Desperate parents with kindergarteners ready to start in fall 2009 (CHOICES applications are due Jan. 9th, 2009), can contact Tanya Anton,, to attend her extremely helpful LAUSD primer Sunday, Jan. 4 @ 5 p.m. at a Westside location TBA.


An LA Weekly event pick and subject of an AP news story (google: “Martinis and Magnets, AP news”), “Martinis and Magnets” began as carefree soirees explaining the complicated LAUSD magnet system (to see how complicated, start at  to confused LA parents while proferring icy cocktails to dim the pain. The first “Martinis and Magnets” was hosted by LAUSD mothers (and authors) Christie Mellor (“Three Martini Playdate”– and Sandra Tsing Loh (“Mother on Fire”– at 24th St. Theatre (  in 2005. Other “Martinis and Magnets” have been held at Avenue 50 Studio (  in Highland Park and the Electric Lodge in Venice (“Martinis, Magnets and More” with Tanya Anton). The official vodka sponsor of “Martinis and Magnets” is Modern Spirits (

While the format (not to mention beverages and topics–we now cover charter and neighborhood schools, and don’t always ply alchohol) continues to vary, the festive, help-a-friend-in-need “Martinis and Magnets” spirit continues in Fall 2008 at:

Tuesday, September 16, 7 PM
Los Feliz MOMS Club “Mom’s Night Out” with Sandra Tsing Loh

Sunday, September 28, 5 PM
HERE (West Hollywood)
“Martinis and Magnets”
West Hollywood Book Fair After-Party hosted by The Burning Moms* (*some colorful links include: http://californiachildrensrally.com
(Cocktails by Modern Spirits Vodka–

Tuesday, October 21, 7 PM

Mount Washington PTA Magnet School Night*

* See Comment #4 below for more specific info

Or contact us directly if you have a group of Los Angeles area parents who need public school help. “Martinis and Magnets” is always free. (Although if an author/mother is hosting, it’s a nice gesture to buy some of her enjoyable books–typically funny ones on parenting!)

To contact us directly, write:


37 thoughts on “MARTINIS AND MAGNETS

  1. Pingback: KIDOINFO - parents and kids - providence and beyond » All fired up about schools and more!
  2. * Info for Mount Washington Elementary Magnet nite. . .

    Tues. Oct. 21
    7 p.m.
    Mount Washington Elementary
    Jack Smith Multipurpose Room
    3981 San Rafael Ave.
    LA CA 90065

    • Thank you for posting this. Everybody is welcome at Magnet Night!!

      Just to clarify the details, it’s actually Tuesday, October 20th at 6:30pm.

      Anybody who needs detailed directions to the school should feel free to email me:

      Kathryn McGuire
      Mt. Washington PTA

  3. Hi folks, I hope we get to meet many of you at the Martinis and Magnets event on December 14th. Since this is a school-related event, a little homework isn’t completely inappropriate. So for those who are coming for a little help, here’s your assignment:

    Find out your neighborhood school. This might entail talking to neighbors, or contacting schools directly. Another option is to use the LAUSD SchoolFinder (and I’d look up the URL for folks). Bonus points if you ask the school if they are considered overcrowded by magnet point standards and/or are PHBAO.

    Look up at least two magnets in which you’re interested in the Choices brochure, and go online. Find the school’s website, the PTA’s if they have a separate site, and hit GreatSchools and look at the parent reviews. Do NOT panic. Contact the schools and find out when they have tours. These may be over before M&M, so you may have to go on the tours before Martinis and Magnets.

    Bring all your reconnaissance to M&M. Bonus points if it fits in a manila envelope or a folder. If you need a U-Haul, you’ve probably over done it.

  4. Where is the M&M 12/14/08 and what time? Looking forward to gathering more info in hopes of successfully navigating the magnet system.

    • Martinis and Magnets, hosted by the Magnet Yentas
      6:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 14
      Largo at the Coronet Theatre
      366 N. La Cienega, West Hollywood
      See Post #1 BURNING MOMS GALA on home page of

  5. Our preschool would like to organize a Martini & Magnet event for families in our community. A few questions:

    1) How long is the presentation and is there time for questions at the end?
    2) Who will the speaker(s) be and what exactly will be covered?
    3) As co-hosts, what are we responsible for besides location and invites?
    4) How does it work with the vodka sponsor–is it donated, or is their a cost–and also do they handle misc martini supplies such as glasses, mixes, making them, etc.)
    5) Should families attending pay $10 in advance, or at the door–and what payment is preferred? cash/check?
    Thank you!

