Clarita’s new charter school: Santa Clarita Valley International Charter School

    A final note: It is the case that intra-district transfers (those between the different schools) have been known to happen (okay, I know of exactly one – from the overcrowded Newhall School District to the less-crowded Saugus School District about six years ago) but it doesn’t happen often.

    Something else to consider: its a long, long drive to Balboa Magnet. Think about the fact that even if there were no school district issues, from your part of Santa Clarita to anywhere outside of the Valley means that you will have to leave your house by about 6:45 to have your daughter at school by 8a.

    Why not give Plum Canyon a try?

  80. Hi Willa, (comment #76)

    If you live in the CC district, unfortunately you will NOT be eligible to apply to an LAUSD Magnet. However, there are some addresses in Culver City which fall into LAUSD school territories. Tricky, isn’t it? To be sure which district your home falls into, plug your current address into the LAUSD school finder and verify your school assignment.

    Additionally, many who live on or near the CC-WLA border (the “Culver City panhandle” I like to call it), use the inter-district permit system to cross over from one district to the other. Short Ave is an example of an LAUSD school with an LA address who’s boundaries are right on the border of CC with folks permitting in from CC and out of LAUSD into a different CC school. Other schools with CC addresses which are classified as LAUSD schools are: Braddock, Playa Del Rey, and Stoner Elementary.

    Culver City, generally speaking and of course if space is available, takes permit requests for business addresses, so you could ostensibly live elsewhere and apply for a permit into a CC school based on your work address. You might have to wait to hear an answer until the summer or even early Sept of the enrollment year, but obtaining a permit into CC shouldn’t be as hard as getting one into Santa Monica.

    Now, if by CC schools you are meaning that you are gunning for the ever popular el Marino with their japanese and spanish immersion programs, they have their own enrollment priorities:

    More on Culver City schools, including permitting info:

    If you do move into an LAUSD address, you will have more options. There are many great public schools on the Westside. Hopefully wherever you end up, it will be in a neighborhood where you like the local school. Additionally, you will be able to apply to magnets, request a permit into CC based on your work address, and with all that choice, hopefully all will be well. BTW, charters are another option open to residents of any district.

    Of course it goes without saying that the best thing you can do is be involved in your child’s educational life no matter which school you end up in.

    Good luck!

  81. Help!

    We could really use some guidance in locating viable, quality public middle schools in the San Fernando Valley area for our son who will be in 7th grade next year. Can you point me in the right direction? I can do some independent study if you could just give me some guidance.

    Thank you for your time.

    Studio City Mom

  82. Studio City Mom:

    I don’t know about lots of middle schools in the South Valley (I’m in the North Valley) but I do hear good things about Walter Reed MS, which is on the border of Studio City and North Hollywood. They have several small learning communities… humanities academy, international academy, SAS, Individualized Honors Program, etc. Stop by their office to get information and sign up for a tour. Not sure how hard it will be for you to move into a middle school in 7th grade… but you can ask. Good luck!

  83. Hi, I’m in the Valley, but NE Valley as well, so I’m a bit limited. What’s your home school? Have you visited? I’m taking tours in the next few weeks of both middle and senior high schools with few friends who are a bit overwhelmed with this entire process.

    Another school I always hear buzz about is Millikan in Sherman Oaks, with their performing arts magnet. Millikan also has an SAS (school for advanced studies). I’m not sure if they’ll have open enrollment available this year or not.

    You can apply for one magnet, as many SAS schools and as many open enrollment schools as you wish to.

    Have we confused you? Keep asking and we’ll keep answering.

  84. Hi, I live right by Fairfax H.S. I have a just turned four year old, Angela, and she is currently attending a preschool in Culver City. I did attend the Choices event this weekend and it definitely freaked me out more about her kindergarten prospects for next year. Our zone school is Laurel Elementary which I’ve rarely hear anyone praising. It just seems like such a lottery to get her into a magnet school. We are Puerto Rican but not sure if that really matters at all. So is this correct–first option is open enrollment and one magnet school, if that doesn’t work, I can get a permit to get into certain schools? Confused!


  85. Dear Lilliam,

    Oh dear–our hope was that the LAUSD Choices event would be a CLARIFYING rather than an ALARMING event. I’ll leave it to the other yentas to lay out the exact order of magnet, charter, open enrollment, and permit applications/acceptances from now through May (actually through September!), but in the meantime I invite you to glance at our West Hollywood and Mid-Wilshire/Miracle Mile pages. We’ve listed contact info for some wonderfully active parents in some great LAUSD elementaries in the general Laurel Elementary vicinity who might have some (easy to digest! comforting!) local wisdom to share.


  86. Dear Lilliam,

    It seems to me that Rosewood might be a good option for you, it is closer than West Hollywood and, unless something has changed, lots of open enrollment. Last year Rosewood offered 75 available seats, one of the highest numbers of open enrollment spaces in the area. Rosewood is not far from Beverly Center, it is near La Cienega and just north of Beverly. So, the school is pretty close to the Fairfax/Melrose area where Fairfax High and Laurel Elementary are located.

    Rosewood began to turn around at the same time as the Beverlywood Moms took on Canfield. Both schools were very successful in their attempt to re-engage the surrounding community in their local public schools. Rosewood is thought of as a very good option and many families vy for those open enrollment seats. And Rosewood is right across the street from the pricey and private Center for Early Education. So you can throw tomatoes at the limousine liberals while you’re dropping your kids off at Kinder.

    Good luck!

  87. Dear Yentas,

    Even after attending the (to me mind-boggling) Choices Faire, I remain seriously confused:

    1. I have only recently learned that my son’s birth date (11-19-03) makes him currently eligible for LAUSD Kindergarten, but only eligible for private Kindergarten next fall. He’s currently in preschool. If I want him to go to a (gifted?) magnet, should I remove him from preschool and place him in his LAUSD home school Kindergarten? Could he apply for grade one at a magnet school for next fall without having gone to Kindergarten (just straight from preschool)? (I take it I should have applied last spring in order to now have already accumulated points…)
    2. For giftedness, do the results from a private tester, with or without a letter from a LAUSD school psychologist, “qualify” him for gifted eligibility, if the tests are the Mirman tests — i.e., Stanford Binet LM (all ages, score of 145) or the WPPSI III (ages 4-6, score of 138 and above) or WISC IV (ages 5.6 and above, score of 138 and above)?
    3. Is there any kind of faire for Charter schools?
    4. Am I only allowed to apply to one magnet?

    Any help you could offer would of course be greatly appreciated.

    Anne Milder

  88. Anne: Sounds to me like you are doing great on starting to get a handle on this crazy system! Bravo for diving in… you’ll get to the deep end of the pool soon enough! 🙂

    I will get to #1 at the end, but here are my responses to your other questions:

    #2 – Contrary to all logic, the LAUSD will generally NOT accept private testing results. It varies a bit school to school, but generally they require your child to be tested by LAUSD psychologists. As Angel has said elsewhere on this site, it is “LAUSD at its egalitarian best.” They don’t want those “rich” kids who can afford outside testing to prosper over other “poor” kids who can’t. So everybody has to go through the same slow, bureaucratic, underfunded system of testing…

    The good news is that even if your child doesn’t attend LAUSD, you can request testing from your local school IF YOUR CHILD IS SCHOOL AGE. Since your child is so young, I wouldn’t even request testing at this point. You can simply apply for a gifted magnet through CHOICES and the child’s current teacher can vouch that the child meets certain criteria for giftedness(found on the website). Please check out the “Gifted” menu link to the right on this Yenta site to see more details on gifted testing…

    #3 – I am unaware of any Charter School faire… anybody else?

    #4 – Yes, you can only apply to one magnet a year (major bummer, but that’s the system!).

    #1 – Going back to #1, I am not positive but believe you can apply for a magnet first grade even if your child hasn’t attended kindergarten, since Kindergarten isn’t required by California law. (Other Yentas wanna chime in?) I do think it is a stronger case for your child if the teacher who is saying s/he meets gifted criteria is a kindergarten vs. preschool teacher, but that’s just my gut feeling. Whether you are in LAUSD for kindergarten or in private school doesn’t matter. But the teacher must say the child meets gifted criteria or your application for a gifted magnet will be thrown out… and your application wasted!


  89. Anne,

    Just to be clear, you will be able to start your child next year in LAUSD kindergarten. There are plenty of instances of “redshirting” kindergarteners, and your son is only two weeks from the cutoff.

    Gifted magnets don’t start until first grade. You could stay in private kindergarten, apply, and see if you get in.

    Private tests are a no-no, but in lower grades you can get the school to fill in the paperwork for designating him.

    Charter faires–not aware of any, but some preschools offer something like this for parents and include public, private, charter and other schools, so perhaps you can talk to your preschool and see about starting one up. They invite everyone and let the parents have their own faire.

    Only one magnet can be applied to. Then you can apply to as many other schools through Open Enrollment and SAS (not sure what grade most SAS start in) that you wish.

    All that said, you haven’t mentioned your home school, so we have to ask the obliglatory question: “Have you physically checked out your neighborhood school yet?” So many parents coming out of private preschool are terrified over misperceptions that sometimes the “boots on the ground” inspection yields a pleasant surprise.

  90. Can the yentas explain in for-the-ignorant detail how open enrollments works? My local elementary seems nice, but I’ve been hearing good things about one only a couple of miles away and would like to possibly go check it out. However, if there’s no practical hope of getting in I’d rather not bother. (I’m talking about Mountain View Elementary in Tujunga, FWIW). Also, I am a lover of consistency, so if open enrollment is something you need to do every year, that’s a negative in my book, since I’d hate to find out a week before school starts that I can’t come back, or similar. From my reading it seems like it is a catch as catch can year by year process, but I’ve been wrong bout LAUSD stuff in the past!

  91. Hello,
    I just starting the daunting task of finding a preschool and I’m currently reading Mother on Fire (which is freaking me out) and I looking for some advice on schools and how the local public school in my area is doing. thanks!
    1) J born 8/28/06
    2) Preschool and K
    3) Westchester
    4) Loyola Village Elementary

  92. Re: #97, Hi Amy!

    My daughter is in a Valley elementary school through Open Enrollment. Typically Open Enrollment is for the tenure in the school, which is why it is preferable to a child care permit at the same school (but even child care permits are RARELY not renewed in a neighborhood with a stable resident population). There have been very rare instances in Westside schools that I’ve heard where permits were revoked due to high neighborhood return to the school, but honestly, not in the NE Valley.

    I went ahead and looked at Mountainview had 25 openings last year (and 50 the two years prior). If you’re really interested in your chances, make nice with the office person in charge, asking how many applied, and how deep down the waiting list they went. You’ll get a better idea of what you’re up against.

  93. Robert currently 3 1/2 (April 26, 2005)
    I am looking for a Kindergarten school in a few years.
    We wilve in Mar Vista
    Local public schoool is Walgrove

    I think Robert would do better at a more progressive school. I’m have mixed feelings about Open Court. What schools should I consider? I am interested in Ocean Charter but don’t know how hard it is to get in. I am overwhelmed and not sure where to start.

  94. Dear Ana,
    As Walgrove is your home school, I suggest you begin your search there. For more info on their co-constructivist progressive leanings you might wish to check out their website and take a look at the introductory video which is a kind of “day-in-the-life” snapshot of the goings on at Walgrove. You might not realize that Walgrove has successfully launched a Studio Program for the lower grade students which uses art, natural, and re-purposed materials in a hands-on project-based way in conjunction with the core curriculum, to deepen math and literacy skills. The teachers also enjoy regular mentoring and professional development with the Reggio-inspired Directors and Master Teachers from both the highly sought-after New School West and First Presbyterian Nursery Schools. There are learning gardens, music and art, and Walgrove has experienced a population explosion this year as the surrounding neighborhood has begun to embrace this little school. Tour season begins late Jan –Feb. I invite to take a closer look. (Caveat, I am a Walgrove parent.)

    Ocean Charter is a Waldorf-inspired charter with a competitive lottery that takes place in March.

    As far as other Westside public school options, I will shamelessly direct you to my website, my Guidebook, or perhaps one of my public school seminars, where you will find a wealth of information:

    New! Updated and Revised!
    “Westside Guide to Public Elementary Schools:
    Navigating Magnets, Charters, Permits & More”

    “Big Shout Out for Must-Have Guide!”

    Best of luck on your school journey!

  95. Amy,
    Schools that are under-enrolled or have space available will accept Open Enrollment applications from outside their neighborhood attendance area beginning in May. The district determines how many OE seats a school can offer for the fall based on their projections at the district “Road Show” held each April. If a school gets more OE requests than seats, they will hold a lottery in June to determine who gets those OE seats. Open Enrollment is pretty much a guaranteed, once in you’re in until you matriculate. As an added plus, there are no yearly permits to renew. Or as my daughter would say, “easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy!”

    I agree with Angel- the school in question will have a pretty good idea of your OE chances if you ask them. By all means, take a look.

  96. My daughter Kellie is 10 and presently in 5th grade at Balboa Magnet. We are currently visiting middle school magnets in the Granada Hills, Northridge, and Chatsworth area. I have been leaning towards Porter because it is a gifted magnet and it is our home school. I believe Porter is PHBAO so I think we will end up with 16 points when we apply.

    I am leaning against Nobel because it is too big and class sizes seem large. At the middle school magnet night this week, I listened to the presentations on Holmes and Lawrence. Holmes is convenient since it is so close to Balboa but Lawrence is a little far away for us. I have not been considering Patrick Henry or Frost although they are not far away from us.

    Besides an on-campus tour and some info on websites, how do I decide which school to choose? I am looking for a great program with great teachers that will prepare her for high school and college. I want her to have fun and not drown in homework or projects that take every spare second to complete. I want her to have interesting electives and after school sports. I want her exposed to technology, my profession, as much as possible. She should be challenged in all subjects including math and science.

    I am concerned about a school that is a 15-20 minute drive one way for us since it creates logistical challenges for my husband and I to commute to/from work and to get my other daughter to/from Balboa Magnet. A bus ride is an option for us to consider but the school would have to be great and well beyond the other options for us to seriously consider it.

    Can anyone offer any insights, recommendations, or advice?

  97. My son, let’s call him Sir Paul, was to start K at Brockton Elem in Sept 2008; he’ll be 6 in Jan. We were able to keep him in his private Montessori preschool for his K year, where he’s happily reading, writing, and ’rithmatik-ing. But OMG things are financially difficult right now and we just can’t afford it. Are there any options besides Brockton for an immediate transfer?

    We’ve got our eye on Brentwood Science for first grade in Sept 2009. He’ll have only 4 pts. (I see now I should have applied last fall for an impossible-to-get K spot somewhere). I visited there last spring and they said they’d run through their grade 1 waitlist and were taking walk-ins, but my son was like a month too young.

    I could also choose to have LAUSD test him for giftedness and apply to maybe Baldwin Hills (magnet-gifted program in a regular home school, I think). But transportation is an issue. We live across the street from Santa Monica – so close and yet so far.

    I understand Brentwood Science has a GATE program within the magnet school, but I don’t understand it. The lady answering the phone at LAUSD/GATE said I should only have him tested if we choose a gifted-magnet school. I thought if I live in LAUSD I could have him evaluated.

    It seems we also may also be eligible for public school choice. But because Sir Paul is brilliant, white, and poor only by Santa Monica standards, I doubt that will work. Besides, what school should I choose?
    We’re looking to move, maybe in 2009, and would like to stay on the Westside.

    What the is SAS?

    I am a smart, well educated and committed mom, but this stuff is unbelievably complicated. Sympathy and suggestions are most welcome.

  98. Hi Yenta,

    This is our first year in LAUSD (we’re from Chicago) and I like my kid’s schools so far. My 5th grade son is in Sherman Oaks Elementary (our “home” school) and my 7th grade daughter is in Millikan (again, our home school). When we first moved here I didn’t live in the Millikan boundaries so I originally got my 7th grade daughter in Millikan through the SAS application. She came from a gifted school in Chicago so they happily put in her in SAS here. After the first few weeks of school, I learned that she was actually put in the “Math Academy” at Millikan. Great for her because she loves math, but nobody told/asked me/her anything about it. Next year my son wants to go to Millikan for the “Performing Arts Academy” (math is not his thing!). I have the Choices Brochure and I have filled in Millikan “Performing Arts Magnet” even though our home school is Millikan anyway. If I understand it correctly I still have to get him into the “Performing Arts Magnet” in order to audition for the “Performing Arts Academy”. Oy, so confusing! I also received a Choices brochure for my daughter and I filled out SOCES. Mostly just for this bizarre point system you have. She would prefer to not be “the new kid” again next year, and remain at Millikan through graduation. I suppose if she actually got in to SOCES, I’d really have to talk her in to moving there. Although I don’t know much about SOCES, and only love the idea of the school because it would then solve the High School situation.

    So, here are my questions –

    1. For my currently 5th grade, applying for 6th grade son – Am I correct about my assumption with the “Performing Arts Magnet/Academy” stuff? Or can he still audition for the “Academy” if he doesn’t get accepted to the Magnet? His chances of getting into the “Magnet” are better than none since he doesn’t have any points.

    2. For my currently 7th grade, looking toward High School daughter – How do I get her tested for Gifted or Highly Gifted? I need to look toward choosing a High School (I’m already panicking) and need to make sure she is in a school that meets her advanced math needs. Plus, I am not used to this driving all over to take the kids to school thing. I would prefer to find a High School for my daughter nearby Sherman Oaks. Hollywood High Highly Gifted program, Van Nuys M/S/T magnet and SOCES are three I have heard about, but don’t know what they (or the parts of the schools that aren’t magnet) are like.

    3. Any other advice that you think a LAUSD newbie should have would be greatly appreciated!



  99. Hi Yentas,

    I have a currently 5th grade son at Sherman Oaks Elementary and a currently 7th grade daughter at Millikan. We live in Sherman Oaks and both Millikan Middle School and Sherman Oaks Elementary are our “home” schools. We moved here from Chicago this year so we don’t have any points. We also don’t have a clue about this whole LAUSD system!

    When we first moved here we didn’t live in the Millikan boundaries so I got my 7th grade daughter into Millikan through the SAS program. She was in a gifted school back in Chicago so I didn’t have any problem getting her in through SAS. However, after the first month of school, at the Open House night, I found out that they had put her in the “Math Academy”. Fine by her since she loves math, but they never bothered to ask or tell either me or her. This means that I have to find a High School that can keep up with her math needs. When she graduates 8th grade she will have completed Algebra 1 (regular freshman H.S. level) and Geometry (regular Sophomore H.S. level). I have just learned about the Gifted and Highly Gifted programs, but don’t know how to get her tested. Plus, I was thinking about applying for SOCES in the Choices brochure this year. Mostly just for points, but I suppose if by some miracle she got in I should really consider sending her there. She would seriously hate to be “the new kid” again, but at least it would solve the high school issue. I think.

    My son wants to go to Millikan’s “Performing Arts Academy” (math isn’t his thing). I have the Choices brochure filled out for the Millikan “Performing Arts Magnet” even though Millikan is our home school. If I understand it correctly I need to get him into the “Performing Arts Magnet” in order to audition for the “Performing Arts Academy”. However, with zero points, I doubt he will get into the magnet.

    So, here are my questions –

    1. For my daughter – What High Schools should I be looking at that would fit my daughter’s advanced math situation? I have only heard about North Hollywood High’s Highly Gifted program, Van Nuys Math Science Magnet and SOCES, but I don’t know anything about any of those schools. Are there other schools that I should know about?

    2. Is it a bad idea or a good idea to use the Choices brochure to apply to SOCES this year? To be honest I don’t really know what the school offers. I just liked the fact that it went all the way through High School.

    3. How, where and when do I get my daughter tested for Gifted and/or Highly Gifted?

    4. For my son – Is the only way to get into Millikan’s “Performing Arts Academy” through the Choices brochure “Performing Arts Magnet” acceptance? Or can he still audition for the Academy since we live in the Millikan boundaries?

    I am really having a hard time deciphering the difference between Magnets, Academies, SAS, Gifted, Highly Gifted and Centers of Enriched Studies.

    Ideally I would like to keep the driving to a minimum and stay relatively close to Sherman Oaks (avoiding the early morning freeways or the dreaded Beverly Glen drive) but I suppose I should still look at schools on the Westside as well.

    I hope that wasn’t too many questions/issues!



  100. Hi Yentas,

    I have a currently 5th grade son at Sherman Oaks Elementary and a currently 7th grade daughter at Millikan. We live in Sherman Oaks and both Millikan Middle School and Sherman Oaks Elementary are our “home” schools. We moved here from Chicago this year so we don’t have any points. We also don’t have a clue about this whole LAUSD system!

    When we first moved here we didn’t live in the Millikan boundaries so I got my 7th grade daughter into Millikan through the SAS program. She was in a gifted school back in Chicago so I didn’t have any problem getting her in through SAS. However, after the first month of school, at the Open House night, I found out that they had put her in the “Math Academy”. Fine by her since she loves math, but they never bothered to ask or tell either me or her. This means that I have to find a High School that can keep up with her math needs. When she graduates 8th grade she will have completed Algebra 1 (regular freshman H.S. level) and Geometry (regular Sophomore H.S. level). I have just learned about the Gifted and Highly Gifted programs, but don’t know how to get her tested. Plus, I was thinking about applying for SOCES in the Choices brochure this year. Mostly just for points, but I suppose if by some miracle she got in I should really consider sending her there. She would seriously hate to be “the new kid” again, but at least it would solve the high school issue. I think.

    My son wants to go to Millikan’s “Performing Arts Academy” (math isn’t his thing). I have the Choices brochure filled out for the Millikan “Performing Arts Magnet” even though Millikan is our home school. If I understand it correctly I need to get him into the “Performing Arts Magnet” in order to audition for the “Performing Arts Academy”. However, with zero points, I doubt he will get into the magnet.

    So, here are my questions –

    1. For my daughter – What High Schools should I be looking at that would fit my daughter’s advanced math situation? I have only heard about Hollywood High’s Highly Gifted program, Van Nuys Math Science Magnet and SOCES, but I don’t know anything about any of those schools. Are there other schools that I should know about?

    2. Is it a bad idea or a good idea to use the Choices brochure to apply to SOCES this year? To be honest I don’t really know what the school offers. I just liked the fact that it went all the way through High School.

    3. How, where and when do I get my daughter tested for Gifted and/or Highly Gifted?

    4. For my son – Is the only way to get into Millikan’s “Performing Arts Academy” through the Choices brochure “Performing Arts Magnet” acceptance? Or can he still audition for the Academy since we live in the Millikan boundaries?

    I am really having a hard time deciphering the difference between Magnets, Academies, SAS, Gifted, Highly Gifted and Centers of Enriched Studies.

    Ideally I would like to keep the driving to a minimum and stay relatively close to Sherman Oaks (avoiding the early morning freeways or the dreaded Beverly Glen drive) but I suppose I should still look at schools on the Westside as well.

    I hope that wasn’t too many questions/issues!



  101. My daughter is currently enrolled in a private elementary school. I want her to go to a public middle school, but I’m worried about the public school in my area. We live at Sunset and Fairfax. She is not gifted, so a gifted magnet is out of the question. Any info?

  102. Hi Magnet Yentas!

    Can you help us with a game plan for kindergarten starting in Fall 2010?
    Here’s the info:
    1) Nicholas 11-07-04
    2) starting K in Fall 2010
    3) Atwater Village
    4) Glenfeliz Blvd. Elementary
    5) Though he could start kindergarten in Fall 2009 (his birthday is a month before the LAUSD cut off) our plan is to do Pre-K at his current preschool next year, then start K in Fall 2010.

    Glenfeliz, our local school, is an option for K (we’re getting involved and starting to fundraise) but we want to make an educated decision and maximize our options for later on.

    Since he does qualify for K next year, we’re thinking we put in an application for Community Magnet this Dec. 08/Jan. 09 to build up points, and do it again next year. Then we also apply for Larchmont Charter and Los Feliz Arts Charter for K with little expectation of getting in.

    What other schools should we consider that start in K or 1 that won’t have him in the car for significantly more than 35 minutes each way?

    My spouse works in Los Feliz in the Franklin Ave Elementary district, should we try to apply for a childcare permit for Franklin Ave?

    Can anyone offer advice?

  103. My four year old, Eve, will be ready for kindergarten next year. We live in Burbank. Does this mean we are out of the running for all LAUSD magnets and other fun programs? We’re BUSD, you see. Are we stuck in the Burbs for K-12?

  104. Jennifer:

    We are in your area and I, along with several friends, are in the same position as you in seeking a middle school. Isn’t this fun?!

    Looks to me like you are doing all the right things. One correction — your CURRENT school has to be PHBAO to get the points, not the school to which you are applying. Balboa is likely not PHBAO so don’t count on those points (bummer, I know… sorry).

    I know that Holmes (humanities magnet) is considered “hot” right now, popularity has greatly increased the past few years, and it is competitive to get into, lots of Balboa kids go there now and it is seen as the alternative to Nobel (formerly the King/Queen); given it is located close to your other daughter, it should be on your radar screen. Friends who took the tour there were mucho impressed. But all of the choices you list (Nobel, Porter, Henry) are fine and perfectly good schools. I don’t have more specific knowledge about them, sorry.

    I would be sure to do the tours along with your daughter so she can weigh in, read everything online you can (Google,,, see everything online you can (I personally enjoy Youtube videos of school stuff posted by students… says a little about the culture). More importantly, talk to parents of kids who go to the schools you are interested in. Stalk the yard at last bell and hit up any parents present. Go to a PTA meeting in the evening at your school of choice. I have found most parents are happy to share their knowledge and opinions with “newbies.” This is not a scientifically valid sample size, of course, but at this point, every teeny tiny shred of info helps paint a better picture for you.

    Like I said, I’m going through the same thing with you. It is a HARD decision. In the end, talk to your daughter, weigh the pro/cons, go with your gut and remember that no decision is irreversible. You can always go back to the local school (Porter) as a fallback at any time if another program you choose doesn’t work out.


  105. Jennifer:

    P.S. I have also heard very positive things about Lawrence. The commute for you is daunting but just in case that is of use, it is supposed to be a very good school if your child is the driven, academic type.

  106. Mindi:

    I can’t answer all your questions, but for the gifted testing one, see the “Gifted Student Programs” menu to the top right of this forum and go there. There is a big discussion about gifted testing in LAUSD. Hope that helps (from a fellow former Chicagoan 😉

  107. One more correction–not the current school, either–it’s the RESIDENT school.

    I’m still trying to get the smoke out of my office, but I’ll actually answer more later.

  108. Re response 103:
    Hi Jennifer!

    You’re doing everything right so far. Have you taken your daughter on any of these tours? I will say that starting in junior high, the hardest part is often getting them up in the morning, so if you get buy-in from your child, you will have survived half the battle.

    When my son graduated from Balboa, most matriculated to Sepulveda and Porter, with a smaller group at Lawrence (that’s not a reason to go, but finding out where her friends will be may be an asset).

    I never found any of the magnets had significantly smaller class sizes because those are state mandates, so I wouldn’t hold that against a school. As for school size, see if each school clusters the kids or if the magnet is just interspersed wherever they had additional classrooms. See how they shelter the sixth graders (separate PE? early lunch and class dismissal until they “get” passing periods and hash lines? do they keep the same homeroom for all three years? And how does the magnet interact (or not) with the whole school?). As for the commute, take that into serious consideration because all those group projects will be from kids even further away (we’re in San Fernando, and yet my son *always* got paired with kids from West Hills).

    My son went to Lawrence, and I will say homework was pretty heavy there, and a lot of projects, but I think you’ll find that’s as driven by the parents as it is by the teachers (I’m apparently in the minority in wanting gifted kids to have lives outside of school and I don’t expect my kids to go to Harvard). A nice plus regarding Lawrence is that there has been very little teacher turnover in the magnet since my son was there (2001-2004). He went back for a “reunion” this spring and the math, science, and social studies teachers were all there. That said, I suspect you’ll find all gifted magnets with homework loads that are similar, just by what I’ve heard from families with older siblings than my elementary school daughter. Some things never change.

    I hope this helped answer *some* questions, but if I missed a glaring one, holler back. Good luck!

  109. Re response 104 and Sir Paul:

    I’m going to let the Westside moms handle the specifics because they know their stuff, but regarding SAS, here’s the website:

    Schools for Advanced Studies were created as a response for parents wanting more gifted opportunities for their kids. The schools are run separately from the neighborhood school. Logistically, you can apply to as many SAS programs as you wish. Applications are usually accepted in May. The downside to SAS is there is no transportation provided, unlike magnets.

  110. Regarding Mindi’s multiple posts in the 100s:

    Regarding your daughter: First off, remember on the tour to ask how many students they take in each grade. Typically *most* spots open up in the first year of the magnet. SOCES might be a little different because of it being elem/middle/high school, but it’s highly unlikely there are more than a few spots (from attrition) in eighth grade. Applying to SOCES would not likely get her in for eighth grade, but before you apply again for 9th grade, you’d really want to do your homework. The entire school has only something like 1800 students, in nine grades so there are only 200 in each grade. Getting specialized math courses beyond AP Calc AB and AP Stats might be challenging.

    You can find out how far Math goes at each high school. Many have Calculus BC and Statistics. If she needs to go further than that, she will be able to take courses at the community college (and depending on the school, she might even be able to take a math course as Independent Study–my son was able to his senior year).

    Do the tours (starting this year) for your daughter. And if you’re available on November 20th, go to the Magnet Night at Monroe. You’ll get an idea of what each school has to offer and you can talk to several schools in one night.

    Regarding your son: Apply to the magnet, and hopefully he gets in. The perk will be if you get on the waiting list, he could conceivably be called the first or second week of school and not have too tough a transition.

    I know that I’ve just touched on a few of your questions, so shoot back a response and I’ll focus on those. I know others will respond to.

  111. Thanks! I didn’t know about the Magnet Night at Monroe. I’ll try to pester as many schools as I can. As far as a strong math program (and good overall academic program) what high schools are usually highly recommended?

    I do feel lucky that I can send my son to Millikan without worrying about “getting in”. However I don’t know what the general school (as opposed to one of the academies or magnets) is like. Regardless, my son will be thrilled to not take high school math! I’ll still apply for the Performing Arts Magnet, but with zero points I’m not holding out much hope. Maybe we’ll get a few points racked up in time for his high school.

