March Madness is here! It’s called the School Lottery System

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By Reginald Barbour

For sports fans like myself, there is seemingly only one type of March Madness. It’s with NCAA basketball. It’s the time of year when you begin your research on college level basketball teams. If you haven’t been keeping up with which teams are performing better than the others, then you begin looking at stats online, maybe catch a game or two, look through articles on your favorite sports sites. You start asking around about how the team is doing, gathering info from your friends who are just as enthralled by March Madness as you are. You watch the qualifying matches and tournaments to see who will make it to the tournament bracket. You wonder who will the top 68 teams be this year.

One thing’s for sure, you can always count on the repeat top teams to make it to the bracket each year. They seem to have a winning formula that almost never fails them.

Here in Washington, D.C. we have our own March Madness. It’s called the annual school lottery application system for our traditional and charter public schools. It’s the system that allows parents to choose up to 12 schools for possible admittance for their child. If you haven’t done your homework on which schools to choose, now is the time when parents start searching websites, looking up test scores and other stats for schools, asking friends and family members for their advice, and trying to conclude which schools will make it into their application bracket.

You fill out your application with your fingers crossed (much like completing your NCAA bracket) in hopes that you will win a spot at your selected school. You compete for your spot. You watch. You wait. You hope. You sweat. And then you find out if you are indeed a winner when you get that long-awaited email that tells you the fate of your child’s future. Did you win? Did you come in second or third? Did your selections even make the final four?

For my family, we have been waitlisted more than admitted. We have been number 2 and number 152 on “the list.” It’s a letdown to not win your choice school. You feel defeated and deflated. March Madness is tiring even if you haven’t dribbled one basketball in the competition. Sometimes the emotional toil of competing for placement outweighs the physical exhaustion of an athlete. However, you press on. You go back to the drawing board. You perfect your plays. You do more research. You choose the right players, right moves, and you get your game plan together.

Perhaps you did win in this March Madness craziness and got into your choice school and that’s great! Count yourself as one of the lucky ones. For the rest of us, we’ll continue to wait and hope and come up with ways to “win” even if our bracket says otherwise.