    • 1) Presentation can run 30-45 min., followed by as long as an hour for questions, then we cut it off!
      2) Our stable of volunteer Magnet Yenta folk rotate through as our schedule permits–it’s a primer on LAUSD magnets, charters, SAS programs and neighborhood schools. Sample magnet applications typically shown.
      3) You can thank your volunteer Magnet Yentas afterwards as well!
      4) If you request martinis, the vodka is typically donated by Modern Spirits and we’ll send a mixologist. We’ll give you a simple shopping list re: cups, ice, mixers, cut lemons.
      5) At the door is fine, either cash or a check made out to our non-profit fiscal receiver, whose info we’ll give you that day.

  6. Thanks Sandra! We’re excited about this event! Another question that came up… would it be possible for us to ask families to donate $15 or $20 instead, and have a split fundraiser? With $10 going towards the Burning Moms, and the remaining $5 or $10 towards our (non-profit) preschool? We’re hoping to draw in a large group since and also including the Culver City Moms club too. Thanks again!
    p.s. The possible dates look like: 2/28, 3/7, 3/21 or 3/28

  7. Sure–donation can be whatever you think will work. . . We just ask that you make the event available to the general public as well. . . Currently all those dates are fine by me personally except for 3/28.

  8. “Martinis & Magnets” with Sandra Tsing Loh, Christie Mellor & Tanya Anton. Hosted by the Magnet Yentas & Venice Parents Daycare & Preschool (
    WHEN: 3 – 5 pm on Saturday, March 7, 2009
    WHERE: 1222 Palms Blvd ~ between Walgrove & Penmar in Venice, CA 90291
    $20 donation requested per family to benefit the Burning Moms (parent
    supporters of LA public schools & VPDP (a parent-run co-op)
    RSVP: by March 1st. Please put “M&M” in subject line

    “Martinis and Magnets” began as carefree soirees explaining the complicated LAUSD magnet system to confused LA parents while proffering icy cocktails to dim the pain.

    The official vodka sponsor of “Martinis and Magnets” is Modern Spirits ( While the format (not to mention beverages and topics–we now cover charter and neighborhood schools, and don’t always ply alcohol) continues to vary, the festive, help-a-friend-in-need “Martinis and Magnets” spirit continues.

    Sandra Tsing Loh, “Mother on Fire”–
    Christie Mellor, ”Three Martini Playdate”–
    Tanya Anton, “Westside Guide to Public Elementary Schools” Navigating Magnets, Charters, Permits & More”

  9. We live in Mt. Washington and my daughter can start Mt. Washington El. in the fall. I know it is a good school, but should I be accruing points to get her in the good magnet for the second portion of elementary, middle school, and highschool? Are there any more Martinis and Magnets in the near future, looks like I just missed the last one.

    Also is there an area of your site that discusses the pros and cons of the school?
    Thank you.

    • Quick answer–you won’t be able to accrue USEFUL for middle school points until 3rd grade due to a maximum of 12 waiting list points (4 per year for a max of 3 years). Since Mt. Wash. El. is a school every LA parent would kill for, no, we do not discuss the pros and cons of the school, because that would be a higher-class problem than most of us face! Good luck!

  10. Hi!
    Do you plan on hosting M&M for the upcoming 2010 school year? I know the Choices brochure comes out in Dec. 2009.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Debbie,

      We’re always game to educate parents on the choices they have available. What area are you in, and are you interested in hosting (or helping us get a school to host)?

      • Hi magnetangel

        I live in downtown L.A. and would love to host a magnet education get-together. We have a community room and pool at my building that would be a great spot. Please let me know if the magnetyentas can come downtown!! I have a facebook group for parents downtown: “DowntownLAParents”, and I know a lot of parents would appreciate a tutorial.

        Susana Benavidez

  11. Hi Susana,

    I’m game. I’m from the SFV, so it’d be strictly logistical, so hopefully you can get some parents with more “area savvy.”

    I’ll make sure Sandra sees this and hopefully we can work something out.

    • Not sure where you’re located but it appears I will be speaking at the Mt. Washington PTA meeting on October 20th. I’ll post more details when I know them.

      • Thank you so much Angel! I am in the North Hollywood/Valley Village area, my home school is Burbank Boulevard Elementary. Please let me know, I will go wherever you guys speak.

    • Hi there

      Unfortunately we had to cancel the October 20th Magnet Night at Mt. Washington Elementary. If we reschedule in the future I will definitely post something about it!