    I’m off to check out the gifted section of this site. I have to say, this is a great forum! I’ll make sure to tell my sister (and her 3 year old) about it.

  112. It depends on what part of the Valley you’re in. Up my way in the Northeast Valley, we hear “Granada, Granada, Granada.” I’ve known kids who went to Van Nuys, albeit to a different magnet, but they were year round back then and that was never an option.

    Definitely look at the CHOICES book, attend Monroe’s magnet night, and see what clicks with you and your daughter. You’ll get three sessions in the evening, so pick three you think you want to hear more from, and then you can do it again next year. When we went when my son was in 7th and 8th grade, the first year, we went to sessions from Cleveland and Granada, and learned quickly they were the only schools we DIDN’T want him to attend. In 8th grade we attended again, and visited a small magnet with a special class schedule that had just opened. Lo and behold 5 years later, my son’s a graduate of that school and loved every minute of it.

    So use your time to your advantage!

  113. how does one get into a magnet school (i.e. valley alternative) if we have not accumulated any points and are applying from a private school???i have the choice brochure. what next? m

  114. 1) Answer #1 is simple: Fill out the Choices brochure and turn it in by the stated deadline. Nothing you can do to tweak the system.

    2) Answer #2, depending on the grade you’re looking for, starting reading through PARENTS SEEKING SCHOOLS on this website.

    3) Answer #3, come join us and we will explain all at our next Martinis and Magnets, 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 14, at the Largo at the Coronet. (See top post of this website for details.)

  115. i have been in a private jewish elementary school since kindergarten and are now in 8th grade looking to move to charter or public for 9-12. we live in encino/tarzana area and want to know the options and what we need to do. if it is charter like champs do we just fill out an application and hope we get in? what other schools are like that. what is the lottery about??? please advise, tnx

  116. Hey you Magnet Yenta’s – I have a dilema – 2 boys at my ‘home’ LAUSD school, so far so good they are happy (after much fighting with the administration to get them needed help) so we are happy, for the moment.

    1st grader is currently reading at 3rd grade level and doing math at 2nd grade level – hand picked teacher who’s willing to modify his curriculum so he’s not bored to death and tempted to start making a bomb or something, luckily administration agreed and placed him in requested teachers class, she tosses aside his open court books and sets him up with regular chapter books and has him and 2 other kids in the class who are in similar boats do research reports instead.

    3rd grader was struggling in reading last year but is now up to grade level after intensive summer intervention and is a wiz in Math. 3rd grader scored almost perfect score in Math on CST and was officially identified ‘Intellectually Gifted’ by LAUSD psych a few months ago (.1% below ‘Highly Gifted’ on the Ravens).

    I’m near LAX and searching for a Magnet that has great parent involvement but also starts at grade 2 so I could move both boys at once. The other hitch is both boys have IEPs due to Autism (which is now very mild as they’ve had LOT’S of therapy since early ages). Is there such thing as a Gifted Magnet program in LAUSD that also gets ‘twice exceptional’ kids such as mine and appreciates parents who want to be involved at the school?

    We don’t really want to bus or commute but would be willing for the right fit even if it’s a major hike. I’m going to as many open house dog and pony shows as I can manage between now and the due date of the choices brochure but particularly curious if you knowledgeable ladies have a school outside of my comfort zone of freeway driving that I really should consider and check out.

  117. Lois and Sir Paul (#104)

    So, am I getting this right that you are several months into a private preschool and want a mid-year transfer? I would suggest you check out the map on my site and start calling all the reasonably close area schools (Fairburn, Overland, N Sterry) to see if they will take a mid-year open enrollment transfer. Hey, can’t hurt to try. You never know.

    Next, if Brentwood Sci Magnet is in your targets, you have a good chance of getting him in for the fall. Just remember to get your Choices app in by Jan 9th.

    One of the Pacific Palisades Charters is another option to try to lottery into for the fall, but you only get to apply to one of “The Ring of Five.” Canyon and Kenter are nearly impossible odds. Better to try for Pali or Marquez. Put your out-of-area permit request in with everyone else between Feb and mid-Mar and cross your fingers. Doesn’t come with transpo though. You’ll be commuting if you do get in.

    I’d wait on the GATE testing until you dock in a public school and see how he does, and for all the other reasons stated previously. Usually kids don’t get tested until 1st grade or once you see the results of the CAT/6 at the end of 2nd. Then you can make a more educated school decision based on a longer-view assessment of his personality and interests which haven’t yet surfaced at this ripe young age. If and when Sir Paul is id’d as GATE however, you will have the options of a Gifted Magnet-such as Baldwin Hills or Braddock, a GATE program within the school you are enrolled in (if it exists to any degree) or a move to a designated SAS school (Schools for Advanced Studies).

    Tanya Anton

    Author, “Westside Guide to Public Elementary Schools:
    Navigating Magnets, Charters, Permits & More” (Revised and Updated)

  118. For LAX Mom (#125):

    Unfortunately I’m way up in the North Valley and not familiar with specific gifted magnets down your way (help from other yentas???) but just want to say that with very gifted children, there are high co-morbidity rates of other issues such as ADHD, autism/Aspergers, etc. (I am fascinated by this and really want to know WHY… but I digress.) I have a 2E daughter and several friends have 2E kids.

    My point is — you may not be as unique as you think and most gifted magnets should have some familiarity with these issues and your 2E sons. Be sure when looking at schools to find out who deals with the IEPs at that school (often Assistant Principal) and try to talk to that person. They can tell you about their experience and philosophy in dealing with them, etc. to give you some feel.


  119. I think Rebekka said it best. My kids are gifted/highly gifted and I have friends with kids that are 2e. The key is really to find out who will accept your IEP with the least amount of hassle. While I know they’re all legally obliged to, it’ll be a million times easier if you’re not going in for multitudes of additional meetings.

    As you look for magnets in your area, bring it up specifically. If not on the tour–then definitely mention it after the tour. As to speak to the AP or whomever manages the IEPs.

  120. Re: 124–Is it VBS? If it is, say hi to Cindy the admissions director.

    Champs charter has its own application, and you can apply to as many charters as interest you and your teen.

    You can apply to ONE magnet, and other high schools through Open Enrollment. You can also look to the SAS programs in schools in your area, by looking here:

    Since Monroe Magnet Night is TOMORROW from 6:30 to 8:30, I highly suggest you visit and see what some of the area magnets have to offer. They’ll have the earliest deadline, and then you can start looking at your other options.

  121. 1) Lana / 5/26/04
    2) Kinder in Fall 2009
    3) Melrose/La Brea
    4) Vine St. Elementary (via Melrose Elementary)
    5) Our home school WAS Melrose Elementary until it became a magnet (as of Fall 2009). We called the office and they told us based on our address Vine St. Elementary will now be our home school. Vine St. is not diverse, and is not an option for us. Melrose becomes a Math/Science/Tech magnet K-6 next fall, but we will not have any priority getting into it…
    1/ Do we want to apply to a magnet in it’s first year? What are the drawbacks/benefits?
    2/ Can we protest our reassignment to LAUSD and asked to be rezoned to a more favorable school?
    3/ Should I go to another school’s principal and plead for mercy to allow us in? Open enrollment spots are getting fewer in our area (West Hollywood El./Third St./Gardner).

    Thank you yentas…

  122. Ah, Mika. The benefit of the first year or two of a magnet is that no one is looking at it (or for it) yet! My son chose a magnet in its second year because he liked it, and he got right in, as did nearly everyone on the waiting list. Several years later it’s not so easy into that magnet.

    You can find out how many seats are available for the Vine Magnet. Go to the magnet tour and see what they plan on offering.

    A downside can be that things that are supposed to take year to build (or be created) can take a LOT longer. At the same magnet, a multimedia lab that should have been done by my son’s sophomore year opened in his senior year. So ask a lot of questions, and assume what you see is what you will get–and don’t believe the timelines they promise.

    You aren’t going to be able to protest the rezoning if the school is already on its way to become a magnet. The time to protest would be before they created the magnet. You can ask for open enrollment at other schools, but begging isn’t likely to help. Unfortunately they hear sad stories all the time.

    Definitely, find out what you can about the new magnet. It is cool to be among the first graduating class (or two). My son wouldn’t have asked to go anywhere else.

  123. Hi Yentas,

    I live in Downtown LA and my son is 18 months old. Before everyone starts hyperventilating, I know I have years to think about schools and I’m not that stressed about it (yet). But I had an interesting conversation with the head of the local business improvement district about families downtown. It seems that people get pregnant, they stay downtown until their kids hit 3-4 years old, and then they bolt because they are afraid to send their kids to public school.

    The BID is trying to get a private school to open downtown, but I think that’s silly because a) we already have the Pilgrim School just west of downtown and b) not everyone can afford the Pilgrim School. We can, but I went to public school, I’m very committed to public education and I’d like my son to get the education I’m paying taxes for.

    What I’d like to do is persuade the downtown BID to adopt the local public schools and work to turn them into places that the loft-dwellers would like to send their kids. I really love living downtown and I’d like to stay here if at all possible–without sending my kid to private school. I also want to try to organize the local parenting community to be more vocal about demanding services. What I’m finding is that everyone thinks they’re the only family downtown, and then they’re shocked to discover that there are families all over.

    Any advice you Yentas have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  124. P.S. Our local schools include Ninth Street Elementary and Castelar in Chinatown. Not sure how the zoning works for different parts of downtown.

  125. Hi Li,

    I read your comment about schools downtown. A bunch of parents in Highland Park faced a similar quandry, and we actually got the school district to help us start a new program taht convinced dozens of families to stay in the schools. You can email me at for more info if you want. Good luck! Jessica

  126. Dear Li,

    How thrilling is this–the firey mom, the 18 month-old child, the dream of re-rallying your neighborhood around your local public schools. (PS: And how great for downtown real estate value, for retaining families, and more. . . !)

    If you page down the right side of our little weblog, under schoolfinder (by region), some L.A. moms who have already invented this particular wheelinclude those listed under

    Highland Park (Jessica Garrison at Aldama)
    Miracle Mile (particularly Susan Nickerson at Carthay Center, and Maria von Hartz at Castle Heights)
    Pasadena (
    West Hollywood (Joanne Palmer of West Hollywood)
    Contact information for them is all there, but I’ve started pre-bugging some of them for you.

    Kelly Kane at is also a kind of godmother of this (she and her Westchester parents took on seven schools at once). . .

    You might also bug my personal consilieri Spike Dolomite Ward, goddess of public school art for all kids in the Valley
    A lot of the templates you’re talkiing bout have already been invented, and have been working like gangbusters in various parts of LA. . . Orchestra grant-writing, garden grant-writing, educational foundations, etc. Troll through and, if you like, come visit us at our Burning Moms Gala on Dec. 14 (info at the top of this site).
    How thrilling! What a great idea, whose time has come (particularly in this economy)! Onward!


  127. Wow, you yentas are fast! This is indeed thrilling–I’m so happy I found you guys. I will follow up on all the leads and thanks for the Gala invite–I’ll be there!

  128. I was volunteering at the school today, so I’m late to this conversation, but Li, you’ve gotten GREAT info.

    With an 18-month-old, you have 3-4 years to light those fires and get things moving. Talk to the parents in your area, and get them inspired. It’s easier to write a check and have certain expectations than it is to try to create a school learning community, but in schools where it is done properly there is nothing more satisfying.

    We’re at my daughter’s school through open enrollment and I love what I am able to do to make the school a better place.

  129. Li:

    I just wanted to add that as you are following up on all of the great leads you received, don’t completely overlook your original instincts. The L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce (downtown) has a number of education advocacy efforts underway that those in your BID may not know about and as with any of the ideas to improve local schools, seeking partnerships with business and community resources may make things easier and more satisfying for everyone. I mention this, in part, due to the fact that 9th Street El is listed as having a transiency rate of about 36% which although down from 50% (!) tells us there is significant turnover annually in the families there.

    Bill Ring
    Candidate, LA City Board of Education, District #4

  130. Hey LAX Mom, (#125)

    Take a look at Braddock Dr Gifted/High Ability Magnet…it’s a small (one class per grade) but lovely gifted program within the school. Talk to Joyce McClure, their Magnet Coordinator, or Deborah Brandy, the Principal. I‘d also suggest you look at Open Charter Magnet—not a gifted magnet per se, but has deeper project-based co-constructivist leanings. Baldwin Hills is another Gifted Magnet in your vicinity to look into. Tour and ask lots of questions.

    Li, (#132)
    I love your activist spirit. Additionally, never underestimate the power of getting out there and forming a local moms yahoo group with regular mommy and me meet ups. I have watched one of our westside online groups start with 4-6 moms and grow to 350! The other local mac-mama of an online group, peachhead, has grown to almost 9000 members in just five years. There’s power in numbers. As families begin to share and bond, the inevitable school discussions come up. Working together with a vision, anything is possible. Good luck!

  131. What can you tell me about Math/Science/Technology elementary and middle school magnets in the Valley? Are they usually housed on the campus of a neighborhood school or are any stand-alone? I am specially thinking Haskell or Lorne for elementary and Frost, Henry, Nobel, or Van Nuys for middle school.

    To tell you more, I have a son with Aspergers who will be in 4th grade for 2009 and excels in science and computers and is SAS. Is a M/S/T a good choice (I am a humanities/liberal arts fan of education, but I also want him motivated, challenged, excelling…and socially, he may fit in with others like himself).

    But I also have a typical daughter who would be starting 2nd grade…so are Haskell or Lorne possibilities for her as a regular school via open enrollment?

    I am going to have to move out of neighborhood of our school and looking for other options. If you know tell me anything about charters CHIME and Our Community School, that would be great…and any advice on valley schools that are sensitive to kids with IEPs and autism spectrum disorders. My son is so high-functioning that his services are being taken away, he has always been in a general education setting, his academics are not adversely affected by his disability (per IEP standards). I always want a smaller setting with hands-on learning, etc. Of course I’d love my kids to attend the impossible-to-get-into Valley Alternative. I apply each year but currently our home school is Woodland Hills Elementary! And the only way to stay in WHES is by SAS permit I believe.

    Thank you for your information and insight!

  132. (#125) Thanks gomama! I actually took the tour at Braddock last week, it’s close by, has small class sizes and it may be a good fit! Do you happen to know what the parent involvement is at that school? I’m scheduled to go to as many tours as I can fit in my schedule between now and the due date and Baldwin Hills is on the list. I’m seeing Brentwood Science Magnet this week, I don’t think it’s a gifted school per se but having the science bent it may be a good place for my boys though it is a bit of a drive, I’m not opposed to going outside of my neighborhood though ideally I’d prefer not to…

  133. Morgan,

    Most Valley magnets are housed on campuses of neighborhood schools (and some even have an SAS thrown in there).

    I’m very active on the GreatSchools parent message boards. The one thing I’ve learned there from parents of children with IEPs is that the idea of which school is best known for X or Y gets thrown out the window. If he’s interested in M/S/T, look for schools, and ask to speak with the person in charge of IEPs (often the assistant principal). Go ahead and take your son on the tours and get his feedback.

    You might want to even talk to the AP at your current school and see what they think would be good fits for your son.

    Regarding your daughter, I checked last year’s open enrollment announcement and Haskell didn’t list any, must Lorne had 20 spots. You can easily call and double check. This year’s open enrollment won’t occur until late April or early May.

    I’ve read the post several times, and what’s not clear is to which part of the Valley you’re considering moving. The NW Valley schools would be different than the SW Valley schools or central Valley or east Valley. Given Valley traffic, I wouldn’t begin to recommend schools in Chatsworth if you’re planning on being in Tujunga nor schools in Van Nuys if you’re going to be in Granada Hills. So if you really have a lot of time, I’d start looking at schools and then focus your move. If your move is imminent, let us know which part you’ll be in and we can start eliminating the distant neighborhoods.

  134. Hi LAX Mom,
    I can’t say specifically what the parent involvement is like at these schools, that’s a question for the magnet coordinators or principals, or even pulling aside any parents you meet at the tours, however, I can tell you that Braddock’s Gifted Magnet has its own parent booster which helps fund extras for the gifted program. Can’t speak to the rest of the school’s parent body involvement. I would expect Open Chtr Magnet to have a high parental involvement, and perhaps less so at Brentwood Sci, but again, these things vary year to year, school to school. Tour and ask for specifics.

    The sad truth is that due to pending budget cuts, parents will be asked to shoulder more and more of the public school burden-both in effort and in funding- or face losing coveted programs. It’s an issue I have no small amount of rage over…but don’t get me on my soapbox. This is Sandra’s channel. I think I’ll go and pour myself a nice bourbon, instead.

    G’ luck!


  135. (#125 back to GoMama) Thanks! Though we could literally skip to Open Charter (it’s 1.5 blocks from the house) FWIW I’ve ruled it out, there is no chance of getting in, we applied for Kinder and 1st and he was #500 or so on the wait list, being white and in the neighborhood it seems is a big disadvantage when applying to OC! Additionally one of my son’s therapist’s mom teaches there and told me it would not be a good fit as they do too much project/workgroup based learning and he’d get too distracted by all the busyness of the classroom. I’ll see what the next few weeks of tours yields but Braddock is tempting just because it seems there is a decent chance of getting in and I can move both boys at once! Thanks for your input!

  136. Hi Yentas, here are the stats;
    Max 07/06/04
    looking for kindergarten for September,2009
    Home school: Toland Way Elementary
    Area: Eagle rock
    My son gets a little intimidated in large chaotic groups of other kids.
    I have heard that Toland Way is not good, but that was a few years ago. Do you know any newer info. regarding this school? I have also heard some good things about Delevan Drive. I was going to try the Arroyo Seco Museum magnet school, and the Los Feliz Charter for the Arts one, and some private schools also. ANY advice would be great, as I am feeling a little overwhelmed. Thanks, Marquetta

  137. Hello dear friend:

    My son(12) who came from Honduras, did star school last march, now he is in 5 grade, he was the child superstar of the month of NOV on Kester, love his teacher, so we are proud, now got on the mail the papers for the magnet program he is great in math and science and love technology.
    My closest school is the van nuys middle school, i may have to move not sure where yet but i do not want to miss the opportunity of getting him in the magnet program, my concern i have hear some rumors about the school With many “trouble kids” he is shy but friendly kids.
    No use to Violence..

    What do u think of Van Nuys Magnet Middle school?
    I would like your suggestions, anothers school in district 2 Public, magnet or with special programs? We know he loves math and technology..

    Please help me!!

  138. 1. Aaron July 04
    2. second semester Pre-k/ early kindergarten
    3. San Fernando Valley /Panorama City
    4. Chase El./ Ranchito Ave. El.

    My son needs more of a challenging curriculum that is technology based. He is very social and enjoys interacting with peers and adults. He is not a behavior problem but we can see that he is easily influenced by the poor behavior of others when he is not stimulated , interested, or the pace of the class is too slow. What schools are nearby that would meet his needs? How long are the waiting lists/ if any?
    Thanks for your help!!

  139. Anna 10/20/1997
    6th grade in September, 2009
    Home School: Webster Middle School
    Area: Rancho Park/West L.A.

    Anna is in 5th grade at an excellent SAS school, in the GATE program. She tested on the border of highly gifted (above 99.5) and can apply to the highly gifted magnet (which is in Tarzana!!!) We only have 8 points (I did not apply in second grade). We will get 4 more for our home school being mostly minority, I believe. Should we use our paltry amount of points towards LACES or try Palms gifted magnet? I don’t really understand the process or the chances of getting into Palms on an SAS permit…. Any advice would be appreciated!

  140. Thanks, Angel, for your time and consideration. It is unclear where in the valley I will move because it will probably depend on which school I think will be a good fit. I like to be neighborhood if possible or not have a long commute. The problems are that my kids’ needs may mean the same school would not be a good fit for both (e.g., Lorne’s M/S/T for my son and regular or open enrollment at Lorne for my daughter). The only reason I was thinking of moving to Northridge/Granada Hills was to be nearer to an M/S/T magnet if my son went (but I would not want my house nor my daughter’s home school to be so far away from my son’s school, so I’d need to find a school over there for my daughter too).

    Ideally I’d like to get on permit at Woodland Hills Elementary to keep my kids there (especially my highly anxious son who is comfortable there and who will be transitioning into a more demanding 4th grade). It could be possible to get an SAS permit (although I fear I will alienate the staff with my IEP demands and they won’t be inclined to keep us there). I do like the West and Northwest Valley (such as Chatsworth, and I have considered open enrollment at Justice Street Elementary). So this is more of my background/motivation, and here are my questions:

    1. Are Haskell and Lorne M/S/T magnets recommended, is one better than the other, do they do a lot of cool hands-on stuff and are the academics seriously demanding/time-consuming (not necessarily a plus if it means hours of homework), do the magnet students feel alienated from the rest of the student body, are the chances pretty good or slim that an applicant gets in? [I just don’t know much about these magnets; any information appreciated]

    2. Do you recommend other elementary schools that could help me determine a neighborhood to move to (or applying via open enrollment, then I can move “adjacent”)? I can’t afford many neighborhoods, and I am thinking the West Valley, the Northwest Valley, and then not farther east than North Hills/West Van Nuys/Encino (so Woodland Hills, West Hills, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Granada Hills, North Hills, West Van Nuys, and less enthused about Tarzana, Reseda, or Encino). I will move during summer, and I just need to know where to look.

    3. And what do we think about Our Community School in North Hills and CHIME Charter in Tarzana?

    Thank you, thank you!

  141. I’d start with a talk to Woodland Hills and their SAS. If your son would be happiest not moving, and your daughter is content there, that’s a large part of the battle.

    If the SAS or open enrollment isn’t an option for both kids to stay at Woodland Hills, then you’ll need to either narrow down your neighborhoods or you’ll be visiting a lot of schools and spending even more time with a realtor. There are really great schools in each of the neighborhoods you listed, but without getting into your housing budget, it’s hard to focus on specific neighborhoods.

    I’m really leery about recommending specific schools for people, because in the end all that matters is your kids’ “fit.” With the added consideration of an IEP and high-functioning autism, I would focus on talking to other families with IEPs at the schools you’re interested in and get their “take” on prospective schools. Clearly, some schools are better than others when dealing with kids with special needs. I don’t have any personal contacts at the schools you’re interested in, so perhaps other parents with information will weigh in.

    Good luck, and Happy Thanksgiving!

  142. Dear Anna (Comment #148),

    Sadly, 12 points will not get you into LACES, highly gifted or not. You could try asking the school directly what their policies are on that, not sure if they allow the highly gifted in through some special highly gifted dispensation. I don’t know about Palms gifted Magnet, I just thought it was a regular magnet. But I’ve heard good things about their Magnet and SAS programs. Good luck!


  143. My child is half South American and half American and I wonder if
    applying one year as “white” and the next year (to a different school)
    as “latino” is something that disqualifies you? Obviously different
    schools have different needs and if my child qualifies for both,
    shouldn’t it b ok to switch depending on the school?

    Thanks for any help.

  144. CHOICES Magazine

    How do I get back on THEIR list and receive both
    the booklet “choices” from LAUSD again? I moved
    and we went to a charter school which we love,
    but I still want to be on their “LIST” and I fell off of
    Pray tell!

  145. I guess you should just call or email them to see if this is an option. The number is: (877) 462-4798

    For this year, walk into a neighborhood public school (they now have the brochures). It comes to every kid in the district (even those currently in magnets), but I wonder if you are still in the district?


  146. You can change “sides” on each year’s application, but once your child gets in to a particular school, you need to be consistent with the box you checked to get into that magnet.

    Make sure you discuss with the coordinator at the school where you’re applying, because they can tell you which group gets in with fewer points, or gets through the waiting list more easily. Some schools it’s a toss up.

    Also, just for clarification, they’re looking at racial desegregation, so you’re looking at choices like “white,” “black,” and “Hispanic.” A white student with South American roots has no advantage over a white student from the Valley.

  147. Re #148: If your home school is Webster and your child is borderline highly gifted, you may be better off permitting to Emerson Middle School’s SAS/IHP program than going for LACES or Palms. Palms does have a gifted magnet, but the Emerson IHP program (Individualized Honors Program) is really better suited for your type of kid. More challenging curriculum in Math and Language Arts (they have IHP classes in both this year) with strong SAS classes for science and social studies. The IHP program is one of only two in LAUSD (along with Walter Reed in the Valley) and it predates magnets etc. The added benefit is you can get in without points.

  148. Yentas,
    My four year old, Eve, will be ready for kindergarten next year. We live in Burbank. Does this mean we are out of the running for all LAUSD magnets and other fun programs? We’re BUSD, you see. Are we stuck in the Burbs for K-12?

  149. Dear Robbie,

    I’m so glad this post came up again–I’ve been lying awake at night (is that how I got TMJ?) thinking about how we never got around to answering this. First of all, remember that LA Unified is the school district parents typically flee from, so how fun is it that you actually have–dare I say it?–LAUSD envy? We Magnet Yentas credit ourselves and only ourselves for that! (Since we draw not a penny even from the $79 million the LAUSD has budgeted for “consultants” this year, we feel luxuriously free to give ourselves at least psychic kudos.)

    There is indeed a hive of active, motivated Burbank public school parents (check out the Burbank page under schoolfinder, and we even recently started a Glendale page–check out the fab immersion kindergarten IN GLENDALE UNIFIED a mom is excited about going to). . . they’re popping up everywhere. My suspicion is there are some cool things going on in Burbank Unified that we don’t yet know about, and there could be more if parents pressed for them.

    Together, wikipedia-style, we can continue to build our admittedly so far not-as-detailed-as-LA “Burbank” page.
    Just a little dream I have.

    In the meantime, SHOUT OUT TO BURBANK UNIFIED!!! Let’s hear you witness!


  150. Sandra,
    You’re so cool … no wonder I’m such a fan. And you hit the nail on the head of course. I’ll keep everyone posted on my Burbank-area climes.

  151. Hi Robbie,

    I think there’s always that “grass is greener” mentality. I hear more parents trying to figure out how to permit into Burbank (or move to Burbank) than lamenting they’re not LAUSD. 🙂

    Hang in there, and let us know what you see/hear. You have everything else in Burbank, so why not great schools, too?

  152. Hi all–

    My son is 9 months old and I’m already freaking out. I live in North Hollywood and my elementary is Coldwater Canyon Elementary. We are asian and I’m shocked to see that they only have 11 asian students. I’m even more horrified when I look at their test scores. I’ve read alot of info but am still confused. Does my son have to go to Kindergarten at Coldwater Canyon in order to apply to a magnet school? Or can I put him in Laurel Hall while I wait for him to get into a magnet? What are my options? Is the December 14th gathering a magnets and martinis event going to cover this stuff? Thanks!

  153. Hello Sandra and Magnet Yentas! I am ON FIRE! Thank you for being here!!!
    We are postal address Burbank but technically Sun Valley, so LAUSD school system. (ARGH! MIssed Burbank by mere blocks!)
    My local school is Glenwood El and mostly ESL, so I am going crazy trying to find a better Kindergarten for my 4 year old daughter Junebug (8/5/04)… (We were trying to move into Burbank proper, but cannot afford it now.)
    Here is my crazy plan:
    Apply to Valley Alt. (but dread drive to Van Nuys in traffic every day and lament lack of sports teams
    Apply Open Enrollment to Apperson, Mountain View, Sherman Oaks El and Riverside El
    Applied to Laurel Hall
    Applying to Oakwood (See? I am TOTALLY INSANE!) and praying to the Universe for financial aid (A girl can dream, can’t she?)
    Have I missed anything? Should I try and permit into Burbank? I know about the Glendale Kinder immersions but is not for us.
    Any reassurance, advice, words of wisdom and/or sanity would be lovely.
    Thank You!!!!!!

  154. Hi Tien,

    You do not have to attend your neighborhood school to be eligible for a magnet. Many parents use private kindergarten since most magnets don’t start until first grade.

    Your best bet will be to attend the Martinis and Magnets live on the 14th because I promise we’ll cover all of it, and I’ll keep covering it until you’re comfortable with it 🙂

  155. Hi Ashlynn!

    The likelihood isn’t great that you’ll get into Valley Alternative given the applications to openings ratio, so don’t fret about the drive. However if you were to get in, you would be hard pressed to change magnets later, since you can’t accrue points for matriculation or wait lists, so if your daughter did get in, you’d want to weigh the pros versus the cons carefully.

    Regarding SAS, make sure your daughter qualifies before applying SAS. Ways to qualify are listed here: Make sure they take kindergarten, and what qualifications you can get in kindergarten before the applications are due.

    It wouldn’t hurt to contact the closest Burbank elementary or the district itself and see what programs they have for permits. California state law allows students to attend a school near the parents place of employment providing the school has space. Of course, the caveat is you’d have to work in Burbank and the school would have to have room.

    I’m useless when discussing private schools, so the Yentas who know more will have to help you out there.

    What I like about your plan is it’s do-able, it’s realistic, and you have a plan. Get the extra info where you need a little clarification, and keep a notebook. It doesn’t have to be fancy (I carry spiral notebooks where ever I go on school-related stuff), and when you do tours, write down a very simple list of everything you LIKE and DISLIKE about a school. I mean everything. After several schools they all start to blur together in your head. And even if you didn’t like the layout of buildings or if you thought the PTA presentation was a little over the top, make notes. It’ll definitely help you make a decision down the road when those acceptances come in.

    Good luck!

  156. Dear Magnet Yentas,
    I already have two children in magnet schools (Lorne St. and Nobel in Northridge). My oldest is currently in a private middle school and is moving on to high school. He is a bright, math science kind of guy who wants to be an engineer and plays a mean alto saxophone… Did I mention that he also loves sports. We live in Lake Balboa/Van Nuys but are willing to travel for a great school.
    Q1. What schools would you recommend for a child with such diverse interests?
    Q2. Can I fill in the sibling section of the application if applying for a different magnet school than where my other two children attend?



  157. Hi! My daughter will be attending kindgergarten in the Fall 2009. We live in West Hollywood, zone school is Laurel El. I’m looking at the Magnets and wondering if there are any parents in the neighborhood who are sending their child to Community Magnet Charter School. Curious to know how bad is the transportation from where I am. Thanks.

