Step 5 - TAKE ACTION: Page 5


Unlucky Results?

This page covers:

  • Tips on getting you and your child into a healthy frame of mind
  • Some practical “Plan B” tips

If you struck out in the lottery and/or got turned down by the privates you applied to, we feel your pain.  Short of hoping for a miracle (that last minute phone call has been known to happen!) there are things you can do, and things you should think about:

  • First of all, if you haven’t already, go register at your neighborhood school.  That might be the place your child will attend and if you are one of the late registers you will be relegated to the class with the most openings, which quite often can be the least favorite teacher.  And note that if you did accept a spot at a Focus Option school or Charter, but decide that you want to go to your neighborhood school instead, you’ll need to file a petition with the district to register.
  • Be mindful of your attitude.  You and/or your partner might be extremely disappointed, frustrated with the system, or even mad about being rejected.  But if you need to vent (and you will), do it when your kid isn’t around. This is a golden learning opportunity for your child as they are going to learn first hand how to deal with disappointment.  What will your message be?  Is it “Try and try again"? “Make lemons out of lemonade"? Or the less desirable, "kick the door in and become bitter about it"?  And practically speaking, try not to say negative things about either the school they didn’t get into (they might end up there in a year or two) – or the one you think they will be attending in the fall.  That’s only setting them up for a less than healthy relationship with the place where they may spend years learning.
  • Explain to your kid that the rejection is not about them.  Depending on how much your kid is aware, you may need to do some damage control.  If your child got rejected from a school they were hoping to attend (and some of the private schools have pretty involved application processes where your child might have spent a fair amount of time on campus) they need to understand it’s not about them.  There were limited spots - they really wanted to accept him/her, but there just wasn’t room. It’s not because your child wasn’t good enough (after all, how much could the school possibly know based on such a limited application process?) If your child didn’t get in due to a lottery draw, it’s easy to explain that “luck of the draw” is totally random, and never personal.

More: When You Don't Win the Lottery

Make a Plan B

Set emotions aside and consider what options might remain:

  • Resolve to try again next year, and supplement this year. Hopefully you can get into an okay place about your option, and give it your best shot, knowing you may be doing this whole school searching process again next year. If your one option is less than ideal, figure you’ll be supplementing where it’s lacking, and that you may be getting involved more than you had intended (for which the school community will be extremely grateful).
  • Claim Hardship & Petition - See story in the comments below.  You could try and petition for a school change within PPS, even after the lottery is closed.  This link to a Petition Q & A will offer insight, and this link delves deeper into how preferences are ranked and where guarantees are possible.
  • You can keep looking.  There are some Focus Option schools that may not have made their quota, that are still accepting enrollments (which will ultimately involve you petitioning to get a spot).  Perhaps there’s a school out there you hadn’t considered that will look pretty good right now.  And if it’s feasible to consider private school, you can continue to pound the pavement for schools with open enrollment.
  • You could move to another part of town.  Maybe a different neighborhood school would be a better fit for your kid. Don't forget, your neighborhood school has to enroll you no matter when you register.  Would this Herculean effort be worth the stress on your family?  Only you can answer that question.
  • Consider homeschooling. You’ll be able to find plenty of support in Portland.  Is this something you could be happy doing? It might be worth exploring. Note: There's also the virtual school charter option, or even "unschooling."

With all these options you’ll have to figure out what you’re willing and able to do.  If you mentally try on any of these scenarios, one will resonate with you more than the others. And if you decide to attend the school that you think is so wrong, really try and stay open to the possibility that you’ll actually like it.  You might be pleasantly surprised, as has happened with folks on plenty of occasions.  And no matter what you end up doing, put your kid in a positive frame of mind.  Be sure to convey, "There will be lots of things we will like..."  Even if you don’t believe it, sometimes verbalizing it helps you to see the gems in the uncut stones.

Take a deep breath and do an attitude check.  Be mindful of what you express in front of, and to your child.  Then, it’s a matter of getting real about where you’ll go from here.  Put aside some time soon to look over your best options with your partner or trusted friend and start moving down another path…
Assuming the principal is on the tour, take note if s/he has clear and ambitious plans for the school while demonstrating a depth of knowledge about what’s going on in the classrooms. S/he may defer to teachers to fill in details, but you should get a sense there’s a firm understanding of what is happening academically and socially the school.

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