Range of emotions at Charter School Lottery

March 10, 2011 8:47:26 PM PST
There was a great deal of hope and the inevitable disappointment as parents gathered for a charter school lottery in Center City.

The tension in the room was impossible to ignore as the lottery rolled on.

Winning this lottery did not mean garnering a billion dollar check, but it might mean a fighting chance for the future, according to the parents who attended.

Well more than a hundred nervous guardians of largely unknowing students packed into Independence Charter School and all were hoping to hear their child's name called.

The parents believed if their children's name was pulled from the bin, it could alter the course of their kids' lives.

This was one of several lotteries taking place citywide; it is the only way public school students can get a seat in the classrooms of some highly coveted charter schools.

At Independence Charter School, there are more than 950 applicants for just 33 kindergarten spots.

"Parents want a quality education for their kids no matter their income, no matter their circumstance in life," Jurate Krokys, CEO of Independence Charter School, said.

The images at Thursday night's lottery were not unlike those portrayed in the documentary "Waiting for Superman," which derides the state of public education in America, celebrating charter schools as a successful alternative.

With deep budgets cuts coming at public schools statewide, though, charter schools are not immune.

But parents at the lottery believed the charter school may be a safer place to ride out the storm.

Those who didn't hear their child's name wore their disappointment.

For the few who beat the enormous odds, parent Eli Martinez summed up their feelings, "My wife and I are thrilled; we never thought it would actually happen."