  158. 1) First name and birthdate of your child: Sofia, 3/23/04
    2) What grade of school you’re seeking: Kindergarten
    3) What part of Los Angeles you’re in: Mid Wilshire / Carthay Circle
    4) What your local public school is: Carthay Elementary School
    5) Extenuating circumstances that may apply: Looking for a school with a non-traditional teaching approach, ie – my daughter is active and while she seems to be bright I think she needs more of an active learning environment.

    Thanks so much for any thoughts and suggestions!

  159. Hi Tanya (comment 165),

    Anytime I hear about a kid with diverse interests that are going to require a lot of scheduling options, I say go with one of the larger high schools. You’re right around the corner from Van Nuys High School, so I wonder if you’ve taken the tours there? They have the Math/Science magnet (and the Medical magnet) and he’d have access to music and sports (although if he’s talking about marching band, there will be some limit on how much of each he can do in each semester).

    It’s easy to mention Hamilton for focusing on the music or Granada for the Math/Science AND the band, but I wouldn’t rule out the choice in your backyard. After reading Van Nuys Math/Science explanation, I would want to check that one out (the access to Valley College will prove invaluable from sophomore year on).

    Sadly, the only time sibling points come into play is when one sibling is currently attending a school and another sibling applies to the same school. So unless the youngest is nearing middle school or the middle one is also ready for high school, you won’t need to fill that out.

  160. Belated reply for Marquetta (Comment #145),

    Sorry your question seems to have fallen through the cracks for a minute–

    Regarding Toland Way “having been good” and now rumored to be “not so good,” at a certain point it behooves you as a parent to simply visit a school and decide if it’s all right (and then post a report for us, will you?). Don’t worry a fig about vague rumors passed worriedly about, based on gauzy sources. In point of fact, we’ve found, academically speaking, most LAUSD elementaries are actually. . . quite. . . fine. (Since Roy Romer, the curriculum has become standardized and effective in terms of teaching reading and math.) All those other touchy-feeling bells and whistles (choral music, gardens, attractive front office, attractive fellow parents) are parent-subjective and hence up to you to decide on.

    In the meantime, our friend super mom/PTA president Danelle Stockdale (PTA president) writes in, re: your query about her school:

    “Delevan says they “are not” open enrollment, but most parents get in by just applying. I can help advise. Feel free to put her directly in touch with me either by phone or email. My cell is 213-999-0808.

    “Delevan has a high API, great parental involvement. strong teachers, and community support.”

    I must say I love the way Dani included her cell number.

    Final reminder: Visit the elementaries, and if they seem all right to you, they’re all right!!!


  161. Thank you so much for this wonderful site!

    We live in Eagle Rock and my son, Axel, is in kindergarten at Dahlia Hts. Despite the mostly great things we heard about the school beforehand, we’ve been somewhat underwhelmed. I know that our neighborhood has a gifted magnet program that begins in 3rd grade and hopefully that will be an option for us in the future. In the meantime, we are considering the M/S/T magnet program at Buchanan. Thoughts?

  162. I can’t speak for either magnet as they’re somewhat outside my locale, but one thing to ask the current school’s magnet is how many points it will typically take to get into the gifted magnet. If you were to get into the M/S/T magnet for first grade, you would not get any wait or matriculation points to get back to your home school’s magnet. You’d be left with either 8, 4, or none.

    So if you see the M/S/T magnet at Buchanan as a real option, it would likely need to be a permanent option. Is what you’re feeling at Dahlia Hts. something that could be cured with a little spit and polish or you really want the change of scenery that a new school would provide?

  163. Hi all!

    I stumbled across this blog looking for other education options for my daughter, now 7 and in 2nd grade. We are in an arts charter, but there’s lots of drama, a general lack of concern for strong academics (like, what happened to the good ol’ spelling test?) and I want to be sure that we have a back-up plan in the event that the school can’t secure a location of it’s own (or through Prop 39). MAGNET popped up in my search.

    I am totally new to the whole realm of “points” and such…so that said, you will have to forgive my ignorance if I ask a really stupid question.

    I would like to get a recommendation for a well-balanced arts program (by well-balanced I mean: they actually believe in seeing to it that the kids can spell and do math), close to our home (Glassell Park) that is also diverse. My daughter is korean, mexican, philipina, white and tunisian(black & arabic)…so she’d fit into practically any category…but we really want a diverse school…which we do not currently have.

    So…any ideas on where/how to get started?

  164. Dear Rhonda,

    Shocking as it may seem, many garden variety (aka: non-magnet) LAUSD elementaries boast all four disciplines of art (visual, drama, dance, music) due to the fact that most are by now are “arts program” schools (I believe the goal was that by 2010 ALL elementaries would be) (who knows how the new CA budget will shake out, but we’ll panic when told). And of course, in a regular LAUSD school, kids get spelling training up the ying yang. I have been shocked by poking my nose into Title One Van Nuys LAUSD elementaries and seeing orchestras in there. . . You should actually just visit each school one by one. A great champion of the arts (particularly theatre) within LAUSD has been Robin Lithgow (my e-mail guess from memory, who may have a more specific bead on what’s going on school by school.

    If by “diverse” you mean brown, and quite a lot of brown, pretty much any LAUSD school you can get into will work!

    If trolling through this website doesn’t explain points to your satisfaction, come visit us at Martinis and Magnets Sunday, Dec. 14, 6:30 p.m., Largo at the Coronet. (See first post on this website.)


  165. Dear Yentas,

    Our two sons, let’s call them Mozart (born October 1998) and Einstein (born September 2000), are currently in 4th and 2nd grade in a private school, but with the economy the way it is it’s likely that we will make a change. I’ve never (yet) accumulated any magnet points. We live in Brookside and our local school is Wilshire Crest. Extenuating circumstances: nothing ethnically exotic…but Mozart is already composing his own works on piano, and Einstein is a year or two ahead in every academic subject.

    1. Is there any chance that either of them can EVER get into any magnet school?
    2. Any chance before high school?
    3. If it’s even possible to get in considering the slew of people with zillions of *points*, any ideas? Hamilton, and perhaps Millikan, have been recommended for Mozart. And New Los Angeles – middle school – is right up our family values alley, so maybe that for Einstein? But are there more choices, that would still be realistic given that this is the first year we will apply?


  166. Hi Amy,

    If it’s any consolation, there are quite a few parents affiliated with private schools who are in the same boat, and private schools that are attempting to make contingency plans because of the economy.

    The simple answers are yes, yes, and yes. It’s a lottery system and someone wins (gets in) for each slot available. While more people apply than can get in, it is a lottery system where you can increase your odds, which I can’t say for the CA lottery. For this year, you’d be looking at 3rd and 5th grade. While it’s not terribly likely you’d get into a magnet this year (fifth grade isn’t a start year for anyone), you’ll have at least a few points if you plan. When your son reaches sixth grade, there will be more possiblities.

    In terms of realistic or likelier choices, look at the Choices brochure and see which schools have better acceptance ratios. Look also at new magnets. Without the buzz of hundreds of clamouring parents, these schools won’t know how many will apply, but there won’t be nearly as many as there will be years from now.

    In addition, aside from magnets, make yourself comfortable with both the SAS schools (Schools for Advanced Studies located here on the LAUSD website in your area and the open enrollment slots at nearby schools (by looking at the archived announcements on the LAUSD website–if you need help, just holler).

    I’ll let the people more familiar with your area talk specifics, because I’m pretty Valley-centric. The trick is to be patient and realistic, and you and your kids will do fine.

  167. Amy,

    1. The only way to accumulate magnet points is to just start applying.
    Its a lottery–anything can happen, even the first time applying–but it won’t if you don’t apply.
    2. See above. If one child gets into a magnet, the other will have a 3 pt sibling edge (to the same school) the following year. Start applying this year. For both of them.
    3. Magnets aren’t the only option. Have you toured your home school? What about any nearby charters—that’s a separate lottery? Or a permit request into another area school?
    4. You are not the only parent with an einstein or a mozart. Many of them go to regular public schools, believe it or not, even non-magnet public schools. (shock!) You really might be surprised.
    5. To apply to a gifted magnet coming from a private school (or a charter), you need to get an LAUSD verification form by calling the Gifted and Talented Program Office: 213.241.6500 and they will forward the form to your child’s current school. Contact your current school to give them permission to release the required information to the Gifted and Talented Office. It is your responsibility to do all this and confirm receipt of the verification form with the Gifted and Talented Programs Office PRIOR to the Choices deadline—this year it is Friday January 9th, 5p.
    6. If you can’t accomplish above process by the due date, go ahead and apply to a highly competitive Magnet school, and if you don’t get in, you’ll at least start accumulating waitlist points. Note: Magnet points won’t help you a bit to get into a charter. (such as New LA MS) There’s a separate lottery per each charter school.
    7. caveat: not all magnet schools are the holy grail. Do your research and tour. Some local public schools and charters actually out-perform magnet schools, which vary drastically from school to school.

    Good luck!

    Tanya Anton
    Author, “Westside Guide to Public Elementary Schools:
    Navigating Magnets, Charters, Permits & More” (Revised and Updated)

  168. I have to choose between applying to Hamilton High Humanities Magnet and Venice FL Magnet. We are in the Venice school district. My son is finishing up in the honors SAS program at Palms and was planning on taking ap classes at Venice if we can’t get magnet status. His interest is in English and History though his real strength is Math. Any suggestions? I am not worried about turning anything down and losing points bc his next venture will be college and unless they’ve figured out a magnet system for that I’m good (aside from the pesky ol’ admissions process, YIPES! which makes magnet points seem like a godsend).

  169. I don’t know a thing about Venice, but know that Hami Humanities is EXCELLENT. Can’t imagine doing better, if your son is truly interested in english and history. I know he can take AP math classes at Hamilton.

    Hamilton Mom

  170. R. Voris,

    A kid can’t go wrong with a strong background in English and History. And even in a case where there weren’t enough math options, he can take those classes at the community college. For that matter, my son took two years of Japanese at the junior college since his high school didn’t offer it.

    But check out both campuses with your son and see which one seems more agreeable to you both. Apply and go from there.

  171. R. Voris (#177),

    I am very familiar with both Venice (son graduated in June ’07) and Hamilton (daughter is a senior this year). I chose to send them to different schools because they each had different needs and interests. Both schools have magnet programs – Venice (foreign language) and Hamilton (desirable Humanities magnet and the sought-after Music Academy). Venice has a new principal and lots of long-time teachers who have been retiring at an alarming rate. Venice’s legacy is its very strong math and science departments (long-time science bowl winners) but many of the teachers responsible for the school’s reputation have left…and so has the school’s outstanding college counselor. Concurrent enrollment at Santa Monica College (SMC) is a popular option for motivated students and SMC has an outreach program to the school. Caution: Venice does offer many AP courses but please make sure the teacher that your child has is fully qualified to teach a particular AP course (ask me how I know). Hint: meet with the department chair BEFORE enrolling. My son did well at Venice but if you should discover that your child is not challenged, you will have to run interference. In any case, get to know your child’s counselor well but be sensitive – these folks are overwhelmed. It can be invaluable to have a good relationship with one.

    When my son attended the magnet at Palms, most of his classmates attended Venice. I know the magnet at Venice is still popular with many Palms parents but at the Palms MS High School Info Night at which I spoke last year, there were lots of families interested in the different programs at Hamilton.

    I’d suggest asking about the Schools for Advanced Studies (SAS) program at Venice..and getting specific details. During my years there, although the school had a brochure promoting SAS, I don’t think I ever spoke to a parent with a child enrolled in it.

    My daughter has had a wonderful experience at Hamilton (not Humanities but the Music Academy so I cannot speak authentically to your question). She has had some excellent English and History teachers but was not as well prepared or supported by her math teachers (some of us share these insights with incoming parents at Hami’s orientation each year). Academically speaking, I think she has had a more enjoyable experience at Hamilton over her nearly four years there than my son had at Venice but perhaps that’s an unfair statement (she’s taking high school more seriously than he did). Hamilton’s leadership seems to me to be working to improve as opposed to Venice which I sense is resting on its magnet’s reputation. Oh… and the general consensus is that Hamilton’s college counselor is of very little help.

    For what it’s worth, Hamilton’s Humanities Magnet students did well in English Language Arts portion of the California Standards Test (CST): 90% of the students tested in 2007-08 ranked proficient or advanced compared with 78% of the magnet students at Venice. The mathematics stat is more sobering, however: 28% of the Humanities Magnet students tested proficient of advanced compared with 60% of the Venice magnet students.

    I can share additional insights if you like or point you to some other current Venice and Hamilton parents; like Angel before me, I suggest you both tour the schools…and yes, it’s not a bad idea to save some of those martinis for the college application process.

    Bill Ring

  172. Hi Yentas,
    I have two kids (ages 4 & 2) in preschool now & am looking at kindergartens for my 4 year old (she has an August bday). We live in the Hancock Park area & our public elementary school is good (Third Street Elementary), but our middle & high schools are not so good (John Burroughs & LA High). I know it might sound crazy to be thinking that far in advance, but I am worried that if I send them to Third St., I’m going to be panicking when they are in 5th grade. It seems a lot of private schools are 7-12th grade, or K-12 but accept more applicants in 7th grade. 6th grade seems to be a black hole. I’d love to go the public route after 5th grade, but you can’t really count on a magnet acceptance. I’d love to save the $$$ & avoid private school, but am worried. Any advice??

    Also, is it too soon to start collecting magnet points for middle school?? From what I understand, you can only get points by being rejected for 3 consecutive years, so I should start applying to magnets in 2nd grade?

    Thank you!!!


    • Hey Nancy, Did you ever figure out what to do for 6th grade in Hancock Park? My wife and I are also “long term planners:) and although our daughter won’t be going to school for several years are already wondering what those of us in 90004 do after our time at Third Street? Private HS is likely but they seem to all begin in 7th grade. Any help is greatly appreciated!

  173. Dear Nancy,

    Other Yentas will chime in with more helpful info, but why don’t you join the revolution and learn how to help MAKE junior and high school “good”? Your kids are young enough, they’ve got a great elementary, you have the luxury of time and smarts to look ahead. If Hancock Park parents organized and educated themselves about how public education works, and how it can be changed, on a local level, oh the millions of dollars hurled into private school that would be saved. (You could take your entire family to France for the summer!) In the meantime, I’m copying your e-mail to my mom friend Susan Nickerson (charter middle school expert, who has started to go down that road). . .

    Sorry to snap my cap today, but among today’s parents there is too much vague, balloony fear about what may happen 10 years down the road and not enough grit, action and know-how. There is great untapped power among the parents in your neighborhood if you start working together (and not seeing yourselves and your kids in competition, that’s the rub).

    Now that I’ve said my piece, more info will follow. . .


  174. Hi Sandra, thanks for the great advice. I spoke to the Principal at Toland Way, and asked the front office for a tour, and they didn’t really know what to say to me, they were kind of giggling! It was like no parent ever asked for a tour before, how fancy of me. Also, this probably sounds stupid, but I have to put it out there. My son is 75% Mexican, but he is blonde with blue eyes, and the school has no Anglos right now, they have no African Americans, I think 2 Asians, and the rest is Hispanic. So my son would be like the only “white” kid. I would love there to be more of a mix, is this completely unrealistic? I am aware of the demographics of our neighborhood, but I thought things were changing a little. Also, do you have the e-mail address of the President of the PTA at Delevan who also commented, I don’t want to bug her on her cell? Thank you so much for your time, Marquetta

  175. Dear Marquetta,

    First of all, isn’t it nice that we posted Danelle’s cell and you’re too polite to call her? Dani’s e-mail: (it’s posted under our SCHOOLFINDER/EAGLE ROCK page).

    PS: Clearly, I was asleep earlier as forgot to also suggest the fab new Aldama Elementary bi-lingual immersion (check out SCHOOLFINDER/HIGHLAND PARK page) and the highly-recommended Plasencia Math/Science magnet, which an enthusiastic parent just recommended to us. . . Let’s see if I can find the comment. . . (PS: We’ll have CHOICES brochures on Sunday at Martinis and Magnets)

    And yes, Marquetta, thanks for being candid. . . and for going to your school! Surprise at the notion of a “tour”–a fairly common LAUSD elementary experience. . . As well as the demographic “mix,” or apparent lack of. . .


  176. PS:

    Plasencia Magnet rave is by Kathy, comment under SCHOOLFINDER/ECHO PARK. In fact, Marquetta, you might troll through some of those neighborhood SCHOOLFINDER pages (Highland Park, Echo Park, Eagle Rock) for other ideas. . .

  177. Dear Yentas,

    I am new to the magnet/charter school world. My son is currently in kindergarten in a private school. We’d like to explore the possibility of a magnet or a charter. Our school of residence is Atwater Elementary. We’re willing to drive, we’d like a diverse, bohemian population. The only extenuating circumstance is that our little boy is extremely sensitive and shy – not much of a “male pecking order” player. We are looking for a setting that will support social skills and conflict resolution. I appreciate any info you can pass this way. Thanks!

  178. Dear Yentas,

    I’ m interested to enroll my son in a Magnet/Charter school.

    His name is Edwin Amaya, will be tuning 12 on February 24, 2009 and will be entering the 7th grade. He has been a part of the GATE program for the last 3 years and has been a part of the Algebra camp. He has high scores on his Algebra/Math exams and he is also interested in music.

    I have contacted a couple of schools and I’ve been informed of a very long waiting list. I hope to hear form you soon.

    Thank you
    Lenytt Siliezar

  179. Dear Lesa (Comment #186),

    A couple of recommendations. . .

    1) Our pal Tanya Anton (Go Mama Guides) is hosting one of her get-acquainted-with-LAUSD events on Jan. 4 (it’ll be on the Westside, but you said you could drive!). . . e-mail her for more the coordinates at:

    2) The California charter school website is actually parent-friendly. . . Check it out at, for charter schools in your neighborhood, of which there are several. . .

    3) The issue with charter schools is there are typically wait lists. Franklin Elementary isn’t far from you, it’s definitely diverse and bohemian. . . Is there open enrollment perhaps? Go to, on pull down menu: FIND A SCHOOL, call them.

    4) Don’t be overly afraid of public school (although we know some private schools encourage that, to keep those tuition dollars coming). There are shy boys everywhere, and all the LAUSD schools we have our kids in (both magnet and regular) DISCOURAGE bullying and ENCOURAGE peaceful conflict resolution, although they may not use that particular fancy term.

    Don’t hesitate to write us again if you have more questions, and DO e-mail Tanya, she’ll take care of ya!


  180. Lenytt (#187):

    Getting into a magnet for 7th grade (as opposed to 6th, the normal entry year for middle school) can be pretty difficult. Most of the available slots are filled by the 6th grade entering class so the only openings for 7th and 8th are if families move, disenroll, etc. You also have to play the normal Magnet Game of earning points and applying through the CHOICES Brochure for the one magnet you would like to attend. I am not discouraging you from applying — definitely do! — but be sure you have a backup plan. A full list of gifted and math/science/tech magnets is in the CHOICES brochure but some good ones I’ve heard about in the SFV include Lawrence Gifted MS in Chatsworth, Porter Gifted MS in Granada Hills, Sepulveda Gifted MS in North Hills, and Nobel Math/Science MS Magnet in Northridge. These are mostly in the north Valley, not sure where you are located.

    As for other options — you should also explore SAS (Schools for Advanced Studies) programs. Some schools provide gifted clustering in SAS programs. You apply directly to each school; stop in their offices and ask about the procedure and available spots for next year. The list of middle schools with SAS programs can be found at the LAUSD website — search under Gifted and then click top result and go to SAS — but some of the ones I’ve heard positive things about include Reed, Millikan, Holmes, Lawrence, and Sepulveda.

    As for Charters, the roster for Charter schools can be found on the LAUSD website (Search “Charter School” – Click the top result and see “Roster” in the left menu). Don’t know a lot of specifics about charters but have heard good things about CHIME Charter MS in Chatsworth (though it may be more humanities based than math for your son).

    Other yentas may know more specifics in other geographic areas… explore your options. Apply for a magnet through CHOICES by January 9th, then also apply for SAS and/or Charter schools through those separate application processes. Good luck!

  181. Hi Lenytt,

    What Rebekka said. 🙂 In all seriousness, magnet enrollment might be a long shot for seventh grade. But apply, and then you’ll have to physically go in to be placed on the waiting lists if you don’t get him in to your first choice. While it’s a long shot, you only need one spot, and if you have nerves of steel, you could get that call as late as the first week of school next year.

    Your neighborhood school might automatically allow you to enter their SAS, but not knowing if you have an SAS at your home school, we can’t be of much help there. Frost and Nobel automatically enroll their gifted kids in the SAS, so if your son has been in gifted, he’d automatically be eligible. If your neighborhood school doesn’t have a School for Advanced Studies, you can apply to as many local SAS schools as you’d like. If you’re willing to drive, apply away.

    Here’s another link for charters that I like:

    Let us know a little more info and we’ll be happy to try to help you.

  182. My granddaughter is mixed asian/white and applying for first grade at Balboa Gifted Elementary. Are her chances better as a “white” applicant?


    Interfering Grandpa

  183. Hi Interfering Grandpa,

    Hopefully your granddaughter’s parents asked at the Balboa Magnet tours in December how many points it typically takes to get in as a first grader. Several years ago when my daughter applied as a first grader, she got in with 8.

    Schools are either a 70-30 ratio or 60-40 ratio minority to white. In some schools, it takes more points to get in as a minority, and other schools it takes more to get in as white. Keep in mind that LAUSD is 90% minority, so conventional wisdom is going to say declaring white makes it easier. However, it’s more common for white families to ask for gifted testing early and to know about the magnets before the schools typically test in second grade, so it’s possible that being minority makes it easier. The district does NOT differentiate between minorities, so an Asian kid has the same likelihood as a Hispanic, Black, or “Other.”

    So while you might feel you’re “interfering,” you could ask your adult child if they asked those questions so they’re fully aware of the challenges of getting into Balboa as a first grader or not. But there are 60 kids who get in every year, and maybe they’re just feeling lucky?

  184. dear magnet yentas,

    if you graduate from a mag. elementary school and get your 12 points,
    can you save them for high school if you don’t go to a magnet middle school?
    i’m trying to make the decision to apply my daughter to a magnet middle
    school that i’m not sure about or do nothing.

  185. Hi Miri,

    The Choices brochure is pretty clear on matriculation points: THESE POINTS DO NOT CARRY OVER AND ARE ASSIGNED FOR ONE YEAR ONLY AT THE TIME OF MATRICULATION (their caps and bold, not mine).

    So if you are worried about high school points, either apply and get into a middle school magnet, or apply and keep getting rejected throughout middle school (in fifth, sixth and seventh for use during the eighth grade magnet cycle).

  186. Hello. My little boy will be starting kindergarden in the fall. We’re over in Echo Park and live right across the street from our designated elementary school – Logan. Unfortunately, as we can see from our window, it’s not a great school. Right now, he’s doing great at a local montessori school that goes until 3rd or 4th grade.

    1. Anybody have any insight into any of the near-by public schools and open enrollment? Elysian Heights, Clifford, Micheltorena, Allesandro, or Mayberry.
    2. Would it be a good idea to go ahead and apply for a magnet school, even if we’re not sure that’s the way we want to go, so we start getting points for sometime down the road? (We should start with 4 points because of Logan.) What if we apply and, surprise surprise, get in? What are the penalties for not going?
    3. And kindergarden magnets seem few and far between. Is that right, or am I just not looking in the right place?

  187. Dear Doug (Comment #195),

    Check out the SCHOOLFINDER/Echo Park section. Micheltorena has some very active parents who are partnering with the staff to do great things at that school (new science lab, etc.), and we’ve heard positive buzz about Elysian Heights and Mayberry. Check out the nearby neighborhood pages as well (such as HIGHLAND PARK). In that particular area of L.A., as with so many, English-speaking parents are often looking for the comfort of finding other English-speaking parents rather than only English-LEARNING parents. Understandable, and part of the ever-evolving new blend.

    Sure, applying for magnet school is free and easy (you have until Jan. 9), and try Valley Alternative Magnet (K-12). And if you get in, we’ll draft you into the PTA.


  188. # 183. My ½ Irish ½ Mexican daughter is “white” (7/8 of European, 1/8 original people of Mexico). She has black hair, light brown eyes and fair skinned during the winter but tans very nicely during the summer. I can think of about 12 “Hispanic” (all Mexican for what every that is worth) kids at her 87.8% Hispanic Latino School who are blonde with blue eyes. And guess what? THE KIDS DON’T CARE!!! what color hair or eyes their fellow students have (well except for the luckily kids with parents that let them dye their hair pink, blue and/or green).
    At least in grade school, issues about race and skin color are issues for parents not kids.

    Over the last few years, I have meet and worked with many Toland Way parents (I was a member of the Local Dist 4 title one and gifted parents committees). I have heard some complaints about the principal. I don’t know if the same principal is still there or not. If yes, I would advise you to work with other parents to have that principal removed (It can be done, with the help of local dist 4, we removed a bad principal 2 years ago and now have a GREAT one)

  189. Hi Doug,
    I am the chair of the Micheltorena Booster group, a member of out PTA, and on the Library and History committees as well. Needless to say, I am very happy with and boastfully about our Sunset Junction/ Silver Lake school, keep that in mind as you read why I believe your family should choose our school.

    Logen- I hate to spread rumors about any school, but I too have heard some less then positive things about Logan. Most of these reports are from the few parents I know who have cosine to send their children to Micheltorena instead of Logan as well as from a few parents still at Logan. Regrettable most of the completes’ come from parents with limited English skills and I speak no Spanish. I would recommend you visit the school.

    Elysian Heights: way improving test scores “divers” student body and a student’s garden. Small school which could be good: fewer students for the principal to get to know, less stress for children who are freaked by big crowds, and bad- more chance for ”split grades” less chance for students who are “different” (like a girl who hates Hanna Montana and all the other girls love HM or the boy who is way into Sci-Fi comic books and the other boys love sports) to find a social group. And fewer kids in gifted, band ect.
    And I do know one mom who tock her son out of E.H. because she felt the principal at that time (this was 4 years ago) did not welcome parent involvement in the way this mom wanted to be involved.

    Clifford: I know a few parents at Cliffiord and they all LOVE it. A very small school (see notes about on my views on small vs. big schools). Due to how small it is, every year they are threaded with closer OR being turned in to a middle school. I also know of a small group of to be Micheltorena parents who are planning on “storming and taking over” Cliffiord. (Note: don’t go into a school and say “we are here to fix this failing school” or “we are here to make this school a school the middle class neighbors can send their kids to”. This will do nothing but get you the cold ostracized by the already active parents. And these parents have POWER. Just be cool and don’t assume that all LAUSD schools that are not 40% white are all “bad”)

    Allesandro- I have no info on this school, but it is RIGHT UNDER a freeway.

    Mayberry- I have met some very active parents who love this school. I also know a teacher who’s stepchildren (these kids do not live with her) go to this school and this teacher/ step parent does not like the school. Mayberry is a very nice campus, lots of new stuff and great murals. I have found many of the white parents from Mayberry are in a “cult of fear” about middle school and the out side world (Note- this may or may not be justified, I like King Middle and look forward to sending my daughter there in a few years, but base don test scores, I can see why some parent are fearful). What surprises me is that so few of the fearfully parent shave visited King or even know a King family.

    Micheltorena- OK, I love our school; the parents, students, teachers and admin. I will not say all the teachers are great (a few are less then good, but we can talk about that some other time if and when we every meet), but we have at least ½ dozen teaches who are OUTSTANDING!!!!. And we have a great principal and assistant principal. Our students are cool, funny and really divers, both in ethnicity and personality. With a student body of about 400, everyone can find a place to fit in. We have new science labs, a new kinder playground, we will have e a new 1- 6th grade playground structure by fall 2009 and are in the final stages of finding out if we will get a Wonder of Reading Library. We have instrumental and vocal music, a nurse 3 days a week, FREE before AND after school child care (not just babysitting but enrichment) our test scores are in the high 700, we have a great gifted program. For parent involvement we have a booster group (friends of Micheltorena Street School) a PTA, a Title one parent committee, a ELS parent committee, a School Site Council, a library committee, a History Committee and a Local Leadership Committee. All these committee’s have parents, community, teachers, staff and administration on them. And we do not have that Cult of Fear among the parents.
    We do have a few problems- The cafeteria food sucks, the building is old and at any given time a toilet or drinking fountain may not work. Most parent meetings will be in Spanish with English translation.

    Need more info? My email and the principals email is she will get back to you right away (but being that this is winter break, give her until school starts back up in January)

  190. My son is 12 yrs old and is currently in 6th grade attending a magnet program. By the time he’s ready to enter 9th grade, his brother will be in 12th over at Granada Hills. He’ll be able to get the siblings points plus the 12 points for graduating from his magnet school, which means a very good chance of getting into Granada HS. I think that he would do better at a smaller school, he has a learning disability and an IEP. What do you think are my chances of getting him into SOCESS?

  191. Bryce is 4.5 years old, white, and attending Playhouse preschool in northridge, which is awesome for those of you who are looking. We are located in reseda and want to send Bryce to a better school than our local school Blythe Street… (rated a 3 on and on the “list”). He can already read (beginning phonics books), write and do beginning math. I dont want to apply to Valley Alternative because i want to apply to Balboa Magnet or Vintage for first grade. I also need afterschool care probably. Do i go ahead and apply to balboa magnet now? I know, i havent turned in my application yet, but i am going to hand carry it! If i do apply to balboa, since he is only 5 in june and will obviously be turned down for first grade (although i think he can handle it) will i still get points? If i apply to balboa, how can i get him somewhere else better in the interim? do i mortgage the house and pay for private school, or mark (PSC) since i just want to change schools? I dont think i am poor enough and my kid is smart… i dont have enough to get a better house outside reseda! Please help…btw awesome website!

    Karen Taylor

  192. Hi Angela,

    To be sure, contact the magnet coordinator at SOCES and find out how many students they accept in ninth grade and how many points those students had; it’s not likely to be many kids and it’s likely they had 20 or 16. Most students are accepted at the first grade level the school has openings for. At SOCES, that’s fourth grade.

