If you apply to Independence Charter School you will get a spot on the waitlist. They pick every last name out of the box. This year the waitlist was somewhere around 380 spots long. Getting off the waitlist is another issue: 1-10 will likely get a spot, 10-20 still very promising, 20-30 is possible, after 30 is very unlikely. I’m sure this varies from year to year. I was told it’s largely dependent on how many people choose private school over ICS.
The funny thing about the ICS waitlist is that the school that got you on, may not be the school that gets you off. What do I mean by that? ICS has two tracts with regards to Spanish language instruction: immersion and enhanced. Both have a 90/10 split in Kindergarten. Immersion is 90% Spanish and 10% English, while enhanced is 90% English and 10% Spanish. As the grades in both tracts progress, the language split becomes more equal until both tracts are Spanish/English 50/50 by the 8th grade. When you apply to ICS you must choose one program and one program only to apply to.
We choose immersion. It was an easy decision for us. I went to a German Bilingual elementary school and I put a very high value on language instruction. The teachers believed in my elementary school and many were German. It was a source of pride even though most students weren’t German (75% of the school was African-American). I remember the day the Berlin wall fell. I learned maypole dancing and the only sport offered was football (or soccer). I am of the mind that during elementary school the most important things you learn are social – the one exception being language education, which I think is best done at a young age. My husband and I had already decided that our children would speak another language. Given that I’ve used German only while living in Germany and as a secret language between my sister and I, we decided Spanish would be more useful.
So we applied to the immersion tract. However, when a spot becomes available in either tract that spot is offered to the next student on the waitlist, which means that if you applied to the immersion tract you could get offered a spot in the enhanced tract and vice versa. What’s really the difference if they both end up 50/50? Some people say the schools are night and day. Others say they are blending; the idea that one is amazing and the other a failure is outdated. One difficulty in getting information about the school from neighbors is that ICS is ever-changing and most folks I know have their children in the junior high. What is really the difference and where do you turn for honest answers? (More to come…)