      Kathryn McGuire
      Mt. Washington PTA

  12. I have an extremely precocious 4.5 yr old daughter and am trying to navigate the public school rapids in order to make sure she gets to go to a Kindergarten class that challenges her, rather than bores her. Since Harper Jo (that’s my girl’s name, FYI) can read fairly well, and with great inflection, I dread her getting to elementary school and finding out she has to trace letters all over again. If not challenged a bit, she tends to use all of her left over energy and abilities to wreak havoc (get noticed. provoke a change. etc.)
    These Martini Magnet Nights sound like an oasis to a New LAUSD Mama like me, and yet I can find nothing current. Not even from 2010/last year. Seems like all blogging re: M&M stops by the end of 2009.
    What gives?
    Are there other (better) options for me to engage with similarly frazzled/concerned parents? Any resources for the ridiculously remarkable 4-5 years olds who live in the thick of the city? (FYI – we’re at Normandie & Third – Koreatown.)
    I want my kids to learn English, with all its complexities and nuances. At their current preschool, both of my kids (also have a 2.5 yr old boy, Marley) have learned from teachers whose first language was NOT English. I can’t express how similar the sound of “Gimme that – it’s MINES!” is to nails screeching down a blackboard. I want my kids to be a part of a diverse, multi-racial, multi-ethnic crew, but I also want them to learn English without the errors. Is this just to much to ask for from LAUSD? Must we really move to Portland – in order for them to be safe, well taught, challenged and encouraged?!?!

    • Hi McCall,

      I’m hoping to call Sandra Tsing Loh out of semi-retirement to help answer you. She’s the one who ran Magnets and Martinis when she was a San Fernando Valley based mom…and an author in the middle of writing a book on the experience.

      As it stands right now, Ask a Magnet Yenta is a blog that responds to parents’ questions. We’re volunteers with years in the LAUSD school system, with some expertise in either certain programs (gifted), areas (the Valley or elsewhere), or even in researching or talking people down from the proverbial ledge. None of us, that I’m aware of, have connections to an alcohol provider or a fancy venue. When I do help a family, it tends to be over the phone, or through email, or over a cup of Starbucks with a friend. There are consultants that do charge, and they’re great, but again, they do this for pay.

      I can’t speak for Portland, but I can assure you that happy, healthy, highly gifted children do thrive in LAUSD, and that children do not spend much if any time tracing letters in any of the schools my children attended. All children are expected to be reading by mid-year in kindergarten. My first suggestion is to check out your neighborhood school during their kindergarten orientation, talk to your friends and see where their kids attend, visit those schools, and then if you are sure there’s nothing here, then start looking at Portland.

      Good luck!

  13. A friend of mine was able to have both her kids go to first grade at age 5 when they started LAUSD, based on the fact both kids could read and had been in Pre School for so many years before hand.
    My daughter was reading at 2nd grade and doing 3rd grade math when she started kindergarten. We were told she could skip to 1st grade but we decide not. Even though she could do the work, she was still a little kid emotionally (my husband and I were both social slow as kids and we see the same with her).
    Our daughter is now in 5th grade and is doing unbelievably well. We are very happy we kept her is age designated grade. My friend is also very happy she had her kids skip Kinder.
    The English issue: all LAUSD teachers are educated and will teach your children perfect America English. And if you are luckily, your children will benefit from being around a mini UN that most of our schools are and pick up a new language and an understanding of different cultures. Not all the other kids will speak the Queens English, but neither do most Americans.

    • I haven’t received an admissions/denial letter yet either. Someone mentioned that they heard magnets were notified, but letters weren’t going out until later this week, but I don’t know whether that is accurate.

      • I called the magnet and they told me (via voice mail tag) that they did not know yet. this was Monday the 4th. I will try once more Monday the 11th.
        Yea, pushy I know. But we need to make plans!

        • Perhaps they want to embargo the information until just before Spring Break so pushy parents won’t be able to call them right after they arrive to ask about the waiting list!

          • I do find it humorous that they moved the deadline up a month last year, but we’re still not likely to hear much sooner (it used to be near Cinco de Mayo for years). It also makes it difficult when the open enrollment/SAS spaces won’t be chosen until late May or early June.

          • Nail hit! Traditionally letters start arriving with the Friday mail, some Saturday. Gives parents a weekend to collect their thoughts. This year the schools lucked out and will have a weeks buffer. Good luck everyone.

            Also, remember, if you don’t get in right away, don’t panic. Many students will be called from waiting lists after accepted students get into SAS programs and then reject the magnet.

  14. Good Magnet News- All but one of my daughters friends & Classmates who were on the wait list’s (some very low on the list) for magnet schools have been accepted!! (The one young lady who is still on a list is very close to the top). All the parents (moms of course) called or visited the schools at least twice a week.

    I hope the rest of you in Ask A Magnet Yenta land are having/ will have the same luck getting your offspring into the schools of their choice.

    Good Luck fellow parents!!!!

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