    You would have 12 matriculation points, but not choosing Granada, your son won’t have sibling points by applying to SOCES. You’re right to think this far ahead and start planning for your son’s unique needs, so perhaps ask to tour SOCES and other schools during Open House next year. There are smaller high schools in the Valley that may be as good a fit if not better than SOCES. Talk to the magnet coordinator at his current school and ask him or her to ask around. They do help with these decisions. Good luck!

  193. Hi Karen.

    You can actually apply to Valley Alternative this year and hope (like many) that you don’t get in. Next year, you could apply to Balboa or Vintage. By applying for a grade level he’s not eligible for and hasn’t been tested for giftedness by the district, your application will likely be rejected–and there are no points for that.

    Also I know you’re eager, but you really don’t have to drive down to downtown to drop off your application. Walking it into the post office and getting proof of mailing is honestly enough. You can’t drop it off at the school.

    As for kindergarten, look at schools near you for open enrollment, SAS and charters that are nearby. You’re likely close enough to look at Ivy Academia in Woodland Hills, or Chime Charter, or at least a dozen schools with open enrollment (Calvert, Calabash in Woodland Hills, Encino and Emilita in Encino), etc., that you won’t have to pay tuition for private school. You may find that some of these gems with under 400 students are keepers and you won’t even apply to the magnet next year.

    The plus side is you can apply for Valley, hope to get turned down, and in a couple of months apply for the charters, and by spring apply through the Open Enrollment programs. You will have choices.

    As for PSC, you’re not likely to want to go that route. You choose it and you’ll have very little control over where they assign your son, and it will be too late to apply through the other programs.

    Happy New Year, and enjoy your time before your son does start school. It goes fast! 🙂

  194. Thanks, Karen.

    Remember, Open Enrollment won’t happen until April, so give yourself several contingency plans (and if Ivy seemed like a possibility, apply there during their enrollment period). Because the state budget cuts are looming, no one knows what will happen this Spring. But those schools I listed had over 50 openings last year, so it wasn’t like I listed “pie in the sky” schools with only 5 openings (I’m not big on long shots).

    Good luck!

  195. Subj: Steps to get 2 year old in Magnet School
    Date: 12/29/2008 5:38:51 PM Pacific Standard Time
    To: MagnetYentas


    I just read the article on the Daily Breeze about how you help parents get their children into magnet schools. If you can take some time to read on, I would greatly appreciate it. My son will be 2 years old next month and is on the wait list to begin preK, fall 2009 at a Manhattan Beach Preschool. As far as grade school he will be attending our home school, 186th street school (LAUSD). Now as far as middle and high school, our home schools would be Peary MS and Gardena HS, which we are VERY opposed of sending him to. We are hoping to get him into a near by magnet school, Dodson. What can we do, even starting now to make sure he doesn’t have to go to his home MS and HS???

    Thank you for listening,

  196. Rosan,

    You are very much in the “relax for now” category. If your two-year-old is happy and healthy and you’re very happy with your home elementary school, take time to get to know that school now. See if they have a “future families” type group for preschoolers who will attend that school. Perhaps join the PTA. Make that elementary school the best it can be. While your involved in your elementary school, and as your son starts working his way through elementary school, start looking at options for middle school. At this point, even suggesting other middle schools is silly because new ones pop up all the time, and new schools become great in only a few years.

    When your child gets to second grade, you can start applying for schools you can’t get into (apply in second for third grade, then apply in third for fourth, and apply in fourth for fifth). When your son gets to fifth grade, and you are applying for sixth grade, you’ll have twelve points and with a little work, you’ll have several options–open enrollment, magnet, etc.

    But for now, just enjoy your toddler. You have time to worry later. 🙂

  197. This website is like a safe haven for two very stressed out parents of a 3 1/2 year old twins living in “Valley Village” (aka not the “real” Valley Village, but a little pocket at Radford between Burbank and Oxnard that they somehow got included in Valley Village). We’d like them to start Kindergarten in fall 2010, but because their birthday is in August, we could do the following year if our school choice isn’t great.

    Used to be we were part of Colfax, but I guess we were too far North, because we’ve been re-routed to Sendak. High percentage of ELLs and quite frankly, I feel about this the way I feel about Carpenter – any school that’s 90% anything isn’t my first choice.

    Aside from approaching the newly chartered Colfax principal and begging for our lives (husband’s plan) or doing what the Colfax parents did those several years ago and turning Sendak into a new-generation Colfax (what I would probably do if my husband wasn’t so against it for some inexplicable reason), any thoughts? Any Sendak parents here happy or unhappy?

    Finally, I keep hearing about how having twins is the jackpot for points gathering and getting into challenging schools – a woman at one of the district offices told me that we can do one application per kid per school, and if one gets in, they have to take the other. True or just a pipe dream?

    Meanwhile, I’m reading every blog, every comment on this site and others, and will continue to soak up words of wisdom and be glad that my kids have August birthdays :).

  198. Oh, by the way, my kids are at Serendipity Pre-School on Burbank Blvd, one block west of Hazeltine, in Valley Glen, and we’re really, really happy with it. They have a great mix of kids and teachers, involved parents, two snacks and one meal a day (actual fresh food), and reasonable prices. Extended hours (6:30-6:30) are also great for a double working parent family.

    Ms Abbey is the school’s director :)!

  199. Liz,

    I hate to burst the jackpot bubble but in LAUSD, there are siblings where one gets in and the parents have to schlep to multiple schools. Perhaps in charters or in open enrollment they’ll take admit a whole family if one gets in, but there are no extra magnet points for twins.

    Since your kids are almost two years away from starting kindergarten, why not take a serious look at the neighborhood school and see if it’s something you can work with. Parents are doing it all over LA. Given the economy, I think you’ll see even more parents wanting to be active and turning a public school into a private school experience.

    If you’re needing to hedge your bets to sleep at night, get yourself acquainted with the charters and the schools with open enrollment in your area. This spring, go to all sorts of open houses and see what you like and what doesn’t work for you.

    You have an entire year to do recon before you have to commit to anything, so relax and do a little homework.

    As for the 90%, remember, the district itself is 90% minority, so until more white parents put their kids in public school, it will continue to be an issue. Why not be part of the solution?

  200. Thanks for writing back so fast Angel! I know there aren’t extra points for twins for magnets – that would be hard to do since one won’t be in until the other is (the idea of starting one before the other didn’t even occur to me :)!)

    I’d actually really LIKE to get involved with the school and working on it – for some reason that I have yet to understand, my husband doesn’t want me to…we’re going to fight more about it after he reads this board and Sandra’s book (which is on its way). Seems to me that I’m in a really great position to actually make a difference at this school.

    Maybe a tour will change his mind.

  201. Wow! Impressive amount of info.
    Okay, it’s Monday and I need to postmark this magnet app. by Friday the 9th. Only just heard about it on Saturday. Zooooooomed to the library to pick it up.
    Question for anyone out there: #7 asks for “school now attending”.
    My 4 y.o. (10-28-2004) is attending Knollwood Preschool in the middle of the valley. But I don’t think stating that will rack up points. Our resident school is/will be Sylmar Elementary… which I imagine falls under PHBAO. Seems Valley Alternative is the only option, other than charters (OCS, Chime…).

    Do I leave it blank?? Woes to the mom who leaves a space blank on the application for point salvation.

    Help and thanx! Mama Martina

  202. Hi! My two boys also go to the same Waldorf-y westside K-8 that “Sensitive Flower” goes to (which we are very happy with!), and I too have been starting to think about what High School they should go to – one that is preferably small-ish and on the westside would be terrific. My older son, Morgan, is currently in 4th and child number 2 (Miles) is currently in 3rd.

    My questions are: Should I start accumulating points now for high school? And are there any plans for a High School page on the Magnet Yenta site? That would be spectacular!

    Sandra – I’ve enjoyed your commentary over the years and it’s great that you’re doing this fantastic public service.. I happened across the story in the Daily News and that’s how I found this site.


  203. Pingback: Magnet schools in LA « Welcome to the Good Life
  204. Even if you ended up not sending your kids there, it will improve the property values–perhaps that’s more understandable to your husband. And honestly being on the ground floor of that kind of improvement gives you all kinds of extra insight, and you might end up being over the moon type happy at your neighborhood school.

    You definitely won’t know until you’ve toured it, talked to the PTA parents there, and asked what kinds of help they need, and see if it fits in with what you can offer.

  205. Hi Martina!

    They ask for two schools. In the one spot, put that he’s at Knollwood preschool. For the second they want your NEIGHBORHOOD school, so put the Sylmar school. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to a charter or private school, they’re basically asking what school you would be going to if you were in your neighborhood.

    You will get your points based on the NEIGHBORHOOD school, so you’ll get the PHBAO from Sylmar.

    For magnet kindergarten in the Valley, Valley Alternative is the way to go. Community Charter Magnet is over the hill, and USC/32nd St. is even further.

    Apply away, but keep in mind that there are over 2600 applications for like 70 openings at Valley Alternative. So, have a backup plan. Chances are you can stay at Knollwood if that interests you, or look at several of the other schools up the back side of Balboa (I probably pass you every morning on San Fernando Road) 🙂

    Good luck!

  206. Thank you Angel. I’ll put Knollwood in the space because they’ll get it that Sylmar El. will be the home school based on our home address. This year’s form must have been shortened.

    Yes, we’ve got our ear to the ground and will be touring charters like OCS and Chime (my goddaughters both went to Chime and I was always impressed with the assemblies/plays I was invited to see). My friend subbed a 1/2 year in Chime’s K class and she put in LOTS of work.

    My husband works near New Academy in Canoga Park. Any feedback on that school?
    And how do I find out if Van Gogh (Granada Hills) has/had open enrollment? Any other K’s along the route from Sylmar to Canoga Pk with open enrollment that get high marks? I want to have feelers in as many places as possible.

    I’m sure we’ve passed each other or stopped at the same signal plenty of times! 😉

  207. Ah, one more thing, Angel you mentioned staying at Knollwood one more year? Can I do that? I mean she’ll be 5 on 10-28 so .. don’t I have to think K now? I was an early K-er (11-29)… I’ve heard of parents keeping or waiting an extra year…but won’t she be bored? She can almost read, she writes her letters/numbers… I’ll talk to the school, too.

  208. Hi Martina,

    Van Gogh only had 5 open enrollment spots last year (down from 25 the previous two years). They do have a YMCA program so they can take child care permits, so that might be an option to pursue.

    When I meant stay at Knollwood, I meant through open enrollment for kindergarten there (how did you get into the pre-k there if it’s not open enrollment?). After all she has been with kids for a year already. I know Knollwood and El Oro Way had more spots, but off the top of my head, I can’t remember. I’m not sure about their options on child care permits.

    Canoga Park is out of my area of expertise, but most of the schools in Chatsworth are good and have spots.

    As for redshirting or not, if you hadn’t planned on it, don’t worry about it–but talk to the preschool teachers on her readiness. My son is a November baby and he did fine, but kindergarten wasn’t full day and it wasn’t as advanced 10 years ago. It’s night and day now.

  209. Hello Magnet Yentas and Sandra!

    Thanks for this, it’s just great!!! Here’s my 411…

    1) Alex, 1/7/04
    2) Kindergarden
    3) Atwater Village
    4) Glenfeliz Elementary
    5) Special needs: speech/behavior

    Currently our child is in an LAUSD special ed Pre-K class, but we’re are hopeful that he will test out of it by the end of the school year and are therefore looking for the LRE for him so that he can soar to his highest potential. We have narrowed our magnet choices down to two: a) Community Magnet Charter School (which is very far from where we are) and b) Arroyo Seco Museum Sciences (closer, but not as highly regarded – whatever). Thought, opinions, specific experiences with these two schools, anyone? Suggestion for others that might be a good fit based on the limited info supplied above?

    Also, we will also be trying for Open Enrollment at Ivanhoe (yeah, right!), Franklin (it could happen), and the lottery for Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts. If anyone has any opinions on these schools, I am all ears, especially with regard to student socialization and conflict resolution, principals/VeePs and parent involvement. I should mention that we are not ruling out Glenfeliz. It is a completely viable option for us, we just want to explore all potential avenues for our children (Alex has a younger sibling that will enter K in 2012). Thank you in advance for your thoughtful consideration to this query as well as a response.

  210. I just read with panic that the magnet school applications are due this Friday. I have been avoidance for some time because my husband and I are really hoping to move out of LA to Colorado before our son starts school but with this economy and the fact that my husband will need to make a career change for this to happen, I’m finally admitting we may be here for a while.

    Our son turns 5 in early November. In Colorado the cut-off for school is September so he’d be in pre-K another year. Here he is qualified to enter school. His pre-school teachers think he is ready for kindergarten and he can’t stay at his current preschool next year. He is tall for his age and bright but a typical boy who is more interested in gross motor activities than anything else. So I’m wondering pre-K or K to begin with – particularly given that we’re pretty committed to moving eventually and I don’t necessarily want him to be the youngest in his class.

    So the next dilemma is we live in 90035 and our school is Crescent Heights Elementary – definitely not an option. We’re renters on month-to-month so we could move but for obvious reasons we don’t necessarily want to get into a year lease if possible. My husband works at UCLA and I work at Coldwater Canyon and Mulholland. We really don’t want to commute far for either his school or home.

    Are there good magnet schools on the westside we should consider? I know the schools around UCLA are good but we’re hoping not to live in an apartment with no year. Another option we have is UCLA’s kindergarten. Does anyone out there have experience with it?

    I know this is a long post and a lot. You can respond to any piece of it.

  211. Hello Magnet Yentas and Sandra!

    Thanks for this, it’s just great!!! Here’s my 411…

    1) Alex, 1/7/04
    2) Kindergarden
    3) Atwater Village
    4) Glenfeliz Elementary
    5) Special needs: speech/behavior

    Currently our child is in an LAUSD special ed Pre-K class, but we are hopeful that he will test out of it by the end of the school year and are therefore looking for the LRE for him so that he can soar to his highest potential. We have narrowed our magnet choices down to two: a) Community Magnet Charter School (which is very far from where we are) and b) Arroyo Seco Museum Sciences (closer, but not as highly regarded – whatever). Thought, opinions, specific experiences with these two schools, anyone? Suggestion for others that might be a good fit based on the limited info supplied above?

    Also, we will also be trying for Open Enrollment at Ivanhoe (yeah, right!), Franklin (it could happen), and the lottery for Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts. If anyone has any opinions on these schools, I am all ears, especially with regard to student socialization and conflict resolution, principals/VeePs and parent involvement. I should mention that we are not ruling out Glenfeliz. It is a completely viable option for us, we just want to explore all potential avenues for our children (Alex has a younger sibling that will enter K in 2012). Thank you in advance for your thoughtful consideration to this query as well as a response.

  212. Hi Pam (#213)

    Waitlist points are cumulative for 3 years, (4 pts per year x 3 consecutive years = 12 max), then the oldest points fall off. So, to start collecting points for a HS Magnet, one would begin applying to a highly competitive MS Magnet in the winter of 5th grade going into 6th, then 7th, then 8th, and hope you don’t get in so you can accumulate the maximum waitlist points by the time you apply for 9th grade (the beginning of HS). However, if you apply and do get offered a slot but you turn it down, you will lose all your accumulated waitlist points. Doh! Therefore, it is helpful to apply to a magnet middle school you might actually consider switching to if you get in, because if your son graduates from a magnet middle school, even if he just got there in the 8th grade, he will receive 12 points for magnet matriculation, the same he would have received by collecting waitlist points those 3 years, so it evens the playing field.

    For anyone else reading this, this same strategy works for getting into a magnet middle school. Begin applying going into 3rd, then 4th, then 5th to collect the max waitlist points you can accumulate in order to optimize your chances for 6th grade (middle school.) If you end up switching over to a magnet elementary at any year and graduate 5th grade, you get those 12 magnet matriculation points —the same number of points you would have had to accumulate over 3 years of applying and trying not to get in.

    Or, you can skip the strategizing, point-collecting, and gas-guzzling busing altogether, and re-invest all that energy into your local public neighborhood schools. It’s actually getting quite trendy to do so in many parts of LA.


    Tanya Anton

    Author, “Westside Guide to Public Elementary Schools:
    Navigating Magnets, Charters, Permits & More” (Revised and Updated)

  213. I have a 15yr old daughter she attends Woodrow Wilson High in El sereno, HELP me locate a better school it is her first year attenting but would like to enroll her in a better school. PLEASE HELP!!!!

  214. Hi Maria,

    I’m not familiar with the area, but there are other options. You can look at charters and open enrollment. You missed the deadline for magnets for this year. But charters should start hosting open houses to recruit new families very soon, and open enrollment (where you go to a school that has space more distant from your home)would have their lotteries in the spring.

    I’m going to give you the link to the 90032 zip code on GreatSchools. Here schools are ranked from 1-10 where 10 is best. You can contact some of these schools and see if they will have openings and when you can apply. There are at least two charters with better scores than your daughter’s school. You can find them all here:,14280,16922,10927,2198,2334,1942,14110,15084,23849,14556,14936,12433,10654,13902,2352,8065,1939,14508,9951,8001,14166,2089,17659,23845&showall=1&tab=over

    Good luck, and as you have questions, come back and we’ll go through them one at a time.

  215. I have a 4 1/2 yr old boy that is currently in Private preschool and we are seriously considering sending to public school for Kindergarten starting Sept 2009. We live in Woodland Hills and are in the Serrania school district. Several of his classmates that he is close with are headed to Woodland Hills Elementary, which is not our zoned school. I’ve heard its next to impossible to get in there. Is it possible to permit in? How do I go about this and when? They seem to have the best test scores for our area as well as appealing campus set up. Haven’t heard much about their after school program for WHE but know Serrania has E3 Enrichment afterschool program which is a consideration as we both work fulltime. Any insights you can share on Serrania and their SAS program (which starts in Grade 2 or 3 I hear- but they start “screening” earlier).

  216. Sorry one more thing. I hear there are 2 Kindergarten teachers at Serrania that are particularly good. Is there a way to get into their classrooms? Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks much!

  217. Dearest Claudia,

    In my humble opinion, you are overstressing and overfixated on minute, intangible differences of two already excellent schools–and we are talking about KINDERGARTEN after all–which means as a mother. . . you need to get a life. I say this with much empathy, sympathy and love. (Particularly as Serrania appears to have that great afterschool enrichment program which in fact IS key, as you work.)

    It’s clear you love your child deeply, but beware of that familiar motherly temptation to “smooth every speedbump” along the way, as in the end experience shows such over-hovering creates helpless, fragile and anxious young adults.

    Other opinions may differ. Ladies?

    – Sandra

  218. You can always try to get into WHES, but whether it’s a better fit for your family you won’t know without touring and getting a feel for it. If it’s one of those schools with a mile long open enrollment list, you’ll spend a lot of energy and worry, and you might not get in.

    If you tour both Serrania and WHES and you like WHES, I’d say apply, and then forget about it, and if they call, great. But if you like Serrania, and you don’t have to worry about permits, your son is young and he’ll have friends from school for some play dates and friends from preschool for other playdates.

    As for choosing a teacher, it’s VERY dicey. Schools spend a LOT of time, believe it or not, trying to balance the ratios–boys to girls, youngest kids to oldest kids, and personality types (kids AND teachers). What one person perceives as the best for a kid may or may not be the best based on other considerations, and based on the fact that they’re trying to balance 60-80 or more kids per grade level’s needs.

    When you do decide where to go, I’d write a very simple one page letter offering up the type of child you have. For example, “Michael is a kinesthetic learner and does well in small groups.” Add anything you can that will help place him, and hopefully that will be with the teachers you think are good for him. Whatever you do, don’t vocalize your choices to your son. You may find out there’s an entirely NEW teacher that is even more phenom, and by making your wishes known, you miss out. Plus, there may come a time when you have to pull that card, and you don’t want to be the parent crying wolf when you REALLY don’t see eye-to-eye with a teacher.

    Good luck, and let us know what you decide!

  219. A “bad fit” teacher (particularly in younger graders) can be a great learning opportunity for a student:
    You don’t have to love (even like) someone to service or thrive. And it’s good to learn how to deal with different personality when you young.
    My daughter’s kindergarten teacher went on maternity leave right after winter break. For the remainder of the term, the class had a few weeks of a different sub each day (some great, some good, a few bad and one nuts) in addition to three long term subs. Two of those long term’ers were great and one not so much (she was an ok teacher, but a bit over disciplinary in my humble opinion).
    How did my daughter and her 17 fellow classmates deal (and based on how all her class mates are now doing in 3rd grade, they did not just deal, they have been able to thrive) with all these different teachers? Well they:
    • learned to be flexible,
    • they learned how to deal with differently teaching and personality styles
    • they learned how to depend each other

  220. Posting this here for lack of a better place… and just FYI for anybody who might be interested:

    LAUSD’s Hesby Oaks School – grades K-8 School Tour__

    Very small, community oriented – feels like a private school, only 2 classes per grade

    This Friday, January 23rd at 9:00 A.M.

    Hesby Oaks School

    15530 Hesby Street, Encino

    (818) 528-7000

  221. So, are none of the Yentas going to take a crack at a reply to post #220 or #222 (sorry I doubled up). Is it just that none of you have any direct experience with schools that offer programs for children with special needs or was it simply an oversight? Something I said? Anyone? : ) Thx!

  222. Hi Sassyfrass,

    It’s out of my area of expertise (I’m pretty much Valley based), but I’ll ask some of my friends with kids with special needs if they know anyone who can help.

    It’s been my experience that when it comes to special needs, the school’s willingness to work with you is far more important than the typical magnet/charter/open enrollment issues. So my only advice would be to ask to speak to some parents of special needs kids and see how responsive the school is to their needs. Of course they are required by law, but it’s a lot easier to have a working relationship rather than a constantly contentious one.

  223. Hi, we’ve got an 18-month-old and are currently renting in Echo Park. We have this fantasy that prices will sink low enough (remember when half a million seemed like an impossibly large amount of money?) that we’re going to actually be able to buy a house within the next few years.

    We’d love any recommendations for school districts to househunt in, particularly on the eastside – I work for a downtown nonprofit, my husband is at USC, and we both usually take the bus to work and love having minimal commutes. Our kid seems to have a sweet personality and will be a short geeky nerd if he’s anything like his parents. We’d love some academic rigor and would hate to feel like we have to do a lot of personal grooming to fit in with other parents, if you know what I mean.

    Thanks for any and all advice!

    • Dear Cyn,

      The eastside is booming in terms of up-and-coming elementaries. For a primer, troll SCHOOLFINDER in all the appropriate eastside areas (Echo Park, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, etc.). By the time your 18 month old is of kindergarten age, even downtown will have become desirable (Li?).

      In LA, the rule of thumb is, buy the affordable house you love, and via a grand cosmic plan, you’ll soon find like-minded neighbors, and if you then put your heads together, a wonderful local public school will be discovered (either in the neighborhood, or in within yourself, combining with the neighborhood). Sounds Zen, but that’s the story many of us have lived.

      Good luck, and write back with more specific questions after you’ve read more!


  224. Hi Cyn,
    I too am a parent, non profit employee and a mass transit user and almost your neighbor (I live in the Sunset Junction community) To help you in your house hunting (and yes, prices will keep going down) let me give you a run down on schools in districts that are walking distent to the major bus lines (lines 2, 4, 302 and 704 as well as the red line):
    PLASENCIA EL 1321 CORTEZ ST LOS ANGELES, CA 90026. Everyone I know who has or had a child at this school LOVES IT!!!
    MAYBERRY EL . This would be a bit of a walk to the bus stops for you and the hubby. Very active parent groups. Some complaining by parents/ step parents about being lax on pushing all children to be the best they can be
    ELYSIAN HEIGHTS EL 1562 BAXTER ST. LOS ANGELES, CA 90026. You may need to take the DASH to get to your bus if you move in this district, but it may be worth it/. I have heard great things about this school, the student mix, the size and the garden. One compliant- the principal from one parent (who is not there anymore) the principal does not welcome parent input.
    MICHELTORENA EL 1511 MICHELTORENA ST, LOS ANGELES, CA 90026 Ok this is my school and I am very biased about it. I love it. Great principal lovely teachers. Active parents and cool students. New library coming spring 2010 and new playground fall 2009. Free before and after school care.
    LOS FELIZ EL 1740 N NEW HAMPSHIRE AVE LOS ANGELES, CA 90027 . I have talked to this principal at a few community meeting. She seam cool (any time I see a principal at a community meeting, I am impressed). Right across the street from the Barnsdall Park and class do use the park for field trips.
    DAYTON HEIGHTS EL 607 N WESTMORELAND AVE LOS ANGELES, CA 90004 . Great new city- school district partnership playground. All the parents I have talked to like (not love ) the school.
    CLIFFORD EL 2150 DUANE ST LOS ANGELES, CA 90039 another long walk to the bus, but well worth it if you want a small school with an active parent base.
    Good luck and the house hunting (and if you want to know about some great City- County-fed. First time home buyer programs, just email me and I can send you info.)

  225. How does one get one’s hands on a copy of the CST results referenced in this post:

    For what it’s worth, Hamilton’s Humanities Magnet students did well in English Language Arts portion of the California Standards Test (CST): 90% of the students tested in 2007-08 ranked proficient or advanced compared with 78% of the magnet students at Venice. The mathematics stat is more sobering, however: 28% of the Humanities Magnet students tested proficient of advanced compared with 60% of the Venice magnet students.

  226. Hi Cyn,
    Most of the parents I know from Plasencia are not in the Math/science magnet, so the answer would be all programs.
    And let me add Logan to the list: although I have heard many completes about this school from current and former parents, a dance charter school will co locating at Logan in the coming year. This school, Gabriella Charter School now in Pico Union, has an API of about 800 or so. So if your off spring has a love of dance, this would be a great school for your family.

  227. hey there,

    i am wondering how i might connect my son with other kids from our neighborhood school (delevan drive in eagle rock) who will be entering first grade next fall. he has been attending walden school in pasadena and while we love it, we cannot afford it even with financial aid. my son is very slow to transition and i am anticipating a very difficult fall/winter as he goes from a small progressive private school into lausd (hello homework)…i have tried to contact the school and they will not give me any names or suggestions. i would like to permit into eagle rock elementary where he has friends and i have a mommy community of eagle rockers but i’ve been told those decisions don’t get made until sometime after school begins (sometimes up to a month)..any suggestions?

    • Look under topic list on right edge of this website. . .

      SCHOOLFINDER (then underneath that EAGLE ROCK, should have our very helfpul supermom friend’s info who is PTA head at Delevan)

  228. Re: #238

    Lar – Some of us have been asking – for several years now -that schools break out test scores and assessment data for magnet centers, magnet schools, SAS schools and SLC (Small Learning Communities). I have been told that the Local District Superintendents have the data for magnet schools and centers. I am working on getting all of this data posted on the LAUSD site for parents.


  229. Bill, I have been pushing for this as well! Our magnet center competes directly against a local magnet school that touts their API scores… but ours are lumped into the homeschool. Makes it pretty hard for parents to compare apples to apples! If I can help you with this effort somehow, let me know…

  230. Bill and Rebekka, amen.

    Anytime a school lumps the data together, it’s unfair to both groups. But it definitely blurs what a difference the populations are.

    I’ll be glad to help too.

  231. Emerson Middle School has been working hard (and largely succeeding) at bringing back neighborhood kids in Westwood, many of whom bolt for private or in recent years have preferred Paul Revere or Palms Gifted Magnet. One of the arguments Emerson administrators have made is that the API scores are misleading and are not apples to apples comparisons since most of the kids from the surrouding area could be admitted to the SAS or IHP programs for GATE kids. In SAS/IHP classes, they are surrounded by kids with much higher test scores. In a presentation available on their website for the GATE parents, Emerson broke out the GATE/SAS scores from the rest of the school and just compared it to GATE/SAS students at Revere and Palms to show that Emerson’s GATE kids come out ahead of both schools in virtually categories.,10,2008 CST Comparisons SAS/GATE Students – Advanced/Proficient

    Obviously, Emerson had an interest in breaking out the data to bolster their argument for the local parents, but it seems like schools must have access to this information even in the non-magnet category (even if they just have to go through all of their GATE/Magnet/SAS kids one-by-one to aggregate the data).

  232. Hi Jetson,

    The easy answer is to use school finder if you know a few addresses and you want to know what schools they’re zoned for. It’s located here:

    If you want all the specific boundaries (say, houseshopping in specific neighborhoods with your realtor), you should contact the local district (3 or 4?) and they can give you the actual boundary maps (they can change every year with attendance surges and with new construction, so ask about anything near a boundary).

  233. Our stats:
    1) Violet- Age 2 1/2
    2) Pre-K/Kindergarten
    3) San Raphael/Pasadena
    4) San Raphael Elementary
    5) Pre-K/Kindergarten Confusion…

    It may be too soon for me to freak out about this, but I’m 8 months pregnant with baby #2 and in full freak out/nesting mode so here goes… My 2 1/2 year old daughter is in pre-school now and doing well, both socially and developmentally, except for some recent biting attacks by two different boys when she refused to give up her toys to them. (More power to her, I say… but it’s making her think boys are “not fun to play with”.) From what I can tell, San Raphael Elementary may not be a good fit for us, and with Baby #2 on the way (and not knowing when a move may be in our future), I’m looking for alternate pre-K/kindergarten options that won’t break the bank. Grandma lives in the Dahlia Heights district of Eagle Rock (where my husband went to school), so we’re open to lots of options including Eagle Rock, the west/central parts of Pasadena, even La Canada. And if they offered after school care (I teach 2 days a week), all the better!

    I’m not sure where to start on this search, but would love to hear suggestions on the following…

    1. When is the right time to start the pre-K/kindergarten search for a child who will be 3 in June 2009? I hear lots of public/magnet schools have long waiting lists, but I don’t know what “long” means.
    2. What is pre-K anyway and how is it different from keeping my child in a preschool program through the age of 5 at a local daycare/preschool?
    3. Should we go with a pre-K program solely for the purpose of getting her into an elementary school sooner rather than later? (I don’t know how hard it is to start kids a year later for kindergarten…)
    Thanks so much,

  234. 1) Name – Olivia March 1995
    2) Grade – 9
    3) West LA (Cheviot Hills/Beverlywood)
    4) Hamilton High
    5) We are moving to LA in June 09. Unfortunately, we can’t apply to any Magent programs now, as we aren’t LAUSD residents.

    Nevertheless, I would like to enroll her in an academically enriched program. Currently, she is a straight A student and is enrolled in all the honors
    courses available (English, Algebra, Science), is a member of Student
    Council, senior editor on yearbook staff, member of the school newspaper staff, president of the drama club, and a member of the National Junior Honor

    What are my options regarding getting her into a good school/program? What are the chances there will be openings in a good Magnet Program at a good school? How often do schools grant boundry exceptions?

    Any advice is appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

  235. Dear Magnet Yenta,

    I am in Downey Unified but will move to L.A. if I have to.

    My son Charles born the last week in December of 2004. Which means he cannot attend Kindergarten til Sept. 2010. He has mastered about 90% of the kindergarten readiness checklist and I just cannot fathom the idea that he cannot start K until a year and a half from now. Is there a way to get around this rule? Is there a test he can take? Or a shcool in LAUSD that will take him. Your help is greatly appreciated.

  236. Hi 250, your situation sounds familiar, did you post on GreatSchools?

    You’re right that magnet season is indeed over with for the year. And by June, you’ll likely be out of luck for charter and open enrollment slots as well. Other parents closer to your area will be able to identify neighborhood high schools with strong curriculum.

    You can seek an innerdistrict transfer, or a work-related transfer depending on where you live, both are dependent on if the accepting school has available space.

    I’ll let others weigh in from the area before posting more.

  237. 251,

    I understand your dilemma. You might be able to find a private school that will allow attendance for kindergarten (and likely first grade), and then transfer to public school in second grade. Because CA doesn’t require kindergarten, the state checks birthdates two times: in kindergarten and again before first grade. While all schools may not practice the law in that fashion, you’d need to contact someone and find out how each individual public school handles it.

    Here’s the state of California’s law on kindergarten (and first grade) admission:

    Remember, too, that the trend is to redshirt kindergarteners until they’re six when starting, so while your child might be academically ready, he’s going to be at a disadvantage in terms of size and maturity.

    I said I understand your dilemma, because my son was a November baby, and I put him through–13 years ago. His sister is a March baby, 11 school years later, and what they’re doing now in kindergarten is essentially the old first grade. I can see the difference in her second grade class among the older kids and the youngest.

    No one can tell you what to do, but think of kindergarten as more than just academic.

  238. Hi Yentas-

    I’ve read this question in an earlier post and wondered if you had anymore information. We have a 4 year old who will be 5 on December 17 2009. We live in Culver City and our neighborhood school is Stoner Elementry. Tonight I went to Farragut elementry for a kindergarden open house. At the moment she’s going to culver city montessori and I saw alot of her classmates at the open house. I loved the school and thought my worries were over and all i’d need for her to go to this school was a intradistrict permit as we live in Culver City. I had absolutely no idea that even though we have a culver city zip and all our mail is addressed to culver city, for school purposes we are classed as los angeles. I’m both devastated and angry. We live in a house on a nice street but 4 blocks west of us is the mar vista gardens housing projects. It’s a massive collection of apartments that goes on for blocks and is fenced in. It’s notorious for drug and gang activity. Stoner elementry is also the neighborhood school for these apartments. We pay a lot of money for our house and it seems ridiculous that even with our culver city label and zip we are not able to goto farragut without yet another permit. It also leaves us bottom of the list with slim chances of getting in. I thought maybe you may have some new advice.


  239. #250: I would consider applying for the School for Advanced Studies program at University High. Hamilton has a good Humanities Magnet, but it will be filled and the general classes are not going to be satisfactory for you. By contrast, the SAS permit is open and you haven’t missed any deadlines for it. Uni also lost a lot of enrollment when new schools opened up downtown and they no longer have kids coming on buses from far away. The principal is really active in recruiting neighborhood kids and the SAS program and the AP courses look pretty strong. You’re not far from the boundary anyway (which includes Westwood and West LA generally). It’s worth checking out.

  240. #250: The SAS program in secondary schools is wildly uneven across the District. Investigate CAREFULLY before you commit. The skills of the coordinator of the program as well as the experience of the teaching staff with students identified GATE make all the difference; further, some schools claim to have an SAS program yet don’t – and there is no one monitoring or evaluating these programs in the District.

    The school was being considered (along with its primary feeder, Emerson Middle) as the pathway for a planned introduction of the fabulous International Baccalaureate (IB) program but recently withdrew from this nascent effort (Community Magnet Charter is the elementary school
    participating). I have not fully investigated why but this tells me that the secondary schools in this complex are not ready to address the needs of the local population.

    Hamilton High’s Humanities Magnet will likely be filled in the fall but the well-respected Music Academy may have openings and students may take classes from Humanities teachers as my senior daughter has done. The students also publish a newspaper – and the Music Academy would afford your child a pathway for her interest in Drama; further, the school’s most demanding & skilled English teacher has classes filled with Academy students. My daughter also has discovered a love for physiology due primarily to her teacher.

    Bill Ring
    Hamilton Parent

  241. 1) First name and birthdate of your child
    Dee DOB 8/22/1997

    2) What grade of school you’re seeking

    3) What part of Los Angeles you’re in

    4) What your local public school is
    Bancroft Middle School

    5) Extenuating circumstances that may apply?
    Well this is actually my god child and she will be in my care for a year. Her mother is in the military and has been stationed overseas. I checked the scores for the school and have been reading as much as possible. Honestly, all this information is overwhelming. I guess I am just trying to figure out if she will be ok for a year at Bancroft or should I start considering charter schools. As far as I can tell a magnet program is out of reach and I don’t think private school is financially an option. She does well in school and is very interested in performing arts. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

  242. Lindsay age 13
    Currently in 7th grade – looking for small high school or school that goes 8th – 12th
    Portola but currenly attending Hesby Oaks
    Has IEP – is academically chanllenged
    Have 12 magnet points but can’t get into VAMS or Milikan Performing Arts. Can you help with any suggestions?

  243. Shamise (#259):

    It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when navigating middle schools and particularly at this extraordinary time of budget and personnel cuts. Take a deep breath and go to visit Bancroft. The school has a very good principal in Cheryl Hildreth and I would suggest you arrange to meet with her and discuss your concerns.

    Other parents to whom I have spoken about the academic program at the school and the level of parent/community engagement by the principal lead me to believe that you and your godchild will be welcomed at the school and will be in good hands there. Let us know how you feel after your visit with Ms. Hildreth.

    Bill Ring

  244. Hello,

    My daughter, Noa , is 5 years old 12/16/2003 . next year she will go to Brentwood Magnet school for Kindergarten as we live in the neigberwood.
    Our local elementry school is Broxton.
    What are the changes that she will be accepted to Magnet school for first grad?
    We are Israeli, are we consider minority, does it give us any more points?

    Noa’s mom

  245. I was losing my mind completely and then I found this resource — a zillion thanks to you.

    My son’s birthday is 5/19/04. We live in 91601. Toluca Lake Elementary is our home school. My husband and I work in West Hollywood and Century City. NOW, for the losing my mind part. My son has a diagnosis of high functioning autism. I won’t pass on all my stress to you by telling you all about that, but what I’ll say is that his issues are 90 percent about behavior — he acts more like he has pretty bad adhd than autism. At our upcoming IEP, they are going to push for Toluca Lake – an inclusion program or special ed. I was happy to read on this site that it isn’t as bad as it sounds when you read its stats, which terrify me. My other choice is to push for open enrollment at Rosewood, which is in our work neighborhood. I have no idea how to choose. I also became extremely interested in a private school called the Children’s Corner in Van Nuys, but it’s near nothing in our lives and I can’t find anyone who knows anything about it, so I plan to tour in about a week.

    How do I decide? Ten minute tours don’t tell me enough. I need the scoop, the real deal…

    I’m. Fried. Completely.

    • One of our autism expert Magnet Yentas writes:

      I personally don’t know anything about these three schools. However, it wouldn’t hurt for the mom to get her name on the open enrollment list at Rosewood now by using the interdistrict transfer option.

      I would ask if her son already has an IEP, or are the parents meeting with an IEP team to create the IEP. Should her son wind up at either Toluca Lake or Rosewood, his IEP will be binding at either school. I’m not sure how private schools deal with kids with IEP’s.

      Usually public schools will push for students with HFA to be fully included in classrooms, also known as the LRE (least restrictive environment). (Do we have enough acronyms?) Since her son has behavioral issues, she should request an Adult Assistant (AA) for her son during classroom hours. For the most part, when a student with HFA has an AA, that AA will be able to assist the student stay focused in the classroom, stay with the child should they need to take breaks during class time, assist when behavior issues arise, things like that. If an AA was or is not assigned, her son’s IEP can be amended down the road should his behavior issues warrant an AA to be with him.

      If it’s recommended that her son be in special ed., she should find out the ratio of kids to teachers/assistants, how many special ed classes are offered at each school, and how many of those kids have HFA and what is being done for them during school hours. She should also try to meet the teachers, but also visit each classroom during school hours, and not just a lunch/recess time. Sometimes, ten minutes is all you need.

      Without knowing more about her son’s situation, it’s hard to make additional constructive suggestions. I hope this helps.

  246. Hi Jessica (#260),

    Have you talked to the folks at Hesby Oaks? The key for finding the perfect fit for a special needs child is to have all the input you can. You might want to talk to some of the smaller charters in your area like Magnolia Science Academy. They run 6-12 and it’s fairly small at 430 kids. It’s in Reseda. There are other charters as well. Getting into any magnet in 8th grade is very unlikely, since the spots are primarily for the first year of the school, and the only 7th or 8th grade spots would be through kids who move.

    But like I said, talk to the folks at Hesby and see if they can point you in the right direction.

    Good luck!

  247. I am planning ahead for my 4 and almost 7 year old. How many points will I need for my eldest to apply (and get in) to LACES? I understand I’ll need to obtain enough points prior to the year I’d apply, which would be when my eldest would be entering 6th grade. He is currently in 1st. I have applied only once (this past Jan ) and have yet to receive any points, other than a letter saying I received “0” priority points. What would the protocol be for his sibling? We live in Los Angeles, our public High School is John Marshall.

  248. Hi,
    Thank you so much for your help. My 4 year old son is in private pre-school since the age of 2.
    Julian 1/19/05
    we live in North Hollywood
    Toluca Lake El is our home school.
    1/2 Hisp.1/2 White
    I would truly appreciate any guidance.

  249. A and C born June 04 are entering kinder this Aug/Sept. We are moving to the Cohasset Elem. area in Van Nuys (now supposedly Lake Balboa) in the next two months. I don’t know much about the school. It looks like a clean school. I checked out the district site and school website. I spoke to the secretary in person and she said that there is no kinder orientation. You just come the first day and meet the teachers, see the room then. I would have liked a tour or some meeting. I thought the k yard looked like a lot of fun, but there didn’t seem to be any climbing equipment for the older kids. Everyone seemed quite nice and there are a couple of great schools comments that were encouraging. Anyone know anything about this school?

    I teach in Burbank and have the option to send them there, but I have no control over which school they are sent to and they could get bumped by others to another school in the first few weeks as enrollment shifts since they would be there on permit. Also I need daycare after school and since I don’t know which school they’ll be at, I can’t get put on the waiting lists for the daycare options at the schools. That is stressing me out. Plus they won’t get to know any neighborhood kids and will be carpooling with me daily, which they currently do now from Sherman Oaks to preschool in Burbank.
    If I put them in LAUSD at their neighborhood school and/or try for a magnet in 1st (since I think I missed the application deadlines for k), then we will have different vacation start and ending dates since Burbank now starts mid-August and ends in May/beg of June.
    Not sure what the better option is. Any thoughts?

  250. Thank to all of you who took the time to respond on and offsite.

    After much pushing, my husband and I – who were literally planning to sell a home we adore just to get into a particular school district for elementary school – went to visit our supposedly “less than desirable” neighborhood school.

    Okay yeah, it’s 92% hispanic – not spanish speaking, hispanic. And by 1st grade, all are fluent. They also offer FREE parent classes in ALL subject the kids are learning so the parents can help the kids.

    The teachers are young and on fire, the principal is a serious ass-kicker who just won the District Pioneer Award, and I’ve already met five families ready to dive in and take on the major issue at the school – which isn’t educational quality, isn’t kids keeping up, isn’t bullying, isn’t awful grounds (gorgeous brand-new school here!) – it’s simply diversity. Which really means we just need to get the word out about this gem just sitting here in our midst.

    I am grateful to all of you here for your candor, support, the occasional ass kick, and everything else. We’re staying in our house and we’re gonna work our butts off to make this school everything it can be.

    And…if anyone’s children are districted to Maurice Sendak Elementary in North Hollywood — whether they are already born, starting this year, starting the next year, or already well into elementary school — and would like to join a group of committed parents for a meeting, please contact me at

    Thanks all – you’ve really lit a fire here!

  251. We’re in the Silver Lake area, in LAUSD. I have a 5 year old son, George, who could have started kindergarten last year, but we chose to keep him in preschool for social development. He is a very bright child, with lots of intellectual curiosity and social maturity. We applied to have him attend The Mirman School for Gifted Children, but, alas, he was put on the wait list. I’m now totally crushed as this would have been the perfect fit for him. This was our only private school application as we have limited financial resources and were hoping to get in to Mirman with a scholarship.

    We have 4 magnet points, so I don’t expect to get in to the magnet we applied to (Open Charter). We’re way down on the wait list for Larchmont Charter and Los Feliz Charter, so out of the running for those.

    Our local elementary school is Lexington Primary Center, which is a K-2 school. I’m concerned about this school as there are a lot of English learners and we spoke to the principal, our son would be the only gifted student in the school, so there’s no gifted program at the school. We visited the Kindergarten classroom in February and they were learning things which George has already mastered. If we send him here (our last choice), I’m going to push to have him admitted to first grade, this way we could try to get him into the San Jose Highly Gifted Magnet in 2nd grade next year.

    We’re considering moving to Encino/Sherman Oaks just to be able to get into a better school (where we could afford a house).

    I feel so lost, any help would be appreciated.


  252. Elizabeth
    Hello my fellow Silver Lake mom. If your child has done kindergarten at another school, and meets the age requirments, there is no reason he could not go to 1st grade at Lexington. (Kindergarten is not mandatory in California)

    Most schools don’t start gifted programs until 3rd grade so it is not surprising that Lexington Primary Center (I LOVE that school. New building that works for today’s education needs, not like our 100 year old school building. And a API of like 800 ish) does not have a gifted program.

    And let me tell you a about the “English Learner” thing: 99% of the elementary school EL kids speak fluent English. Heck, some speak nothing BUT English. When a parent fills out the enrollment paperwork for LAUSD and the parent lists that any languages in addition to (or instead of) English is spoken in the house hold, the child will automatically be labeled EL. (The district and school get federal and state money for each EL student they have. I’m not saying the district does this on purpose, but one does wonder) (don’t even get me started on Title One. Our school is school wide Title one, but we have parents who are engineers, doctors and attorneys).

    If you like your house and your neighborhood don’t move just because of the school. Unless it is a fear of all the brown kids at the school. Then maybe you don’t belong in Silver Lake.

  253. Hang in there, Liz. You might be surprised to find among your 90% that the kids’ favorite food is sushi, they speak passable Japanese, and have a passion for old 70s and 80s music. Wait, that’s my son. We’re in San Fernando, but you get the idea.

    Kick butt and take names. You’ll do well, and any school named after Maurice Sendak has to have something going for it. And now it also has you!

  254. Hi Elizabeth,

    I concur with what Doreet is saying. Kindergarteners aren’t identified typically in LAUSD, so it’s not that the K-2 school has no gifted kids, it’s that they have no IDENTIFIED gifted kids. I have the same hunch as Doreet does that it makes sense for the school to identify kids as ELL–its’ the same game they used to play with bilingual education.

    If he’s that advanced you can try to put him into first grade, but keep in mind, with all the kids being redshirted, you will face the backlash with a boy who could conceivably be two years younger than some of his peers. No matter what his intelligence level, it’s tough to be the smart but seemingly immature kid because you’re just doing what a five or six year old is supposed to do.

    I don’t have any easy answers, but I’ve raised two gifted/highly gifted kids, and there’s a lot more in kindergarten and first grade than just what they put on paper. There’s social interaction, friendships, and a variety of activities. I kept my kids where they belonged in school and enriched at home.

    Keep in mind if you’re angling for San Jose, you will need to get him tested ASAP. Given the budget crunch, you’ll want to know if the district is going to put a wrench in those plans.

    Good luck, and let us know what you find decide.


  255. Thank you for your advice, Doreet and Ang. George has not yet attended kindergarten, he is currently in preschool, but he is already reading, writing sentences, and doing addition and subtraction. We did have him IQ tested as part of the application for Mirman, and he placed in the 99.9 percentile, the psychologist said he was working 2 years above grade level. So, I’m not saying I’m trying to put him in 2nd grade, but he is of the age to legally be admitted to first grade.

    Doreet, I’m sorry if my post seemed to imply some sort of “fear of brown kids” as driving my decision, my decision is driven by my desire to seek the best possible education for my son given our limited financial resources. I must admit that I definitely felt defensive in response to your comment that maybe I don’t belong in Silver Lake if I’m afraid of brown kids since I have grown up and have lived in Silver Lake most of my 41 years in the same house that my Mom bought in 1969, and *I* am Hispanic. However, I don’t want my son to go to a school that has an overwhelming majority of any one ethnicity, I am seeking a school environment for him that is diverse ethnically and socioeconomically, as well as provides a top-notch education. I know Mirman wasn’t going to be the former, but I expected it to provide the latter.


  256. Elizabeth,

    I’m going against the opinion of many parents, but gifted kids are gifted no matter what you do. Kids with less ability aren’t going to “water him down.” Talk to the teachers about differentiation, and possibly even taking classes with different grade levels during different parts of the day depending on where he’s at (and even the most gifted kids are rarely at one super-high level for everything).

    Sometimes the best education isn’t having them read the books that are 3-4 grades above their level, but having them read the picture books (which have great vocabulary) forwards and then read the pages in reverse order. Or have them read outloud with a variety of voices and inflection. Sometimes it’s baking cookies and doubling the recipes because who could’t use even MORE chocolate chip cookies. The education doesn’t have to come strictly from a more advanced curriculum at this age, trust me.

    Mirman’s test won’t take the place of LAUSD’s, just to warn you, so he’ll have to placed on the list to be tested again anyway.

    I have nothing against San Jose, in fact I looked at it for my son years ago. But a bus ride from Silver Lake to Mission Hills every day is not going to be fun. See what you can find at your local school, at least for the K-2 and perhaps you can find something closer in a year or two. At least by then, he won’t be the little bitty guy on a bus for over an hour each way.

  257. Elizabeth:

    As you’ve discovered, it is a tough period for gifted/HG kids between preschool and second grade or so. There isn’t much to do with them. Every gifted kid will be forced to “relearn” stuff they already know, so my approach with my HG child was to think of those years as social skills building ones, which are just as important.

    Your choices seem to boil down to:

    1) Non-Mirman private school (but you mention financial issues and who knows if they can address your son’s needs?)
    2) Your local LAUSD school, Lexington (I agree with Angel that kids just aren’t identified/tested as gifted yet but that doesn’t mean gifted kids aren’t there)
    3) Homeschooling

    I would urge you to give Lexington a try. Talk to the administration and share his Mirman scores and request some accommodation (subject pull-outs with upper grades? Grade skip right into first grade if you think he’s emotionally ready?). Explain that you just want him to not lose interest in school and be totally bored (but keep your expectations realistic; this isn’t “George’s School.”) It is all about social skills at this age and finding peers with similar interests, etc. You can always supplement at home academically for him.

    If you go to Lexington, immediately request in writing that he be tested by LAUSD Psychological Services (IQ testing) so that you will have that when he is old enough to apply for Gifted and HG Magnets within LAUSD. As Angel said, LAUSD won’t accept your private test scores.

    FYI, there are three HG Magnet elementaries within LAUSD: San Jose (as you mentioned, but yes, a big commute unless you move), Multnomah (grades 2-5 and closer to you), and Eagle Rock. Check them out online at echoices on the LAUSD website.

    You are a good parent for thinking about this and pursuing the best for your son. Good luck!

  258. Eve:

    Keep trying to check out Cohasset at and elsewhere online. Ask them for their school report card, a new performance measure tool sent out this year for the first time that gauges them on a variety of measures. Ask when a PTA meeting is held and attend (you don’t have to be a member to go) and ask parents about the school. Hang out on the yard after school and do the same thing. Don’t be shy!

    If Cohasset still doesn’t float your boat, another option is to check out Open Enrollment schools. Each year schools that project they will have more seats and than entering students the next fall open up those seats thru “Open Enrollment.” The list of schools comes out on the LAUSD website in late April. It shows schools with openings and how many. Research those schools online and go talk to any “good” ones that interest you. Then you can enter a lottery in their office to see if your child gets one of the slots; ask them how to do it (each school varies a bit). The trick for you is that you have two children (twins) so it is unlikely both would get in…

    Wish I had more suggestions! Good luck!

  259. We had our daughter tested in Kindergarten by applying for a gifted magnet school (Wonderland). According to the Choices booklet, it is LAUSDs responsibility to have all children applying for gifted magnets tested on LAUSD’s dime. About 10 or so other kindergarten parents at our school did this as well. All of our kids were found to be gifted. When our kids were in 1st grade, as a group we gently nagged the gifted coordinator and the principal to include our kids in the schools gifted program.

    And Elizabeth; I am sorry you tock offence to my remark about fear of brown kids, especially being that it did not apply to you. But this fear is VERY real in most of “white” parents in Silver Lake of pre school age kids whom I have talked to, many who contacted me when they found out I was the “white parent” at Micheltorena. (Now that we have a few more white kids, I am no longer “the:” white parents, I am “a” white parent. Progress!) You wouldn’t believe some of the misconceptions many of these parents have about EL and non western-European (Hispanic, Pilipino, and Armenian) students. Its nuts!! The funny thing is that all these parents tell me they moved to Silver Lake because of the “mixture” of people, the “diversity” but when it comes to their lily white off spring, diversity needs to me mostly white and upper-class. Very un- Silver Lake!!

  260. For anyone interested, Maurice Sendak Elementary is in North Hollywood, on Tiara off of Lankershim Blvd. It’s the big, beautiful brand-new building.

    I did put up a notice on Jen’s List – for those interested, we’re having a gathering at my place on Saturday, March 18th at 3pm (kids welcome – we are going to hire one of our wonderful pre-school teachers to help keep an eye out!) to talk about the school. The meeting will include the former PTA president of the school, who was there for the first two years the school was open (a mere three years ago).

    If you’re interested in attending, drop me a line at


  261. Rebekkah,

    Thanks for responding. I applied for Burbank on permit and I think I will check out the open enrollment schools in LAUSD too. I didn’t realize that was an option. I have already checked on and there wasn’t much said there. I haven’t ruled Cohasset out completely, but it is good to have options.


  262. This is last minute (sorry, just found out myself) but in case anyone in the West Valley is interested, our School Board Member, Tamar Galatzan (District 3), is making a presentation and taking questions regarding the dire budget issues facing the LAUSD.

    Monday, April 13
    6:30-7:30 p.m.
    Dearborn Elementary Auditorium
    9240 Wish Ave, Northridge 91325

  263. Reminder – for anyone in NoHo districted to Sendak Elementary, we’re having an informal parents (kids welcome!) gathering at my place this Saturday, April 18th, from 3pm-5pm.

    Drop me an email for details:

  264. My son is just turning two, and research into preschools has led into questions about elementary schools. We are certainly interested in LAUSD but I don’t even know where to start. We are in Hollywood and our school is Cheremoya, which as far as I can tell will not work. We have friends who will be sending children to Franklin and Ivanhoe. How do I find out about open enrollment possibilities? I know that Wonderland has a good magnet — when do we start that process, when does testing come in? I want to be as reasonable about this as possible (its early I know) but I also don’t want to miss steps I need to take: charter? other magnets? ect. Some general direction would be great. Or any further info about this area. Thanks. Jan

  265. Dylan – 2 years
    i live in the Carthay Circle
    I want to try to get my son into Wonderland Magnet, but i do not understand the point system.

  266. Hi Zoe,

    The points system is basically a way to rank applications based on certain criteria. Remember, magnets are a desegregation program, so the points are meant to favor desegregating schools.

    A student presently in a magnet would receive 12 points upon matriculating from one magnet to another.

    Siblings who will be attending the same school at the same time would receive an additional 3 points.

    If the school in your neihgborhood is predominantly hispanic, black, asian or other (PHBAO), the student receives an additional 4 points.

    And if a school is over crowded by LAUSD standards (which typically means 3-track year round only), then the student receives an additional 4 points.

    The most points a student can receive is 23, however, how many points needed depends on how many spots a school has and how popular it is with families.

    Each year you are turned down for a magnet spot, they also give you 4 points, so getting rejected 3 years in a row is the same as graduating from a magnet.

    Parents who want to play the odds will apply to magnets they’re not likely to get into just to get those rejection points. You could start applying the December before your son goes to Kindergarten, and since there are only a few kindergarten magnets, you will apply and hope to get rejected. DURING the first few months of kindergarten, you’ll need your son’s kindergarten teacher to identify your son as gifted in order to apply to Wonderland.

    Does that help at all? Ask additional questions, and I’ll see what I can do to answer.

  267. HI.

    I have two children who will be a grade apart once they start school. My son is 17 months old and my daughter is 2 months old. We currently live in Elysian Valley (right near the intersection of the 5 freeway and the 110 freeway). Our local elementary school is Dorris Elementary. Its okay, not great, as far as test scores are concerned but the school has no diversity and a considerable portion that are English learners. We have outgrown our house here and our looking to buy soon and rent our current place out, but we are not sure where to move due to schools. We are considering moving out of the Lausd system such as to La Canada, Manhattan beach, Palos verdes or El Segundo. We are also considering moving to an area of West LA with a good public Elementary school. However, we know that the middle and high schools are bad. We will not consider private schools since we feel they are a waste of money. And here goes my question, should we just move to where we want to live without much regard to schools and hope to get into a LAUSD magnet or open enrollment? Because my husband would really prefer to live in West LA, but we do not know what to do once middle school comes around move again or hope for a magnet/open enrollment/charter. what can we do to better our chances of getting into a good magnet/charter/open enrollment/etc.?? This is assuming our kids are good students and not troublemakers, we are hoping for the best.

    P.s. I graduated high school in 1994 and went to San pedro high, Dodson Middle school magnet, and south shores magnet and I remember that things were easier in those days as far as schools were concerned.

  268. Martina – The standard disclaimers about worrying about future school quality should apply doubly when you are worried about middle school and high school quality a decade from now. That’s an awful long time for things to change and for you to help lay the groundwork for change. Having said that, there are a lot of people already active in that part of town improving things at the middle school and high school level and you can free ride on their efforts. Don’t be fooled by the test scores into thinking the schools don’t have strong programs and strong kids. Emerson, Palms, Paul Revere, and New West Charter are all solid and draw kids from the three local Westwood elementary schools, plus Overland and Clover. Even Webster has an SAS program that has drawn some praise. At the high school level, I know plenty of neighborhood kids choosing University High for next year and the school seems to have a great gifted students coordinator. Hamilton’s magent programs (Performing Arts; Humanities) are also popular and Palisades Charter School continues to attract kids from far and wide. Moreover, you also have LACES in the general vicinity for 6-12 if you go the magnet route. I certainly wouldn’t avoid West LA because of concerns about middle or high school, either now or ten years from now.

  269. Hello Yentas,

    I have a daughter who will be going into the 8th grade, September of ’09. My daughter was tested for gifted two or three times during elem and for the last few years my wife has been filling out the CHOICES brochure for SOCES. Long story short, we found out today that my daughter has been accepted for the ’09-10 school year. She was really looking forward to graduating from her current school, Portola, with many of her friends she’s known since elem. I also have two sons who’ve been tested for gifted multiple times (one missed the qualification by one point) and are in the 4th and 5th grades. We’ve been doing the CHOICES brochures for them as well for the last couple/three years or so. With our daughter in, I’m hoping that would mean our boys would be a “shoe-in” as well.

    Here’s the problem. I don’t want to uproot her for her “graduating year” at Portola. She is a straight “A” student, in the honor society and on the Dean’s List. I do however want her at SOCES because our local options are Taft or Reseda High when she graduates 8th. I wish there was a way I could decline for her 8th grade year, then put her in SOCES for 9th. Any advice or guidance you could offer would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

    • Hi Shaka,

      You can call SOCES and ask, but truthfully, since this is a voluntary program, I can’t see any way around your daughter taking the spot for which you applied, or losing your hard earned points. This is rare, but it happens and you’ll just have to look at things a little differently.

      Perhaps they can offer to set you up to meet some current SOCES families and your daughter can still remain friends with the kids from Portola, while gaining a whole new set of SOCES friends.

      • Thanks for the reply Angel! Since I posted that, me and my wife decided to send her to SOCES. I was somewhat emotional at first, because that’s my princess and I wasn’t happy for her, thinking that if I was in her position I’d be quite upset. That passed and the parent kicked back in. Her being in a school like SOCES through high school and hopefully being challenged academically more than she is at Portola (the child practically just breathes and gets A’s) is well worth the potential, temporary, emotional disturbance caused by the ill time transition.

        Sometimes we have to make the tough decisions and this was one, but one which I believe will bear greater fruit in her life than going to Taft or Reseda once she’s graduated from Portola. Thank you again for your time and the excellent information you’ve provided here. Wish I’d had it when the kids were just starting out. At least now, with her in SOCES, my sons will have a better shot of getting in at an earlier grade.

  270. Hello.

    Does anyone have any experience with the 32nd St./USC Visual and Performing Arts? I’m going to an open house there, but it would be great to hear some opinions from other folks.


  271. Hi – help – we live in Studio City area – but our home school is Valley View Elementary…We have a 4 year old girl who is gifted (or at least ahead of her age level) – any suggestions for a summer school/camp that is a good transition to LAUSD school…Any feedback on Valley View?


    • Sue — I see that the Magnet Yentas haven’t gotten back to you yet. I’m a parent at Valley View and just want to say it’s a really great school. It’s tiny — less than 210 students in K-6 — so it has a very, very strong sense of community. You really can feel that you know everybody there, and that your participation, whether in a child’s classroom, or through the PTA, etc, really makes a difference. I’d be happy to talk to you about the school in more detail if you like. My email is And for anyone else reading this, Valley View has quite a lot of spaces open for next year via Open Enrollment. For more info, call the school at 323-851-0020 and speak to our wonderful principal, Harold Klein.

  272. Hi.

    I asked a question here earlier regarding West Los Angeles Schools and received some very useful information. Thanks you. We are in the market to buy a home and another area we are considering is Westchester. My kids who are both under 2 attend day care in this area and we really like the diversity of the kids in day care. Does anyone have any inside information on these schools? All the information that I have is from Our kids are white in case that makes a difference for admissions.


    • Martina – The public schools in Westchester are now part of the Family of Schools (FoS) in partnership with Loyola Marymount University (LMU). Most of the Westchester schools held discussions with their teachers, administrators and parents over a period of about 18 months and became the first LAUSD schools to enter the so-called i-Division (now known as i-Design Schools). The Westchester Playa Education Foundation (WPEF) took the lead in this effort to create more local control over decisions about leadership, academic program and budget at their own public schools. This is a work in progress and honestly, I’m not sure how their notion of “autonomy” will survive in the current fiscal climate. I could go into more detail here but I think you should contact the folks at WPEF for more authentic answers to your questions:

      Bill Ring

  273. Hi Everyone:

    I’m so glad I found you! Thanks in advance for any help— My son just finished his first year in Kinder on a childcare permit at Mar Vista Elementary and overall it’s been fantastic! Now, we got into Brentwood Science. Can’t figure out what to do. I’m not psyched to pull him out of a great school but could if it were worth it. So questions then are how do people like BWS/how can I find out the real deal about it? I’ve heard mixed reviews… and is there a difference between getting in there now– and losing my points…. if I did do it and was in the magnet already, would that put me at any magnet advantage for middle school or is it the same if I start all over again and gather my points to 12 up—because he is just going to be in first grade I would lose my magnet points, I understand that— but there is time to rebuild, right? Or is it like if I got into a magnet I shouldn’t pass up the chance? Thanks so much! EF on West Side

    • Tough questions, Elizabeth.

      If you love the school you’re in, you definitely have time to rebuild. The only caveat I’d warn about now is that with all the interesting budget issues coming up, the childcare permit has to be renewed yearly and could conceivably be NOT renewed due to overcrowding or lack of space. I’m not saying that *will* happen, but it’s a possibility.

      Plenty of kids switch schools in first, so that should not be a concern, but if you really, really like the school you’re at now, you should see if Brentwood would give you a tour, let you talk to a few parents, mull it over and make a decision in the next few weeks.

      We can’t make the decision for you, but I know you’ll make the right decision.

    • Hi EF on the WS (#291)

      Here’s the deal. If you are happy at Mar Vista El, then I would suggest you stay there. Plenty of people would love to be there on your lucky permit. You still have plenty of time to continue to make up magnet points for middle school (begin applying in the winter of 2nd Gr) and chances are better that you will get a magnet slot in 4th or 5th grade when the class size ratio goes up to 31:1 thereby opening up a few additional spots, and you can switch schools then. Remember if you matriculate 5th grade from a Magnet, you come out with the same 12 points you would have had to accumulate in 3 years of trying and getting waitlisted. My advice? You are happy. So stay the course.

      But, just to drive yourself nuts, go to Brentwd Sci and ask to have a 20 min visitation which is required by law, btw. Or check out one of their fundraisers or school events before the year closes and scope out the campus and the community. You will get a gut knowing and know what is best. Trust this feeling. It is the parent holy grail.

      FWIW, you are not the first parent to wonder about Middle school. But somehow, someway, all those bright kids that came out of MV El ended up somewhere, right? Inquire. Ask around. Magnets are not the only options….charters, SAS or Gifted programs, Open Enrollment, other permits….moving to Santa Monica….or Portland, hahahaha!

      Good luck with your decision. You will know what to do.

      Tanya Anton

      Author, “Westside Guide to Public Elementary Schools:
      Navigating Magnets, Charters, Permits & More”

  274. Hi – oy, dilemna of dilemnas. My daughter (currently K, entering 1st in sept.) was waitlisted at Wonderland Gifted Magnet. We had come to terms with her not getting in. It saved us from making a difficult decision. Our local school is Franklin Elementary in Los Feliz. It is a fantastic school and great commmunity of parents and kids. We love walking to school. Her teacher this year has been extremely attentive to her needs in the classroom, keeping her engaged (she’s reading at 3rd grade level, so kinder Open Court can be tedious). We actually think the next two years of teachers can keep her engaged, we’re not sure about beyond that (not a comment on teachers AT ALL, just about her level of academic needs then and the growing class sizes as the grades go up).

    Well, today I get the call on the way to work that a spot has opened up for her at Wonderland. I’ve heard great things about the Wonderland program. Some “review” sites I read today, however, had some negative comments about the program, the parent organization, I guess there was a bad principal (although somebody new started this past fall). We’re hesitant to move her because of the strength of the community, but it means she will lose her accumulated points, reducing her chance of getting into a magnet by 3rd or 4th grade. But, we want to do what’s best for her in the long run. (private school will not be an option for us, most likely anywhere down the line). On the one hand, I feel like we’ve won the lottery, on the other I fear putting her into a “rigid academic” setting with no foothold in a community.

    Would welcome any advise from the board and most especially and comments/experience from CURRENT Wonderland magnet parents.

    Thanks in advance, so happy to have found this active/invaluable board (via Google, of course!!)

  275. Oh, just wanted to add that one of the many great assets of Franklin Elementary that we are hesitant to leave behind is the after-school enrichment program, so I’d be eager to hear first hand experience of the Wonderland after-school program.

  276. Hi- My husband and two sons James, 4 and Wynn, 2 are returning to Los Angeles. James will be turning 5 in March and we are hoping to move into a neighborhood with a good public school/pre-school. My husband is dead set on living near public transit (the red line) and I am hoping to avoid living in the Valley. We’ll be renting and I’m worried that places by the better schools will have much higher rents then we can afford. Do you have any suggestions about areas/schools we should look at?

  277. Hi Mark,
    My daughter was also accepted to Wonderland in 1st grade. We were very surprised; we only applied to get the district to test her for gifted and didn’t think we had a chance of getting in.
    Well we visited the school and well were not happy. We are not a well off family or even middle class so we were never going to be able to donate as much as the school expected. And they had no after school program, our daughter would need to be on a bus at 6:30 AM (that was so not going to happen) and we would need to pick her up each day by 3:00 or so (at the time both the husband and I were getting off work after 4:00PM). And we LOVE being close to her school, having her friends also be our neighbors (so helpfully on days when we were running late). No need to drive her to play with friends, she can walk to everyone’s house!
    We turned Wonderland down.
    We are happy with our choice; her teachers have been very supportive, they are really good at teaching all the gifted students at the level they are- my daughter is in 3rd grade and doing 6th grade math and 5th grade reading, as are about 10 other kids in her class. (Her current 3rd grade teacher is planning on staying with this class until 6th grade).

    I have heard NOTHING but great things about Franklin. I am sure you will be able to work with the administration to find the best teacher for your daughter.

    And I would also advise going to as many of the LAUSD workshops and meeting for parents of gifted students. You will learn so much for your fellow parents (and even a few things from the LAUSD staff)

    Good luck.

    Micheltorena Street School Mom

    • Doreet,

      Thank you for your reply. Was this recently that your daughter was accepted, because you mention that Wonderland offered no after-school program, but they seem to have an enrichment program now. Is this a new thing. We’re wrestling with those same issues you mention. We’re going the director of the program to ask some questions, but honestly, the teachers and staff seem a little put off that we’re even asking questions. It seems a very rigid environment. We’re also going to go in to discuss the situation with the principal at Franklin. I just want to do what’s best for my daughter and unfortunately have not crystal ball about where she’ll be (or Franklin/LAUSD) 2-3 years from now. I just hate having to lose the points she accumulated. That was our hope that she’d accumulate points and get into magnet program in 3rd grade, but that’s all out the window now!!

      Any other replies/comments welcome.



  278. Hi Mark
    We were offered the Wonderland spot about 3 years ago and at that time they did not have a free after school program (money was very tight at that time).
    We too received that “we are the educational experts, how dare you question us” response.
    And yes, go to the Franklin Principal- After we got the Wonderland letter, we and a group of other Micheltorena parents (many of them who received offers at other magnet programs) Went to the Micheltorena principal and strongly requested the school improve the gifted program (at the time we had no gifted coordinator) luckily for us, one of the teachers was interested in being the gifted coordinator. Well the principal found some money; she made the interested teacher the coordinator and started an all grade after school gifted program.

    And magnet points can always be re earned. Who knows, you may love Franklin so much you keep your daughter there until middle school, and have enough point to send her to the ideal meddle school (that is our plan).
    Best of luck!!


  279. Hi, we are moving to Reseda this week and I’m just wondering if there’s some Valley preschool I should be hip to for my 18 mo old’s future start in the education process. I was going to take him to Joyce’s in Toluca, but I’d rather have him close to home for the sake of my separation anxiety. Thanks for any tips. Really! Great thanks.

    • Pamela:

      I am no authority but here are a few local center-based (non home care) quality preschools I know about within driving distance of Reseda — these are just off the top of my head, I know there are more.

      Bright Horizons Northridge Hospital, Cantara St. (behind the hospital)
      Kirk of the Valley Church Preschool (on Vanowen)
      Shepherd of the Hills Preschool on Rinaldi in Porter Ranch
      Casa Montessori Northridge on Lassen St.

      Of course, some are quite pricey but… you get what you pay for, IMHO. Good luck!

  280. Hi! I was frantically looking over the internet for some information about Kester Avenue Elementary, and luckily I found you!!! My daughter is about to start kindergarten in the fall – 2009/2010. I applied to several schools through open enrollment as my home school in Arleta doesn’t seem to be a good fit at all.

    We were accepted to some schools, not exactly my favorites, but decided to settle for Dearborn Avenue Elementary, in Northridge as our choices were limited. We attended a kindergarten orientation, met the teachers, and felt it was a good school for our child. Yesterday we were notified by mail, to our surprise, that were also accepted to Kester. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to attend the kindergarten orientations provided by the school in the past, but have heard that Kester is a really great school – not sure if it means the magnet or the home school as well.

    My daughter loves music and the arts. Kester seems to offer these things and more according to its website. However, I wonder if these programs are only available through the magnet program or if the home school also offers them. Location wise, Kester is much further for us, but I don’t mind the drive as long as it means that she will be receiving a better education and taking advantage of more enriching activities than at Dearborn. At this point I am not sure whether to enroll her at Dearborn, which is a School For Advanced Studies,(SAS), and apply to the Kester Avenue Magnet for first grade next year, or enroll her at Kester now for kindergarten. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Julie!
      I’m not an expert on either Dearborn or Kester, but I’ll point a Kester Dad to this post and hopefully he’ll be more help.

    • Julie: My son just completed first grade (magnet) at Kester. There is definitely more music and art in the magnet than he had in kindergarten at Kester, but its a wonderful school in spite of the inevitable budget cuts. I don’t know anything about Dearborn or whether the SAS designation means anything at the kindergarten level, but one thing to ask the yentas about open enrollment is this: because your child is admitted for kindergarten through open enrollment does it necessarily mean that she will be able to continue in Kester thereafter (assuming she does not get into the magnet program)? I seem to remember some children in my son’s kindergarten class were not enrolled for 1st grade at Kester because Kester was not their home school. Good luck with your decision. I wish I could be of more help. There is only one magnet 1st grade class at Kester so spaces are at more of a premium than many people are aware.

  281. Thanks for the Kester info, Kester Dad. Open enrollment is for the span of the school–kindergarten through 5th grade, 6th-8th, and 9-12. What could have been happening is they were on childcare permits, which are renewable each year.

    This is such a tough call, and one that only you can make. I couldn’t encourage you to accept an opening nearly sight unseen, but at the same time, you should feel good about the choice you make.

    Dearborn is an arts prototype school where she will see art, drama, and dance, which seems pretty arty to me. There is also additional afterschool enrichment, although I suspect that won’t kick in for kindergarten, but a bit later when the kids are more autonomous.

    I’d talk to Dearborn again, and see what Kester can tell you regarding your specific art and curriculum questions.

    Good luck.

  282. 1) C, 12/16/05
    2) public pre-k/K
    3) Palms
    4) Palms Elem

    My oldest son C is 3 and half and currently attends a private preschool, which we love, but we’re currently attending on a partial scholarship and even so are struggling to pay tuition. Since he won’t make the Dec 2(?) cut-off for Kindergarten in 2010, we’d really like to send him to a public pre-k rather than keeping him in our private preschool for another year (especially since our youngest son will also then be preschool age and no way can we afford to send them both at the same time).

    But I can’t find ANY info on public pre-k’s. Which schools have them? Do I literally have to call every elem school in a ten mile radius? How do you get in, particularly if I want to send him to one that isn’t part of our neighborhood school (Palms Elem, which if anybody has any thoughts about…please share! So far I have not been excited about sending him there).

    I think I’ve sort of, kind of (not really) worked out the whole magnet/open enrollment/the joy of CHOICES by reading nearly all the previous comments, but what happens if you do get into this hypothetical public pre-k? Can you continue on to its kindergarten program and beyond? Or do you have to re-open enrollment it (assuming that you get into the pre-k through open enrollment to begin with).

    Last question, which probably should have been my first: Do non-special ed pre-k’s in LAUSD exist? Am I just trying to dream them into existence?

    Sorry if this is rather confusing. I’m rather confused myself. 🙂 Thanks so much!

    • Unfortunately, I can’t help with any listing of pre-k programs, but I can answer your question, “Do non-special ed pre-k’s in LAUSD exist? Am I just trying to dream them into existence?”.

      Driving past my local public elementary (Toland Way), I noticed a poster advertising “Free Pre-K, Register Now!” I called the school office, and they confirmed that they do offer free Pre-K for any student who will turn 4 years old before December 2. My daughter is too young to enroll for next year, but assuming it doesn’t become a victim of LAUSD’s budget crisis, we’ll try to enroll next year. It will also be a good introduction to the school itself, so we can determine whether it’s a good fit for us.

      Toland Way also has an Early Education Center, which they referred me to when I said my daughter was too young. It sort of makes sense that schools with an EEC might offer Pre-K to “close the gap” between that program and Kindergarten.

      I know it’s not ideal, but your best bet might be to call a few local schools and ask.

      • Thanks, Michara. I thought there were pre-K programs at some schools, but haven’t seen one in a dozen years since my son attended school in the East Valley.

        Glad to know they still exist, and if need be, a little poking around should find one.

    • As far as I know, Charnock elementary and Nora Sterry Elementary in west LA has public pre-K program. Clover Avenue has a wonderful program, too, but I believe it is only for the kids in the neighborhood. Good luck!

  283. Kester Dad

    Thank you so much for your input on Kester. It really seems to be a wonderful school as I have been getting only positive feedback.
    You are right about the magnet though, there is only one class in 1st grade, so I should consider what the school has to offer in the regular program as well.

    I have to say I’m leaning towards Kester but I’ll definitely try to get more info as to what is offered at the regular classes.

    Thanks again for your help!

  284. Hi Angel!

    Thank you so much for referring the Kester Dad to me. It is always great to hear from someone whose child is currently at the school and is having a very good experience.

    I’ll follow your advice and visit both schools again to ask the specific questions about art programs and curriculum as well.

    At the end, as so many other parents have been advised to do on this site, we have to follow our instincts and hope the choice is right. However, I still feel very lucky to being able to make a choice at all – there are flaws in the school public system, but at least to the parents who are involved and who care about finding a school that is more appropriate for their children, there are resources and options out there. Wherever my daughter might end up going to, I’ll be sure to be involved and help make the school a better place for her. I guess there is not a “perfect” school – it is a team effort and what we make of it.

    Thanks for such a helpful site!

  285. my daughter ella is 5.6 and entering kindergarten this fall ’09. we live in studio city/north hollywood (sometimes our address is toluca lake as well). our local school is rio vista elementary. we tried to get into colfax but will not be going there since our lottery # is 59. we will be attending rio vista. any insights or helpful input?

    • First off, Susan, congrats on having an almost Kindergartener. The school’s website is located here:

      And its API is over 800. While people will tell you about their 950+ API schools, the reality is that plenty of people are happy with schools in the high 700s and 800s. And the school garners an 8 on the GreatSchools ratings. Their GreatSchools page is located here:

      It looks like the principal is retiring, so you’ll have a new principal next year. As a parent in a school where the principal changed between kindergarten and first grade, all I can say is keep an open mind, and realize this can be the opportunity of a lifetime.

      I’ll hope someone more NoHo centric pops in, but make sure you attend any and all parent/family/kinder mixers and volunteer for everything! 🙂

      Good luck!

  286. My son, Allan is entering kindergarden this fall (’09), we live in Chatsworth, CA and our public home school is Germain Street Elementary. The public school agenda is about a year behind Allan’s level, we don’t have enough money to send him to a private school… I want to apply for Balboa Mangnet School for him the next following school year (2010-2011). I heard you can apply for Valley Alternative Mangnet School to get points to get into Balboa Mangnet, I know he has to get a recommendation from his principal, and take a test? My concern is that he might forgotten his progress in private preschool by wasting his time in the public school kindergarden? What should I do? Allan is a little hyper active, would that be a stopper for him to try for Mangnet school?

    • Vivien,

      You could have applied to Valley alternative for points this year, as they do have a kindergarten, but the application was due back in January. That said, don’t panic. Plenty of kids got into Balboa from other North Valley schools with 4 or fewer points. In fact, it surprised parents who had to decide whether to stay at my daughter’s school or go to Balboa when they were just seeking points.

      What you will need to do is talk to his teacher, not necessarily the principal. At the November conferences, as the teacher points out how advanced he is, then ask if he meets the criteria for applying to Balboa. Then the teacher fills out the form, and your son will be good to go. He won’t be tested until at the end of first grade at the earliest, and he could already be at Balboa. You can ask for testing, but schools typically like to wait until second grade actually so that false negatives don’t crop up because the kid gets nervous or doesn’t know the test giver.

      Kids with ADHD aren’t barred from Balboa or any magnet, in fact, it almost seems to be part of being smart.

      Last thing. please don’t look at a year at a school like Germain as “wasting time.” Your son will learn plenty there, because it is a great school (I’ve had plenty of friends with kids there) and the biggest challenge kindergarten teachers have is that some kids come in with no preschool, and other kids come in already reading. Even within the same class, kids will be grouped and challenged. Trust me.

      Good luck, and let us know what happens.

  287. I have a son who just turned 2 yesterday. My husband and I have been talking about where to start him in school and don’t know quite where to start. We live in Carson and are willing to check out anything in the South Bay area. We are not in any hurry but would like to have a starting point. Suggestions on local schools? And maybe suggestions for future schools as well and what we will need to give him the best opportunity to get into a school we find and like?

    • Hi T,

      Well happy birthday to your little one. I’m not too familiar with the South Bay area, so my answer is going to sound pretty generic. Hopefully we’ll get some traffic here that’s a little better equipped to handle your area.

      With one so young, you still have preschool (or not, neither of mine went) to deal with, and then pre-k, and then kindergarten. Then you wrestle with whether you keep him in the private pre-k/kinder/elem, or you go public at some point.

      Since he’s two, start striking up conversations with parents at the park, at birthday parties, and friends you both work with. Talk to each other and get your philosophies down. Check out sites like (and use their ratings with a grain of salt, as often they’re either Stepford-wife Fabulous or Fatal Attraction bad). Decide if you’re willing to move, or if you really like where you’re living. And VISIT your neighborhood school with an open eye. See if it has that hidden gem material that with a couple of years of volunteering can turn it into the place your child will flourish.

      Good luck, and let us know what you find out.

  288. Welcome, T,

    Carson is well beyond my sphere of experience, but hopefully someone more South Bay related can help.

  289. Help! I’m completely overwhelmed. Husband just dropped the bomb that we’ll be relocating from San Francisco to LA. He’ll work in downtown. We’d like to live somewhere nearby (bohemian, nature, parent-friendly), but school is our top priority. I spent over 18 months figuring out the SF school lottery assignment system and our 5-year-old had gotten into an amazing school – Creative Arts Charter School (project-based, arts, non-standard curriculum, etc.) and now I need to find him a new school quick!

    1) Theo – born 7/2/04
    2) Kindergarten
    3) Neighborhood TBA: thinking Mt. Washington, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Los Feliz
    4) What your local public school is: How do I even find out official boundaries?
    5) Extenuating circumstances that may apply? Theo is a high energy child, evaluated for an IEP but didn’t qualify due to high test scores, he has some sensory integration issues (sensory seeking for movement and deep pressure) and is on a watch for ADHD. Dad was like this as well and hated school – so we’d really like to find him something alternative, hands on, and public.

    Please, please magnet yentas, help a girlfriend out!

    • Corinne:

      Welcome, girlfriend! Good for you to find this site before moving! Read all you can here — you will learn lots.

      You can go to the website and find out about local schools with the “School Finder” menu link. Unfortunately it works best with an actual address…if you type in address, it will tell what the local schools are (to which you can’t be denied admission). You can also go to the School Board District maps and it shows which schools are where on the map, so that can help you narrow it down to the ones in your target home area. Each school usually has a map of its boundaries in their office as well if you visit in person. But most offices are closed this summer until late August.

      Once you have a list of schools, you can see what programs each has. You can see if the schools are in the SAS (Schools for Advanced Studies – gifted clustering programs) as a list is on the LAUSD website under Gifted options, which have music/art programs, which are magnets (which require you to apply in advance thru CHOICES points system), etc.

      Other options are Charter Schools, which might offer the best “alternative” options for you — search for “Charter” on the LAUSD website and you can find a list of all charter schools. Then you can research them. Each is individually run with different teaching philosophies and approaches.

      You can also check the Open Enrollment lists from this past spring; though the application period has passed, if a school still has openings they might accept your son.

      I don’t know schools in the area you mention, sorry. In the Valley, you might consider Valley Alternative, Hesby Oaks, and CHIME Charter School.

      If you end up in an LAUSD public school, talk to the Principal and/or Asst. Principal about concerns with your son’s special needs and how they might address that. Each school varies in “flexibility” in that regard.

      Be sure to read up about the magnet system and CHOICES points system on this Yenta site — this is the most confusing aspect of LAUSD school choice and you should understand it coming in… if you need help, ask! You have missed the deadline for entry into a magnet this fall but should plan to apply in December for first grade if you so choose.

      Good luck! Perhaps other Yentas who know Silver Lake/Los Feliz area can help with more specific advice… ladies?


      • Thank you, Rebekka, for the warm welcome and great info! I’ve been all over the lausd website and talked with a half dozen people there and in the District 4 office.

        One important technical question for you or anyone else reading this… Please let me know if I’ve got this correctly: If we find a rental in say the Mt. Washington area, check on the lausd website that the address feeds into Mt. Washington elementary as its neighborhood school, sign a lease by 8/1, and get a utility bill in our name by 8/19, then we can show up to the school on 8/19 (or 8/23, whenever it opens) with paperwork in hand and they will have to let us in. It almost seems too simple. I’m concerned that we’ll sign a one year lease then get denied from the school because it has already had pre-enrollment and hit capacity.

        Same question for other highly regarded neighborhood schools in the area. Do they really have to let you in if you prove residency and show up on the first day the school opens after summer break?

        Does anyone have suggestions of other schools to target within a 20-30 minute commute to downtown? Ideally, we’d like to find an area that we could afford to buy in (say $600K for a 2-3 bedroom house) in a year or two.

        Kudos to everyone for the time and energy put into this site. It’s a wonderful resource.

        Looking forward to being neighbors with some of you soon.


  290. I live in the weird West Culver City panhandle (within a few blocks distance of Short Elementary). My son J will be enrolling for Kindergarten in 2010. His local school would be La Ballona; we took a kindergarten tour of the school this spring and did not feel that it would be a good fit. What are the odds of getting into EL Marino? Does it matter which immersion program we select? What about intra-district transfer to a different school?

  291. Hi Corinne,
    Oh my how overwhelming!! Heck, I am stressed just reading about what you will be doing!!!

    I am a Silver Lake public school mom of a soon to be 4th grader. I can assure you all Silver lake schools are fine schools. I would advise you find the house you LOVE in the neighborhood you LOVE and you will most likely be able to make the school work for your son and your family. If not, all but a few have open enrollment.

    Here is my take on some of our local elementary schools:
    Clifford: I know a few parents at Cliffiord and they all LOVE it. A very small school. Small schools have good and bad: Good- fewer students for the principal to get to know, less stress for children who are freaked by big crowds, and bad- more chance for ”split grades” less chance for students who are “different” (like a girl who hates Hanna Montana and all the other girls love HM or the boy who is way into Sci-Fi comic books and the other boys love sports) to find a social group. And fewer kids in gifted, band ect. Due to how small every year they are threaded with closer OR being turned in to a middle school. I also know of a small group parents in the Micheltorena bounderies (who are unhappy with the idea of sending their kids to a school were whites are less then 1% of the student body. I am not making that up, these paretns have told me this) who are planning on “storming in and taking over” Cliffiord. (Note: don’t go into a school and say “we are here to fix this failing school” or “we are here to make this school a school the middle class neighbors can send their kids to”. This will do nothing but get you ostracized by the already active parents. And these parents have POWER. Just be cool and don’t assume that all LAUSD schools that are not 40% white are all “bad”)
    Mayberry- I have met some very active parents who love this school. I also know a teacher who’s stepchildren (these kids do not live with her) go to Mayberry and this teacher/ step parent does not like the school. Mayberry is a very nice campus, lots of new stuff and great murals. I have found many of the white parents from Mayberry are in a “cult of fear” about middle school and the out side world (Note- this may or may not be justified, I like King Middle and look forward to sending my daughter there in a few years, but based on test scores, I can see why some parent are fearful). What surprises me is that so few of the fearfully parents have visited King or even know a King family.
    Allesandro- I have no info on this school, but it is RIGHT UNDER a freeway.
    Dorris Place: Great school garden and a cool principal.
    Logen- I hate to spread rumors about any school, but I too have heard some less then positive things about Logan. Most of these reports are from the few parents I know who are sending their children to Micheltorena instead of Logan as well as from a few parents still at Logan. Regrettable most of the completes’ come from parents with limited English skills and I speak no Spanish. I would recommend you visit the school.
    Elysian Heights: way improving test scores “divers” student body and a student’s garden. Small school (see notes in “Clifford” on my views on small vs. big schools).

    Micheltorena- (my daughters school) OK, I love our school; the parents, students, teachers and admin. I will not say all the teachers are great (a few are less then good, but we can talk about that some other time if and when we every meet), but we have at least ½ dozen teaches who are OUTSTANDING!!!!. And we have a great principal and assistant principal. Our students are cool, funny and really divers, both in ethnicity and personality. With a student body of about 400, everyone can find a place to fit in. We have new science labs, a new kinder playground, we will have a new 1- 6th grade playground structure by fall 2009 and a Wonder of Reading Library by Spring of 2010. We have instrumental and vocal music, a nurse 3 days a week, FREE before AND after school child care (not just babysitting but enrichment) our test scores are in the high 700, we have a great gifted program. For parent involvement we have a booster group (friends of Micheltorena Street School) a PTA, a Title one parent committee, a ELS parent committee, a School Site Council, a library committee, a History Committee and a Local Leadership Committee. All these committee’s have parents, community, teachers, staff and administration on them. And we do not have that Cult of Fear among the parents.
    We do have a few problems- The cafeteria food sucks, the building is old and at any given time a toilet or drinking fountain may not work. Most parent meetings will be in Spanish with English translation. the principals email is she will get back to you as soon as she gets back in August.
    Need more info? My email
    Good Luck

  292. 1) P 4/06
    2) K-6
    3) Valley Village
    4) Monlux
    5) No extenuating circumstances that I can come up with.

    My husband and I are not from CA, we are from towns where there is one elementary school and thats where you go. We are exhausted with all the chatter around us about which school is great and which school is garbage and everyone throwing up their hands and shelling out $25K a year so their kids can learn their ABCs amongst the children of equally confused people.

    Having said all that, our daughter will start kindergarten in 2011. We have been pointed toward Carpenter, Colfax, Dixie Canyon, Sherman Oaks Elementary, Roscomare and Wonderland. I vaguely remember hearing about the Choices website and points and PHBAO andother equally weird sounding things, but I don’t know how it all works. My husband and I both have advanced degrees and are successful in our chosen fields but this seems much too hard to be believed.

    Where do we start? Should we even care right now? I don’t want to be the crazy mom who overthinks it all but I don’t want to flake out and miss the boat entirely. Help!


    • Hi Jennifer,

      You’ve so succinctly pointed out the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality of public school education, there’s little left for me to add 🙂 My first suggestion is going to be to go check out your home school of Monlux. Like you pointed out, our parents all dropped us off at the school down the street and we all turned out fine. There is so much more information that I think parents get drunk on it all, and make some really irrational choices–unless however spending more than college tuition on 5 year olds is normal.

      All of the schools you’ve mentioned are great, and those might be options, too. But you won’t be filling out a Choices brochure until December 2010, and then looking at open enrollment in Spring 2011. Between now and then, and especially in the current economic crisis, there may be another school that pops onto the radar (and it could be Monlux).

      What I’d do in January is call Monlux and find out when their kindergarten orientation for 2010 is. And go just to listen. That will give you a basis for what to do next. If you like what you see, or you think that with a little “spit and polish” the school would be a great starting point for your daughter, ask about their PTA or PTO or if they have a “future families” group. Even ask to volunteer there now, and get to see how it works before you child even starts (and as a working parent, this might mean reading to kindergarteners one day a month on your lunch hour, or volunteering to sell the popcorn on family movie night).

      I *promise* to explain the entire magnet system to you if you attend the kindergarten orientation and it doesn’t seem like the right place for your daughter. But since you’re willing to be practical and don’t want to be the crazy mom, I’m going to encourage you to take that stance–we need more of you! I see folks avoiding great neighborhood schools in fear the school in someone else’s neighborhood is better, yet, I also know people fighting to get IN to the school they’re fleeing. So let’s start simply and move from there, ok? 🙂

      • Agreed with everything here for sure. We’re in “Valley Village,” but when it comes to LAUSD we’re good ol’ North Hollywood, Maurice Sendak Elementary. I was freaked – then we went to visit. We’re now active and involved with the school, the principal gave my husband and I (separately!) two hour guided tours of the school and met all the teachers, saw the gorgeous new facility.

        Seriously – don’t listen to the chatter, for god’s sake avoid because who knows what disgruntled parents will say, and just visit the schools in the area – get in the “trenches” – it’s the only way :)!

        And if you want to hear more about Sendak, drop me a line any time :)!

  293. Thanks so much magnetangel and Liz! I did some brief preliminary research on Monlux and lo and behold they have a math/science magnet there for 3-5 grades so it could be ok. I would never have known it if you hadn’t told me to check it out before condemning them. I will keep coming to your site and staying current and hopefully we will survive this school thing!

    Thanks a million!


  294. 1) Son just turned 5 mid-July
    2) Debating on holding him back from K or sending on
    3) Woodland Hills
    4) Our school is Serrania

    We had registered our son at Serrania to start K this September and have been dealing with some behavioral, kinesthetic issues in Pre-K over the past yr. We moved pediatricians, last one diagnosed ADHD solely off behavioral checklists from teachers. Now have great ped and are going through further assessments but she has suggested we may want to hold him back from K. Did not have a backup plan since we had fully intended to send him through. We are having first round of assessments through Children’s Hospital Monday but now have 3 weeks until the school year starts. Have been looking at Pre-K and Jr K programs in our area as a backup. Am considering Calabasas Montessori but would love suggestions on other good ones in area that would have less academic pressure in the event we decide its best to hold him back. I was also told by someone not to have him repeat K twice at different schools. We are also dealing with new principal at Serrania -who knows what that means? Any insight/advice you can share would be helpful.

  295. I can’t really speak on the ADHD issue, but I will address the new principal situation.

    Because of the retirement bonus, many principals and older faculty opted to retire this year. New can mean new to you or newly promoted.

    We got a new principal year before last and she was amazing–she came in, weighed situations carefully and listened to all stakeholders before making any heavy decisions. I don’t always agree with her decisions, but I know she’s listened carefully and made the best decision for the long-term.

    With regard to holding him back or letting him go, I’d really suggest seeking the help of the parents in the GreatSchools community. They have a phenomenal force of learning and attention difficulty parents with all sorts of advice and information to read. They’re located here:

    Good luck!

  296. I was just offered a spot at Community Magnet for my soon-to-be fifth grade son. I’m going to take a look at the school with him on Friday. He’s currently in a private school that he loves… what to do? I was holding the magnet points for middle school. Would love to hear from Community Magnet parents… worth the move for one year?

    • Wow. We’re in exactly the same position. (Private school, son going into 5th grade, saving magnet points, admitted to Community Magnet yesterday.) We’re leaning towards keeping him in his current school next year. I’ve heard wonderful things about the Community Magnet, and our decision might be different if this had happened a few years ago, but it doesn’t seem worth it for just one year. Of course, the downside is that it will take us 3 more years to get the magnet points back.

      Please let us know what you decide!

  297. Hi Wendy,

    I can’t give you specifics on Community Magnet, but as for whether a one-year move is worth it, I’d ask a few questions.

    What are your middle school options–both home school and the school you were saving points for? Have you looked at SAS or open enrollment options for middle school and what’s the chances he’ll get in? If he doesn’t get in anywhere, are you going to continue with private school?

    Take him to tour the school on Friday, and talk it over with him. My son was in three schools by second grade, and after that he always felt that a new school just meant more friends because he kept making more at each new place and kept his old friends.

    He may be up for the adventure, or he may really, really want to stay with his friends and “graduate” with his friends. It’s really going to depend on your ability to sweat out the middle school options next year.

    Good luck, and let us know what happens after the tour.

    • Well, we took the tour and loved it. He loved it, but didn’t want to. My mom thinks it’s a good move… a good transition to middle school. They told me at the school that there are a bunch of kids who do it for just one year and they do beautifully. I can’t say it’s an easy decision… but I think it’s worth a try…

  298. 1) First name and birthdate of your child
    Emily April 13, 2003

    2) What grade of school you’re seeking

    3) What part of Los Angeles you’re in
    Hollywood and koreatown

    4) What your local public school is
    Valley View elementary and Wilton Place Elementary

    5) extenuating circumstances
    korean american girl, age 6, with divorced parents, hence 2 local public schools

    Our daughter Emily is currently attending a private school (entering 1st grade next week) that seems to be quite aggressive academically and she seems to be happy there. There are two issues: 1) in this recession, we don’t anticipate being able to continue to send her to this school 2) it is lacking in visual/creative/performing arts enrichment.

    We had her tested privately by a psychologist listed on the Mirman school website and she tested at 146. Her reading comprehension skills scored especially high at 3rd grade reading level (when she was only kindergarten).

    We’ve already committed to her current school for 1st grade but want to be prepared for 2010-11 Choices application. Ideally we would send her to Eagle Rock ES for gifted and/or highly gifted and then continue onto King MS and Marshall HS magnet programs.

    since she won’t be recommended by a public school teacher and hasn’t taken any public school standardized tests, how do we approach the school about getting tested for their highly gifted program?

    Also, we are concerned that regular public schools even with SAS programs or charter schools (ie, Larchmont) are as aggressive as gifted magnet programs and/or private schools. Can you shed any light on this?

    thank you!

    • Jessie:

      First off, check out the gifted pages on this Yenta site (see menu at right on homepage), some of your questions will be answered.

      As for getting your daughter tested, you are lucky in that you have TWO local LAUSD schools. Go to one and put in writing (important) that you would like her tested ASAP by Psychological Services (who does the IQ testing for LAUSD). Even if you are not attending (i.e., are in private school now), the local school must respond to your request. The good news for you is that if one school says no, you can try the other one! I would talk to them personally and show your private IQ testing scores as well, this will bolster your case.

      Hopefully DD will be tested. One note, the “norm” in LAUSD is to test kids as a group at the end of second grade. You may face some push-back suggesting you wait until then as well. Just explain that you need the info this fall before CHOICES process starts. Hopefully they will accommodate you.

      Let me know if you have more questions. Good luck!

  299. Help. It seems like my daughter just got bumped down the waiting list she was on for the coming school year.

    OK, let me start at the begining. My 11 year old daughter who is on the waiting list for the incoming 6th grade class at L.A.C.E.S. was not accepted. Before the end of the school year we got notice that she was on the waiting list at LACES. We called the school and they confirmed this and let us know that she was #3 on the waiting list. We were assured that she was likely to get in and should not panic. We continued to call, until all of the employees at the school went off for their summer break. When they finally came back to work we called again. They said that they had not yet placed the children in the available spots, so to call back in a few days. Once again they confirmed that she was #3 on the waiting list. This was on 8/21/09. So we call back on Tuesday 8/25 only to be told that all the available slots had been filled and that all those slots had been accepted, so no call meant you were not offered a spot. With a little prodding, they then told my wife that our daughter was not #3 on the list but that there was a #5 NEXT TO HER NAME! What course of action do I have. They clearly moved her down to allow someone elses child in. I have heard of stories at this school that with some work (“the right contacts”) you can work to get your child in. I am not suggesting I work the system, but clearly my child was moved down the list for a reason. Oh yes I forgot to mention:

    My oldest daughter currently attends LACES. She will be a junior this year. She is a good student, 4.0 GPA and just got two 5’s on her two AP classes. She went in to school to add a class the week prior to all of this (AP Econ.), she was attended by the Principal who asked after looking at her record/schedule/grades if she had a sibling at the school. My daughter replied that her younger sister was on the waiting list. She was told that if her sister had similar grades to her then her chances of getting in were pretty good.

    Is that what waiting lists are for or how they work? Do schools have this much discretion? Are there any rules governing how these waiting lists work? Who can I call. I do not think the principal would be much help in this situation? HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Sal:

      There is one area of overt discretion with the waitlists and that is with regard to RACE (and yes, sometimes non-overt “pulling strings” means as well). All magnet programs are integration programs and are required to adhere to a specific minority/non-minority ratio. When an opening exists, the school is required to find the student of the “right” race that will maintain that ratio. It is, therefore, possible that your daughter and maybe some of those ahead of her were passed over by another student who was the race for which they were looking… Not fun to hear, but that’s how it can work.

      I agree with Angel… your chances are still VERY good, being so high, and you are likely to get in in September, so don’t give up hope! But yes, ask the principal/magnet coordinator very calmly for an explanation. You deserve it.

      GOOD LUCK!

  300. I would actually contact the magnet coordinator and the principal and ask what happened as calmly as possible. There’s still a chance your daughter will get in since the current class has not shown up to claim their spots (saying they’re coming and showing up are two different things). That said, every place I’ve ever talked to or known what was going on, they’re VERY strict on the wait lists–down to the separate lists by race and the maintaining whichever ratio is in effect.

    I’m wondering outloud, and I have no evidence either way, but I wonder if it has to do with the change in class-size since the magnet letters went out (4th and 5th were scheduled to be in the mid-to-upper 30s per classroom, and now will be at 27). That would honestly wreak havoc with the class size as well as the waiting list.

    The only time I’ve heard of any discretion is that the school can actually still call you up until norm day in early October, and at that point I’ve heard of cases of them skipping down to the parents who had been calling back over and over (since by then most parents won’t want to disrupt their kids a month into school). At that point, it’s a win-win, since very few families want to be ripped out at that point, and if you’d already made other plans you don’t want to lose your wait list points. And if you wanted that spot, you’d have called to ask your chances.

    Hopefully someone else can shed some light on this, but honestly, I’ve never heard of a number change, or what could possibly cause one.

    Please update us and let us know what happens.

  301. ) First name and birthdate of your child
    Scarlet July 30th 2007
    2) What grade of school you’re seeking
    a plan for the future..preschool…through highschool
    3) What part of Los Angeles you’re in
    Eagle Rock
    4) What your local public school is
    Eagle Rock Elementary
    5) extenuating circumstances white

    So our little 2 year old is very advanced, our peditrician suggested we send her to a gifted school or montessori. Montessori is very expensive,so I think that is not an option for us. Scarlet loves numbers, counting, letters, words and art..all of which are her strengths.Of course she does all the other 2 year old stuff.

    I am looking around for a preschool that might suit her, I was thinking of the Garden co_op,,,but that won’t take her until she is older.

    What do I do with her before she can get on the GATE or Magnet program a ER Elementry? From what I understand the children don’t get streamed right away…

    I realize that Eagle Rock Elementary has a GATE and Magnet program, is there much difference between the 2?

    and what are the choices for schools after ER Elementry??

    When should I start applying for the MAGNET programs?

    Many many thanks in advance, I am finding this all very confusing…

    • While I admire planning ahead, you should proceed with caution here. Most child development experts will tell you that an advanced 2 year-old has merely developed universal skills (e.g., reading, counting etc) earlier. It doesn’t automatically mean that they will maintain that advanced ability and it’s not like their peers won’t also be able to master those skills in due course. That’s why most schools don’t test for gifted kids until they are a bit older. Lots of this early development evens out by 1st or 2d grade. Having said that, there are undoubtedly kids who are bored in preschool and kindergarten and that can lead them to tune out school completely. I would suggest enrichment classes at a rec center or other program in the interim and keep your eye on Eagle Rock Highly Gifted Magnet (it is different than GATE because it is for Highly Gifted kids) and ultimately North Hollywood HS, but I wouldn’t get to caught up in all of that quite yet. See how things play out. For example, your kid may be highly gifted in some areas, but not in others. Lots of kids with ADHD have that issue and don’t test well as a result, which often rules out the HG classification.

  302. Thank you for your comment Anon…very very useful!!

    I know Scarlet doesn’t have ADHD…she is exceptionally good at concentrating. But that is interesting that she may even out, I didn’t know that.

    But still good to know what to do in case by 2nd grade she is still ahead, and also what to do in the meantime.

    I come from England where the education system is very different, so I am just finding it difficult to know where to start.

    But you have given me some good pointers here, for which I am very grateful:)

  303. Hi-

    I’m trying to find a good school for my son, who will be starting kindergarten in the fall of 2010. I’m interested in programs that center around a project-based curriculum. Something that also provides some extracurricular activities in the arts, etc. would be nice. I’m partial to schools with higher test scores, but I know they don’t paint the whole picture. We’re open to anything from the South Bay up to anything south of the Valley. We’d prefer not to go farther east then the mid-Wilshire area. Smaller class sizes and a warm environment with parent participation would be nice. Diversity is great. Any recommendations or am I asking for too much?

    • Wow. That’s such a large geographical area! I would hope that your first priority would be to avoid forcing your five year-old into an hour+ commute each way every day. Moreover, many, many LAUSD elementary schools are quite good, welcoming, inspiring etc. So, I would check out your home school before driving from the Westside to the South Bay every morning. Assuming that you are otherwise flexible and would indeed move to an area zoned for a school you like, then you might consider that all of the Westwood elementary schools are highly rated and generally well-liked, Overland and the Mar Vista schools are pretty good and improving, Community Magnet in Bel Air is highly sought after, even if not necessarily better than a Westwood Charter or Roscomere Road, and I’ve heard good things about the parent community in Westchester, which apparently has partnered with Loyola Marymount. Really, there are hidden gems all over the area you described, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it from test scores alone (Carthay Circle is one example; Nora Sterry is another, especially now that it has partnered with UCLA and gives faculty and staff kids priority enrollment). If you narrow things down a bit, you might get some more specific advice.

  304. Thanks! No plans drive my kid all over town! We have some flexibility and mobility here, so am planning to move closer to a desirable school! I’ve been looking at schools in different areas. If we find a charter we can get into that we like, we may consider living in a different neighborhood within a half an hour commute time. So Westside, Culver City, Mid-Wilshire, Hancock Park, West Hollywood are all possibilities.

    • Maria:

      “Best” is highly subjective, of course, but I know of two for which I hear good things… Ivy Academia and CHIME Charter school. Both are in Woodland Hills, I believe.

      Anybody know of others?


  305. Hi there,

    You guys run a wonderful website, and I have used it many times to help figure out what to recommend to parents (I am a tutor). I have been tutoring a girl for two years who is going to enter 7th grade next year, and her parents are considering public school (yay!). She currently goes to a private elementary school in the Palisades and will take the ISEE this winter. Her home school would be Paul Revere Middle School.

    My question is- how can she apply to be in Revere’s SAS program when she does not currently attend an LAUSD school? Based on my work with other students who are in SAS programs, I’m pretty sure she would qualify- but does she need to somehow take California state tests or would a test like the ISEE be an acceptable substitute? Does anyone know how this might work? I have been digging through websites to no avail.

    Thanks so much for your help.

    • Anne:

      Glad the Yenta website is useful to you!

      SAS programs tend to be a little “loosey goosey” as they are administered by the individual school and they all tend to do things a little differently. So… my advice to you would be to ASK Revere how to do it! Call and tell them and ask your question above! Each school can best tell you what they do…

      With that said… the criteria to be applicable for SAS is here:

      Going by that she needs either California Standard Test (CST) scores and/or testing by LAUSD Psych Services. Don’t know about the former but her parents can make a written request to the homeschool (neighborhood school where they live) to have her tested by Psych Services so they can hopefully identify her as gifted in order for her to apply for SAS slots in the spring. (Yes, you can request even if she doesn’t attend LAUSD.) The parents should be explicit with school people that this is their goal; otherwise they may take forever to test and she’d miss the SAS deadlines. I am guessing they’d give her the WISC IV test but that’s not for certain.

      I hope this helps. Anybody else wanna chime in?


      • SAS program quality is all over the place, yes – some of us actually completed an evaluation of them in 2001 and my recollection was that those in the Valley were more likely to be successful with students than those anywhere else. There has been a lot of water under the SAS bridge since then, of course, but my best advice to you is to ask questions of parents of current students and inquire about the school’s SAS coordinator. That position is critical to a successful SAS program. BTW, on the Westside, the Local District 3 Parent Community Advisory Council plans to embark upon a review of our SAS programs this fall.

  306. Wow love all of the insightful comments regarding schools. I live in the 90025 zip code and my home school is Brockton. My 4 year old is attending the SRLDP at Brockton, as I look toward kindergarten next year I want to plan accordingly. The teachers and administrators are very helpful and interested in children learning, I am just selfish and want a population that looks more like my child. Could you suggest a school for my very articulate and already reading four year old? I have looked at the scores and though they are close to the 800 goal others are higher, does this matter?

  307. I admit to not knowing much about schools in the 90025 (I am rather found of your City Council member though), but PLEASE DO NOT LET LOW(ER) TEST SCORES FRIGHTEN YOU. My now 4th grader has gone to a low API school since kindergarten. In 2nd grade she had 97% on the math and 98% on the Language Arts. In 3rd grader she scored 97% in Language Arts and 100% in Math.
    Good luck and enjoy!!!

    Micheltorena Mom

  308. 1) First name and birthdate of your child
    Macey, 4/05
    2) What grade of school you’re seeking
    3) What part of Los Angeles you’re in
    Sylmar 91342
    4) What your local public school is
    5) Extenuating circumstances that may apply?

    Hi I am interested in enrolling my daughter in a school in Granada Hills such as Van Gogh ect. Would be willing to drive to Sunland area, or North valley areas also. Thank you for your help.

    • Hi Sadie,

      If you were to choose the Granada Hills options, you’d find several cars making the daily commute with you–including my family. El Oro Way, Knollwood, and Van Gogh are all excellent options for Sylmar families and a quick commute. You will be looking for open enrollment announcements in the spring.

      If you were to drive towards Sunland-Tujunga, I’ve heard neat things about Apperson and their SAS program.

      In terms of charters, Community Charter in North Hills (near the Northridge border–near the corner of Balboa and Nordhoff) gets a lot of raves from families too.

      • Thanks Angel,

        Do I not need to fill out the choices brochure?? I believe Herrick is PI now so would it be better to apply to the PSC program??? Or do both?? Fill out and see what options I am given and if I am not satisfied with the choices they give me, then try open enrollment at one of the above schools in granada hills. Thanks

  309. Hello,

    My daughter “Miss Thang” will be entering kindergarten in the Fall of 2011. Currently she is in a private preschool in Burbank. We live in Culver City mailing area, but are LAUSD. Our home school is Stoner Avenue. No problem…I am a product of Carthay Center/Emerson MS and then got lucky enough to go to Beverly Hills High through the diversity program. I am a believer in public education and am trying to figure out how to best apply to Community Magnet Charter Elementary. If the magnet deal doesn’t work out I would love to know the best way to get into Fairburn, Warner or even Roscomare. I just need something on the westside so it can be on my way to work in Burbank. Can I apply to magnets and PWT at the same time? Thanks!!!

    • I’ll let parents more Westside knowledgeable answer the school specific questions, but the Choices brochure only allows ONE school choice for either magnet, PWT, or public school choice (PSC) for schools failing to meet their annual progress on mandated testing.

      You can apply to Community for kindergarten, but I’m not sure how many points you’ll get with Stoner being your home school. You can call Community to find out how many points it typically takes to get in, and that will give you a better idea on how many different programs you need to apply through to various schools.

      Check with the schools you listed about Open Enrollment or even SAS to get your child in if Community doesn’t pan out.

      I’ll ask the question, if you work in Burbank, have you looked at obtaining a child care permit and having her attend with you there? Some of the best conversations I had with my kids were while schlepping them all over for various schools.

  310. Hello,

    I am a little familiar with the woes of L.A. schools as we lived there before but my son was a toddler, so it didn’t matter! We live in Indiana where the schools are great, however, my husband’s work is in LA, and he is gone all the time and are considering a move to the Santa Clarita area.

    My son would be 8, and in 3rd grade next year. He is really smart and at the top of his class right now.

    1) Are schools in Santa Clarita crowded and do they involve the lottery that many other LAUSD schools do? What are the best public schools?
    2) Is art, music and physical education a part of the curriculum?
    3) When is enrollment
    4) Any other comments or advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Thanks, Magnetangel,

      I have been online for the last 24 hours with all of this, and I am feeling nauseous and crazy. I’ve been reading about budget cuts in California schools while I am breaking out in hives and splotches. Thanks for the link, I really appreciate it!

      • There are budget crunches, and the state has its own issues, but the reality is that in good public schools the PTO works together with the administration and comes together to meet the needs of the students. You might be volunteering and fundraising, but it’s still cheaper than a private school 🙂

  311. This year my son is enrolled in a district charter — Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts. So am I going to automatically receive a magnet application from the district? Or do they see us as “gone”?

  312. I would think it depends on whether its an independent or dependent charter, but don’t worry too much. I received mine tonight, sooo, if you don’t get it in the next day or two, call a local elementary and go pick one up.

  313. My son is in first grade at Dixie Canyon in Sherman Oaks and we’re happy with that, but already looking ahead to Middle School options.

    We have heard good things about SOCES, but since it starts at 4th grade, would we need to move him at 4th or could we potentially keep him at Dixie through 5th and then apply to SOCES for 6th grade?

    To help accrue magnet points, should we apply for something this year, just to get wait list points? Or since we’re looking to make a move in 2014 (when he would start 6th grade) should we not start applying for points until 2011?

    Also – what are the other options for middle school in the Sherman Oaks area? I believe my son would qualify for gifted programs, but we have not had him officially tested yet.

  314. Hi Joann,

    SOCES does admit additional students at middle school, but contact the school directly to know the odds. Honestly most people I know have applied and gotten in at fourth grade, because we’ve always believed that’s when the openings are. They do admit more in sixth grade, however.

    If you decide to wait til sixth grade, you wouldn’t need to apply this year. Millikan and Reed come up repeatedly in your neck of the Valley, as does the K-8 span Hesby Oaks. It’s early to think too much into it, as popular schools emerge all the time, but you can always keep your ear out for things you’ll hear from families in your area.

  315. First name and birthdate of your child
    Scarlet July 30th 2007
    2) What grade of school you’re seeking
    3) What part of Los Angeles you’re in
    Eagle Rock
    4) What your local public school is
    Eagle Rock Elementary
    5) extenuating circumstances white


    We live in Eagle Rock, and I am looking for a preschool for my 2 year old that has an academic program, and would suit a senstive child.

    Any recommendations please?

  316. First name and birthdate of your child – Jack 4/26/1996
    2) What grade of school you’re seeking – 9th
    3) What part of Los Angeles you’re in – Sylmar
    4) What your local public school is – Sylmar High
    5) Extenuating circumstances that may apply?

    My son has been at a fairly small (800 students grades k-12) private christian school since 1st grade. Since middle school his grades have gone down and he dislikes going to school. I feel like at this point he is just not thriving at this school. He wants to do film production and also enjoys sports. My fear is throwing him into a large public school after he has been at this small private school his whole school career. He is a smart kid but not necessarily a high achiever or very motivated. I am hoping to turn that around by putting him in a school he enjoys. The magnet schools I am looking at are Grant, Van Nuys, Pearl, and Verdugo Hills. I was also looking at Champs Charter (Van Nuys) but that one does not have any sports offered. Any help or insight anyone can offer would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!


    • Hi Kristina,

      You may or may not know I’m in San Fernando, so I know what your commute times would be like to a variety of schools. I’d be very careful about Pearl right now after the LA Times article where they’re being treated like the stepchild of the Birmingham Charter.

      My son attended Verdugo, and loved the early out schedule. Even playing a sport, he was home before dinner. And starting his sophomore year, he was able to take classes at the community college because he was out so early. It’s only 15 minutes away, and it’s not a very big campus–which was one of the reasons we chose it. Definitely take the tour, and see what you think. The magnet counselor and the magnet coordinator are AMAZING.

      Champs is an arts-specific school that requires a very long school day. They also require a specific number of volunteer hours and donations to keep it going. Make sure you’re familiar with their PowerPoint presentation before applying.

      Van Nuys has multiple programs and Grant is known for letting the kids walk across the street to Valley College for classes that aren’t available on campus.

      I’m not going to pretend I”m not biased when it comes to the schools you’ve suggested, but you know your son best. Contact the schools, arrange tours, and ask questions!

      Good luck!

  317. 8th grade martriculator-mom (sweet and single!) with Section 504 ADD plan sweetiepie daughter looking for BEST option to choose from for above sweetipie…

    A) In a Title 1/PI “distinguished” ms in Sherman Oaks (Millikan) for three years with sec 504 plan in place but not to said liking of martriculator-mom bc 1) school sec 504 personnel from the old skool days of anti-disability kids in Honors/SAS (God forbid!) and will leave current school NOW (December 2009) to find non-PI ms or span school with an opportunity transfer from the permit office to get said sweetie child OUT before making a choice on option B…

    B) E-Choices’ PSC program: Sweetiepie and marticulator-mom live in North Hollywood eastern zone—-yes, that means East Valley High as zoned hs/Lankershim ES zoned es/Walter Reed zoned ms—-District official offering two choices for leaving zone hs (which is also a title 1/PI school btw) but unable to give me the names for this year at this juncture (11.16.09) but alluded to last year’s zone alternatives: GRANADA HILL CHARTER and another hs that is now in danger of PI status. By choosing option B, I will not be able to choose options A or C…

    C) because on E-choices, you only have ONE CHOICE (WT?) and one choice to choose one MAGNET. I have whittled down to 7:

    1) Daniel Pearl
    2) North Hollywood Zoo
    3) DT Business
    4) Valley Alternative
    5) LACES
    6) Sherman CES
    7) Cleveland

    Sweetiepie has ADHD and no IEP any more (medical doctor/district approved) and loves animals (career as animal trainer), drama/vocal (career as actor/singer/perfomer), and literature/humanities (career as lawyer)….her stronger subject priority is english then science, then drama….you do the math lol or nix all those options and pick D…

    D) PrivvieSkools—-single, Amer Indian mixed heritage marticulator mom most likely will get financial aid but how much? I have a parttime job due to economy cutbacks at my old job and the ISEE is expensive but it costs less than going to administrators everyday and complaining about the shortcomngs of an inept district administration and Spec Ed dept ala Millikan ms. Making me think even more about option E…

    E) Opportunty Interdistrict transfer from LAUSD to Burbank or Beverly Hills or Malibu…a safety net.

    Marticulator-mom loves the BEST and sweetiepie is getting a raw deal but we keep our heads up and something will happen…but what?

    Uncertain and confused is I—-sweetiepie is no longer SAS eligible due to her low CST scores from being at MILLIKAN.

    Which door(s) do I choose before deadline Dec 1, 2009?


  318. Addendum to MARTICULATOR MOM entry —- sweetiepie has 8 waitlist magnet points combined with PHABO points for 2008-2009 and will receive another 4 PHABO points if she applies by 12.18.09 for a grand total of 12 points…is that enuf 2 get to those magnet schools (1-7) in option C—-see previous entry.


    • MM (and Sweetiepie):

      Not sure I’m a huge help but… of the magnets you mention, both Cleveland and SOCES deserve your research and attention (not that the others don’t, but I know of those two). Cleveland is highly regarded as a humanities magnet which sounds like your daughter’s cup of tea and SOCES is an excellent school by the stats. The question for both is: what is their attitude toward 504/IEP issues? That varies SO much school to school (as you’ve discovered) so I would recommend a long phone chat or visit with their special ed coordinators/Assistant Principals (whoever handles the 504/IEP plans).

      My overall thought is that you can probably find an LAUSD school to your and your daughter’s liking (and save the cost of private school) but you will need to do research and really dig to talk to parents to get to know before you choose. Show up at school when bell rings and ask parents their opinions. Show up at PTA/booster meetings. Talk to the administration. It is obvious the 504/IEP issue is a big one to you so that is a critical thing to discern for each school (and unfortunately I can’t help with that). Good luck!

  319. PSC vs. PWT?

    I’m looking into middle schools for my 5th grader. We moved into LAUSD this past summer, and therefore have no magnet waitlist points. We’d get 4 for our assigned MS (Webster) being PHBAO, but I think that’s it. So Magnet doesn’t seem likely to do much for us, except start building waitlist points for HS.

    I just realized today that we can apply for Magnet OR Permits of Transportation (PWT) OR Public School Choice (PSC), but not all three. I therefore seek your advice regarding PSC vs. PWT. I was told by district staff before the choices application came out and they stopped answering the phones that the PWT school for our address is Revere. Which is great.

    But my question is, given that my daughter is white, that PWT is an integration program, and that her assigned school is predominately minority, does that mean she’s unlikely to get assigned to Revere via PWT? If so, it would seem like we’d be best off applying for PSC. My concern there is that PSC gives highest priority to “lowest achieving students from low-income families,” and my daughter is GATE and now that I’ve finished grad school and got a job (hence the move to LA), we are no longer low-income.

    Anyone want to weigh in on the best option between PWT & PSC (or even Magnet)? Luckily, since she’s GATE we have the SAS option open in the spring, too.

    • I can’t speak to much to the PSC v. PWT question, but my bet is that you are going to want to go the SAS and open enrollment route anyway. While Webster is showing signs of life, most kids from that area try to go elsewhere. One common option is to go to Emerson or Palms. Both have SAS programs, although I personally think Emerson is the better route. Palms has a highly gifted magnet and therefore the SAS program is the poor step-child (even though some teachers overlap etc). It is often for the kid who did not have the qualifications for the gifted magnet, but has decent enough grades. By contrast, Emerson’s SAS program is where all the gifted kids end up and they also have one of only two middle school Individualized Honors Programs (IHP) in the city for Math and English classes that is quite good. Emerson also has a tie-in program with UCLA to give faculty and staff priority enrollment. Students get UCLA teacher’s aides from science grad students and take walking field trips to do lab work in the college labs. Both Emerson and Palms have space available, so you should have no problem enrolling your daughter.

      The other possibility, albeit not a sure thing, is to go the charter route. New West Charter is nearby (next door to a strip club and with virtually no playground, so not an ideal campus). It’s small and it doesn’t have a gifted program, but the average student’s scores exceed the average in bigger middle schools. The lack of a gifted program means your kid’s classes are not the same level as at Emerson or Palms, though. For instance, they don’t have enough students or teachers to offer the advanced math classes. Another possibility is Paul Revere’s charter. It’s a good school, but much larger than any of the others mentioned (twice as large as Emerson and probably 7 time larger than New West). They have an SAS which is similar to the offerings at Emerson and Palms, although they don’t have an IHP program. They also have a math/science magnet, but it’s probably weaker than the regular charter. The only advantage to that option is it comes with transportation (which is a big deal since Revere is the farthest away of the choices and in heavy traffic).

      • Thanks Anon, for the info…

        I was planning to visit Emerson, but your rap definitely moves it up the list of possibles. I was already thinking that Palms via SAS was a decent plan.

        I should mention that although our assigned (notice I do not use the word “neighborhood”) middle school is Webster and the PWT school would be Revere, my daughter attends Carthay Center EL. (We live in the part of the attendance zone that is nearest Crescent Heights Magnet EL and feeds to Webster rather than Emerson).

        So I’ve visited Burroughs and will apply to New L.A. Charter. Obviously, if I just want waitlist magnet points, I can apply to LACES.

        I’m definitely planning to look into Webster, too. I was impressed that it was mentioned in a NY Times article about schools that had dealt well with the issue of bullying gay/lesbian kids and bullying in general. (Which is 180 degrees from the CW (conventional wisdom) that I heard from the 6th grader of a friend in UCLA family housing that attends Palms instead). It seems possible that Webster is a small school on a upward trend, albeit from a relatively low starting point.

        However, if my daughter is going to attend a school that far from our house, I want to make sure it’s the best one for her (among the LAUSD options available to us).

        Still awaiting any pearls of wisdom regarding PWT vs. PSC (vs. building Magnet waitlist points). Anyone?

  320. I suggest that you come to Cochran Middle School tomorow, Sat. 11/21 from 9-12 and get your questions – including those about PWT- answered at the Local District 3 Magnet Fair. There will be application workshops for parents, an overview of “Choices” and many LD3 (and some other) elementary, middle and high school magnets will be displaying there.

    PSC isn’t really “public school choice”. The District provides parents with two options from which they must choose one. In my world, public school choice means I get to choose. Further, while there are clearly academic concerns at middle and high schools in LAUSD, many schools are labeled “Program Improvement” for reasons that would not motivate me to move my child.

    My children went to the gifted magnet at Palms before the SAS program was introduced. You should know that we and other Mar Vista Elementary parents made that choice after working diligently with the leadership at Webster then to create a relationship. Now, Webster is attracting an increasingly significant number of neighborhood students. I think you should take the time to visit it along with the other schools Anon mentions above.

    Lastly, I know a number of the key staff at these schools and sit on the School Site Council at Emerson. We ALL have a lot of work to do
    in building relationships, in understanding and USING data to improve instruction and in ensuring that we do what is best for children while being given fewer and fewer resources by a state that values prisons over public education.

  321. My family lives in Highland Park and we’re starting to look in to our public school options. We’re zoned for Buchanan Elementary. I have two daughters and a third child on the way. My oldest (Rosie) was born 7/20/06. I’m trying to figure out which Magnet school to apply to next year. So far, the only one that looks great to me is Community Magnet, but that would make for a really long commute. But worth it??

    Do you have any recommendations for closer magnets or charter schools? I work around Miracle Mile so that area would be convenient as well.

    Some things I’m looking for in a school are:
    -decent amount of green outdoor space.
    -a foreign language program, either part of the regular curriculum or offered as an after-school enrichment program.
    -academically challenging.

    Re. Community Magnet, does anyone know how many points are necessary for kindergarten admission, or how many applicants they get? I think we’ll have 4 points the first year we apply.


  322. My daughter Lola is 4 years old (DOB: 11.30.05). We live in Valley Village/North Hollywood (91607 area). Her home school is Burbank Boulevard Elementary and I believe she’s eligible to enter kindergarten fall 2010. We’d like to send her to Colfax, Carpenter or any good local magnet. She’s bright, very social and highly verbal.
    Still, everyone (teachers, pediatricians) advises that I start her in kindergarten in fall 2011. Should I apply for a magnet now if for no other reason than to accrue points?


    • Hi Gina, the magnet deadline for 2010-11 was December 18th. Whether you choose to send her to kinder at 5 or 6 is a choice you make, and all you have to do is Google “redshirt kindergarten” and you’ll find plenty of articles on pros and cons.

      More importantly in your case, even if you had applied, you couldn’t apply to kindergarten two times and kept your points. She would either apply and be accepted (and have to take or reject her spot this year), but next year, they’d consider her a first grader if she was denied and you wanted to keep the points. If you think she’s ready you might want to look for SAS or open enrollment.

      Before you do all that, make sure you take the kindergarten tour at Burbank (call when school goes back on the 11th), because you might actually *like* what you see.

  323. Dear MagnetYentas,

    Please help. We are considering paying the big bucks and moving out of the the South Pasadena School District for our son to go to (if he is fortunate enough to be accepted) the Mirman School. He is 5 (3/21/04) and tests into the 99.9% in IQ. We also have a 4 year old daughter who tested into the same range. If you can afford it (doable, but not easily), would you consider Mirman or would you choose the LA highly gifted magnets for its diversity? What would I be losing at Mirman? What would I be gaining at Eagle Rock or San Jose Elementary’s Highly Gifted Program? Which one do people like more? We are willing to move.

    • I would ask you why you feel your children need to be involved in a gifted program? Most of the research shows that of children who score as gifted before 3rd grade, less than 20% of them would requalify for the gifted program in 3rd grade. You are already in a great school district, check out your local schools and see how they are before making a big decision like selling your home just for a school. My daughter will start school in 2011 and I myself find it easy to keep getting swept up in the private school craze and I have to keep reminding myself that its not necessairly better, and it is much worse if it puts a financial strain on your family to make it happen. I was in the gifted program from 3rd grade on in my school and I really don’t see that it made any difference for me. My friends who were in the regular track are just as successful and well rounded as I am, its not all its being made out to be these days. I hope this helps you a bit.

    • Weiiwoman:

      We had similar issues with our DD (now 11). She is HG (99.9%) and has been in the LAUSD HG Magnet track (San Jose Elementary and now Portola Middle). There are pros and cons, definitely. Free is good, of course. It was great for our DD to be with kids similar to herself and to have some teachers who “get” these kids and their needs. Cons are LAUSD administration/bureaucrazy and lack of willingness to grade or subject skip/provide acceleration, etc. We go with the flow there (academics are definitely not up to DD’s abilities) and supplement at home with the money we save not paying private tuition.

      In the gifted forums I frequent, I have heard raves and pans about Mirman, a mixed bag. So much depends on the personality of your child. Some found it too rigid for their child. Others loved it. So it is hard without trying it. I say if you have the financial resources, try it for a year!

      What I’m finding is that some HG programs cater to very mature, studious kids who just “get down to it” pretty much on their own. Children like my DD — very energetic, creative and, well, spazzy! — don’t fit in as well in those reserved environments. She needs a more creative outlet that lets her be the kid she wants to be. We believe that she is 11 and should be 11 and not forced to be 25…

      Good luck! It is SOOOO hard finding the best fit for your child for these reasons… they are all unique!

  324. Thanks for the response! I can’t believe there are people like you who are so willing to help.

    Yes, I do feel that my son needs a special program because he does really thirst for knowledge. I know the research about IQ that you are quoting and I was quite comfortable with it. But, the same research also shows that if your kid blows the IQ test out of park, then your kid will pretty much stay smart. He already places into the middle of 4th grade on Stanford’s online math program and he is only in K. He reads so well that I forget that he doesn’t know all the words. So, I just wouldn’t feel that it would be right to put my “I need to be engaged or I’ll be super hyper” boy somewhere in 1st where he’ll be doing addition and subtraction.

    However, your statement that private and gifted programs aren’t necessarily better does really concern me. His current small private school tries to address his issues but he still expresses that he is bored and that he doesn’t try. But the school does try to work with him. I just don’t want him to get bored and end up with behavioral problems. You’re comment makes me feel like we should stay put. Or private or magnet? Hmmm.

    Thanks again for listening to my and everyone’s thoughts.

  325. My 2 cents…you are doing the right thing. Look into Mirman. I wouldn’t permanently move – in case it’s not the right place….

    I’ve heard good and bad about that school – it really depends on what works for YOUR kid.

    Private vs Public.

    What Mirman offers is that your kid can move up into other grades according to his ability – but he will still be in his peer/age homeroom class. Public school doesnt offer this.

    My one word of advice…make sure that he’s “well rounded”…You can be the smartest kid on the block…but if you can’t play well with kids/people or relate to them – no one will listen/play with you. This IS what public school does offer – you MUST roam with the masses. Social misfits stand out – (unfortunately, usually tortured) but in an environment of super smart kids, intelligence not socialization is judged vs public school where being “cool” is key.

    Encourage him use the other part of his brain too…

    And from experience – being bored in school is NO FUN…and will/does lead to problems – one way or another.

  326. We live in North Hollywood (Coldwater Canyon Elementary) and I want to make sure my son is in the best possible (free) school! At what age should I start to navigate the magnet/charter system? Are there free preschools in my area that would be good for him or is it recommended to pay for preschool? I don’t even know where to begin to start him off on the right foot!! Can you point me in the right direction, o magnet school goddess?

  327. Hi Kathleen. Hopefully someone from your area can comment. I didn’t do preschool with either child, so my experience is limited. You can always call and ask your local school if it has a pre-K onsite.

    On the trek to the perfect elementary school should be a visit to your neighborhood school. See what’s there and then start taking notes on whether it’s something that can be spruced up or if you need to look at magnets and open enrollment. You can apply to a magnet starting the December before your son starts kindergarten, and the only Valley magnet with a kindergarten program is Valley Alternative. They’ll have tours in December as well.

    There’s a start. Things are changing so dramatically within LAUSD right now you’ll need to stay active in your community to decide if it’s viable for you.

    Good luck!

  328. Logan 12/21/05
    Home school : 9th St Elementary
    Downtown Los Angeles

    Does anyone have any info on the Plasencia SRLDP pre-k program? And SRLDP programs in general? I called the school and was told that there were no tours for the SRLDP programs, and that I could not visit the school.

  329. Jay 8/27/01
    4th Grade
    Home School: Serrania
    Seeking: Welby Way Gifted

    My son has been test as Highly Gifted but for 3 yrs in a row, we have been unable to get into above school? We’re very frustrated and concerned that he is not being fully challenged in his current environment.

    Any advice on how to influence the process beyond accumulating rejection points?

    • Hi Dil,

      Sorry to hear you were rejected this year. Please keep in mind the Magnet program is a desegregation program, so aside from accumulating rejection points, there’s little you can do.

      You can call Welby, find out how low you are on the waiting list, and call back maybe once every week or two. As the summer wears on, and school resumes, schools have a little more leeway on how fast they go down the list. But if you’re in a grade with few openings, and you’re well down the list, you’re not going to have much luck.

      As a parent of two gifted/highly gifted kids, one who went the magnet route and the other who attended neighborhood schools, I encourage you to talk to the gifted coordinator and find out what your options are. In addition, talk to your child’s teacher. My kids have had plenty of accommodations from spending part of the day in a higher grade, to differentiating homework and other curriculum, to requesting specific teachers who “get” gifted kids.

      Your child could be as well served in your home school as in a magnet. If you truly believe that the school isn’t meeting your son’s needs, then you can look to the SAS enrollment period which should be coming soon.

      Good luck!

  330. Hello:
    We’re considering sending our daughter, Sachi, to pre-K at a public school. Where can I find a list of public schools that offer a pre-K? We live in the mid-Wilshire area. My local public school is Wilshire Crest. Thank you!

    • Hi Tara, I’m not aware of a specific list for the entire district–or even a local district. You might want to call and ask Wilshire Crest what they know–or call your local district office and see what they can tell you. Good luck!

  331. My daughter is an incoming 3rd grader, 7 y/o. We live in the Hollywood area. She is currently enrolled in Baldwin Hills Magnet (along La Brea & Rodeo). However, I wanted her to get into Wonderland Magnet bec of the good academic reputation of this school, besides, it is closer to home. I applied twice already but she’s always on the waiting list. And everytime, the points earned is just “4.” I am thinking of going to Wonderland school personally, say on their admissions day, and inquire if there is a spot that she can fill in and apply. Would that work? I tried to call once before but all they say is call the magnet center (no response).
    Btw, Baldwin and Wonderland schools are only thru 5th grade. Do you know of a great magnet for Middle school?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Chris,

      I wish I would have better news for you, but you won’t accrue magnet points while your daughter attends a magnet. Simply put, once your child has been accepted and starts attending a magnet, LAUSD considers the desegregation issue accomplished (keeping in mind that the magnet program is a giant desegregation program and has nothing to do with giftedness or a penchant for music/arts/math/science–or whatever the magnet emphasis is).

      You might want to call back and ask WHERE you are on the wait list. They will continue to go in order until Norm Day–sometime in October. So your showing up on the first day isn’t going to help. But calling to find out where you are and assuring them you are indeed interested–all the way up to Norm Day–you might just get that call, as they do tend to go through the list MUCH faster after school begins (as people don’t want to disrupt their kids). But with 4 points, you’re likely well down the list. However, stranger things have happened.

      As for middle schools, I’m going to have to let some of the other wonderful moms (and dads!) help you, as I’m in the NE San Fernando Valley and my experience is limited as I move out of the Valley. You might want to look at both Millikan in Sherman Oaks and Walter Reed in North Hollywood, but those might be too far, and you might be better off driving the other way.

      Good luck!

      • Thanks for the quick reply! Appreciate it!
        I have another question. I have another daughter who will enter pre-K 2 yrs from now. I want to make sure she gets into Wonderland magnet. If my 7 y/o is still in Baldwin, can I apply the other one in Wonderland? I presume that they won’t turn down the application just bec they are not in the same magnet. Also, when do i start applying? I was told that I need to apply in a school where i think there is a low chance of getting in just to earn points. My fear is if I do this and she gets accepted, then it would be difficult to transfer. This is exactly what happened when I applied my older daughter to Baldwin (which is PHBAO).
        Need your guidance. Thank you!

      • Chris,

        You can apply for your younger daughter to go to Wonderland when she’s in kindergarten for first grade. They won’t be concerned where the older sibling is attending.

        If you want to apply for kindergarten, hoping you won’t get in, there are only a couple of options–Valley Alternative and one near USC. Be warned though, it can backfire because someone does get in. My daughter has applied to Balboa and gotten in twice–once in first grade which we quickly turned down. Then she just got in from the wait list, going into fourth, and again we turned it down. Like everyone else, we needed points to assure her a magnet placement in middle school, and it backfired.

        The only school to worry about regarding PHBAO is your home school–the school you’re zoned for. Baldwin won’t be an issue.

  332. Thank you again!
    Another question… what about middle school for my older daughter (currently 7 y/o). Do I also need to earn points to get her into middle school? Is it easier to get into the first yr of middle school?

    • Chris, yes, it is normally easier to get in the first year since that is when the most spots are open… after the first year at any school, most spots remain occupied by the kids who are already going there. There is some turnover each year, of course, but not nearly the number of openings as in the first year.

      With that said — you can and should always apply in other years, too. As Angel said above, someone does get in! My son just got into a magnet for third grade… because few families want to move their children midway.

      • Just want to add that principals have considerable flexibility over their magnet schools and centers and students have been known to be accepted at magnets as “walk-ins” in the days before and just after the school year begins.

  333. We have been at our West LA elementray for the last 2 years…and now we have to move. Is it possible to stay at there , or do they make you move to the new school ?

  334. Hi nervous mom,

    Talk to your current school. Some schools have additional seats and can let you stay. Other schools will let you stay until the end of the year. It’s worth talking to them.

  335. We just found out that our daughter got excepted into the SAS program at Overland Elementary for First grade. She was at Kentwood Elementary in Westchester for Kinder. I think this is a great move, but I am a bit nervous about the school since I have only evaluated it by and a tour I don’t know any parents or inside information. Can you provide any insight into Overland and the benefit of the SAS program? Thank you!

    • Hi Taylor,

      The benefit of an SAS program is that all the children are at the gifted level or higher. While there are still gradations between the different abilities among the gifted kids, your daughter will be taught at a deeper or possibly even accelerated pace. Instead of having to deal with the kid who can’t handle simple sight words.

      As for GreatSchools and a tour, that’s how most parents learn about the schools to begin with. You can always talk to the school and ask to speak to a PTA parent and get some insight that way. There are also schools that will have a parent call you as a newbie and let you ask questions, so don’t be surprised if that happens.

      Good luck!

  336. Hi!
    Hope you guys could help me. I am new to this magnet thing. I have sheltered my son (8th gr now) in a private school since Kinder. Honestly, I am not satisfied with the school now. We have decided to send him to an LAUSD high school. I have 0 points but I want to send him to a magnet or SAS schools. His ITBS scores from 7th grade averaged to 92. Straight A student. I live in North Hills.
    I also have a daughter (1st grade now) whom I also want to take out of private school.
    I have been researching an in need of a good advice.

    • Michelle:

      Welcome! You’ve come to the right place. I am assuming your local high school doesn’t meet your needs? Have you checked it out?

      It will be tough to get into a magnet with few points if you haven’t applied before now. But please DO apply for points this year as even the three you get might help. It is free, some paperwork, and takes a few minutes — what’s to lose? I guess I’m just saying I’d try for magnet recognizing that SAS is probably your better bet at this point.

      Here are my suggestions:

      1) Check out this site. There is already lots of good info posted. Check out the menus on the homepage including high schools and your neighborhood.

      2) For magnets, go to and find out which high school magnets best meet your son’s needs. What are his interests? Math/science? Performing arts? Law enforcement? There are tons of choices.

      3) Check out SAS programs at high schools. Your local is District 1 so go here:
      But also check other districts if you are willing to commute/bus.

      4) If charter schools are a possibility, find them here:,205130&_dad=ptl&_schema=PTL_EP

      5) Once you have a list of “target” schools, check them out and explore their websites. Stop in at PTA meetings. Talk to parents. Read reviews on If you are looking at SAS, you need to call each school and ask about their process for applying. It will be in spring next year, usually May. Find out NOW what you need to do to qualify; make sure your son is considered “gifted” by LAUSD — his private school test scores may not work! (Read the Gifted section of this site.) Then apply… most schools do it by lottery and the good thing is that you can apply for as many SAS schools as you want (you can only apply for ONE magnet). So spread paper to various SAS schools next spring and cross your fingers!

      Finally, one last thought — to “game” the system — if you can get him into a Magnet program THIS year (yes, mid-year in 8th grade), you would automatically get 12 matriculation points to help him move to a magnet high school for next year… which would really help your chances, depending on the school. It will be hard to get into the popular programs but if you can find one that is less so and has space available… there you go.

      Finally — if you get waitlisted for a magnet, stay on it and do NOT give up hope. Many, MANY families get their kids in from the waitlist just weeks before school starts or over the summer. So plan for the worst, hope for the best…

      Good luck!

    • I just want to start by saying Rebekka is my HERO. 🙂 Thank you for responding so comprehensively when I’ve been busy.

      Secondly Michelle, there are some magnets that are pretty sure they get through their waitlist. One is Cleveland Humanities in Reseda. They’re a big magnet, but by the end of summer, they manage to get nearly everyone in. And from North Hills, there are a variety of SAS and charters in just a few minutes away in Northridge and Granada Hills. You’ll have a lot of work ahead of you, because only you will know what schools are acceptable to you, but you can do it. Good luck!

      • Thanks for all the infos. Indeed, I will be busy in the next few months. I am taking in all your advices and will start going to school open houses in my area. I’ll bring my kids along because I will take their input as well.
        Any recommended high schools and elementary schools in the North Valley?

        Thanks again!

  337. My son is 4 years old and is our district is Rio Vista Elementary, that is according to the LAUSD site since our zip code is 91602. But then I input some more info like street number etc. and came up with Toluca Lake Elementary on another school site! Thoroughly confused now. Anyway when do I get the Choices brochure? When and how do I start the charter, magnate process. Can you tell I am overwhelmed and underinformed? Thank you for your help.


    • Choices brochure will be available at any public school and online here:

      Last year the apps were due before the holiday break in December, but if you check the website by mid-October they should have it updated for this year. Remember, the Choices brochure only covers magnets. You’ll still have to look at individual charter schools for their applications and deadlines.

      As for which is your school, typically the LAUSD website is correct, but a quick call to either school will tell you which school is right. They do change boundaries from time to time and you might be lookingi at one updated site and one not so updated.

      Good luck!

  338. Thank you sooo much for replying on a weekend as I was stalking my in box from you. Question it seems you can’t start accruing magnate points till you are already in the LAUSD system. So I have to wait for him to get tested once he is in kindergarten right? Thus racking up points for 1st grade and on?

    • You can apply FOR the year he’s in kindergarten and essentially hope he doesn’t get in. Many people do it, and since so many do, very few get in. There are only a couple of magnets that do kindergarten, and you’ll be able to look at the Choices book and see which one gives you worse odds. The worst that will happen is you will apply and he will get in, and you turn it down. You’ll still have zero points, so it’s worth the gamble.

      When he’s in kindergarten, you’ll ask that the teacher identify him as high ability, and ask for testing, but it’s highly unlikely he will be tested until end of first grade or second grade. You’ll be able to get into the gifted magnets with the teacher recommendation, so it’s ok if he’s already IN the gifted magnet when he’s finally tested.

      As for weekends, I work from home, so it’s really not a big deal. It’s my busier season in my real job, so I check my mail fairly regularly, but I’m using the Yenta questions as a “break” believe it or not. 🙂

  339. ladies. so glad this exists. i’m a new mom. my son is 4 months old. (yes – i’m a planner.) our home school is carthay center. i see it doesn’t do very well on great schools. our neighbor’s child goes to larchmont charter. seems great, but my intution tells me i may have to give up my job to get my son admitted into a charter school. so magnets seems interesting. how to i find out how many points we’d receive when applying to magnets?

    • Hi Michele,

      I’m going to be direct with you. Enjoy your son for now, and don’t worry about schools. Things are changing so quickly in LAUSD with class size changes, and budget cuts, that to worry about what will or will not happen in 5 or 6 years, would be silly. Definitely talk to your neighbors about their Larchmont experience, and talk to parents who do send their kids to Carthay. The entire culture of a school can change in just 2-3 years with a different administrator, a few different teachers, and a change in the PTO guard. What’s great now may only be operating because of buzz in 5 years, and likewise, a school you deem as only so-so could be a blue ribbon school in that amount of time. Literally, every child in the school will have cycled through by the time you’re considering kindergarten for your son.

      If you want to increase the odds of the school being better by the time you are there, start volunteering there NOW and encourage your neighbors to do the same. It’ll help your property values as well. Good luck!

      • thx for the advice magnetangel. 2-3 is really fast and 5 years is a comparatively long time. for us, the question of schools always comes up when we consider buying vs renting, since 5 years is not a long time in real estate. i can’t help but think as i read thru posts on your blog that buying is the best idea only if you’re in a great district or can afford private school. if you don’t have the option of moving relatively quickly into a good district, how can you deal with the uncertainty of lausd?

    • Michele:

      We live in the Carthay Center district. Though my kids are too old for elementary school, I’ve heard that the school has greatly improved in the last few years, due largely to the efforts of some very dedicated local parents. I’d suggest checking it out when your son get’s a little closer to kindergarten age – you might like what you see!

  340. You need to decide where you’re going to live and have to be flexible with open enrollment, SAS, and other programs if you choose a neighborhood you like with a school that doesn’t exactly meet your needs. If you have the money to move into a great district, great, but you’re not going to be going out to dinner or having vacations for a LONG time. If you opt for a cheaper home, you’re going to have to be prepared to be creative.

    We’re in such uncharted territory for schools with the recent budget cuts, that you have kids from private schools coming back to public, and at the same time, some public school parents opting to homeschool or use virtual charters and keep their kids at home. i deal with the uncertainty right now, by supplementing at home and preparing myself for the day I have to homeschool. Right now class size is 24:1. If next year that goes up to 29:1 or worse, we all have to decide whether it’s palatable for each of us or not. In the upper grades, it’s even higher. That doesn’t include the issue where principals and teachers might retire.

    So I mean it, given the economy, and the low prices of houses–if you see something you want, buy it and then decide what you’re doing down the road. Even if you bought into a great elementary school, the middle school feeder might go down the tubes by the time you get there. There’s just no way to control that much 8-10 years out.

  341. thx. your website is great. what a resource for a ridiculously obtuse school system. i hope you’re still answering questions in five years.

  342. I checked the LAUSD choices site and it says preprinted forms are sent to those currently enrolled in K-11. Do I just pick up one and fill out for kinder 2011 when my son starts? And how many magnets are you allowed to apply for. I think 1 at a time is that right?

    • Hi MomofTwo,

      If your son will start kinder in 2011, you can pick one up in any LAUSD school. Once your son is in kinder, you’ll be applying for the next year (first grade), and they’ll be preprinted.

      There aren’t many kinder magnets to apply to, but many people start applying to accumulate points for down the road.

      And yes, one magnet. You can check off a box that will allow nearby magnets to contact you if they have room. You will NOT have to go and you will not lose points if you don’t go to these nearby magnets.

  343. Greeting!

    I have read many of the post and I am so greatful for all the great information and insight you are provinding…thank you!

    I have a child that will start kinder next school year. We moved to West Hills after we were sold on the great schools in the are (and most of the schools are!!). However, I just learned that our home school is Neveda Elementarty which ranks a 4 on greatschools and according to the neigbors is not a good school. I’m clear with the strategy to follow as far as magnet applications, charter and open enrollment options. Although hoping for the best, I’m trying to prepare for worst case scenario.

    If none of these options pan out should I consider private school for kinder until we can get in to a school we want? Does attending private school hurt our chances in the public system? My daughter already knows her sight words, reads short stories and is doing simple math and I would hate for her to set in a classroom that didn’t serve her needs.

    Can you please advise. Is there a school out in this area that I need to know about.

    Thanks a million!

    • Hi Lis,

      I can’t really encourage anyone to pay for private school tuition for kindergarten. All children are taught the same standards, and schools with lower test scores usually reflect students that are English Language Learners or higher special ed populations. Bright kids will remain bright. If by first or second grade you feel the school isn’t meeting her needs you could find a magnet that would.

      Please, visit Nevada during the kindergarten orientation time and see what it is like for yourself. There are also many elementaries nearby that should have room for open enrollment, as the Chatsworth schools aren’t typically full and I suspect the same for some of the nearby schools in West Hills.

      Good luck!

  344. I have a 2 year that is not speaking that much, reginal center provides a speech theraph teacher twice a week, when my daughter turns 3 she will moved on to LAUSD. I am worried, due to all the rep LAUSD has. Please guide me or if you can refere me. We live in El sereno area which is still Los angeles. Thank you!

  345. Please don’t freak out about all the negative stuff you have heard about LAUSD.
    Find out which schools in your community offer the services your daughter needs and then visit the schools. Go to the SSC and other school based meetings (like PTA or booster groups) ask to visit some of the classrooms.
    You might run into a brick wall with some of the schools. This is good, it lets you know that school is not for you.
    Can you take your daughter to a school outside your neighborhood- like near were you work? If yes, look into these schools as well.
    Good luck

  346. My son is in the 11 grade at Granada Charter High registered as a permit student. His younger brother is due to start High school next school year. Is anyone aware of a rule or law that allows me to just come in and register my younger son if his brother is already attending Granada? I’d appreciate your input. Thank you!

    • This is really a question better answered by Granada. They’re a charter, and they can handle their own rules, although typically schools do try to make room for siblings. Go ahead, pick up the phone, and ask, and then let us know what their policy is.

  347. Just opened my 2011-2012 Choices brochure, and am feeling very discouraged:

    1) First name and birthdate of your child
    Caitlin 12/28/01 & Sarah 12/24/03

    2) What grade of school you’re seeking
    4th and 2nd, with an eye leading into middle & high schools

    3) What part of Los Angeles you’re in
    Studio City, just outside of the Carpenter & Colfax boundaries…

    4) What your local public school is

    5) Extenuating circumstances that may apply?
    They just transferred to Riverside from private school for monetary reasons, and have adjusted nicely, making friends, so I’d hate to change them right away, but their teachers are just okay.
    Worried about middle school in particular, and high school. (And, of course, we’ve just missed “Magnet Night…”) Our nearest non-magnet schools, Millikan, Reed, Grant and North Hollywood are all rated Program Improvement Schools.
    Our eldest girl is likely gifted, don’t know about “highly gifted.” The other is dong very well, but may not be in the “gifted” range.
    The questions would be, are there any other choices for them both besides Sherman Oaks CES? Reseda is a heck of a hike from Studio City, and they’d have to take the bus at dawn I understand.
    Alternately, if the big girl can get into a “gifted” school, what happens to the little one?
    And, are there other tracks inside Millikan, in particular, besides “performing arts?” (I understand that requires an audition.) How about at Reed? Same questions for Grant and NHHS.
    Are there charter schools at the middle and high school levels in our East Valley area?
    Any ideas? I’m feeling very “stuck” for choices for our area.

    • Cathy, Let’s face it. Nearly EVERY school is PI–because of certain subgroups. Once a subgroup is identified as PI, the whole school is. So unless your child is an English Language Learner or is in Special Ed, don’t worry about that. The reality for those subgroups is definintely something to be concerned about, but if it doesn’t apply, you can relax on the PI front.

      And, you live in a PHENOMENAL area for great schools. Magnets aren’t the whole enchilada–not even just the appetizer. You have SAS to consider. SAS are Schools for Advanced Studies. They’re essentially the gifted magnet without the magnet. You apply to those in the spring. You can find SAS schools in your area by looking here:

      Since your daughter is likely gifted, you can start the process now, and ask she be tested. Your second grader will be automatically tested this year (this a new policy). But ask now that your older daughter is tested.

      As for specific schools, Reed has several small learning communities you can read about here:

      That’s enough reading for now. You’re hardly stuck. With any luck, my fourth grader will be in your neighborhood for middle school.