by Andrew Plemmons Pratt

OurSchoolDC was a paper-and-spreadsheet simulation I designed in 2017 to explain some of the complexities of the citywide lottery enrollment process for public schools. The first audience was my team of CityBridge colleagues. I also ran the simulation for participants in the Education Innovation Fellowship. The simulation focused only on a subset of schools in Ward 6, and centered reflective questions on what the lottery experience felt like when centering the needs of a young person. 

This is the page used to organize the prompts for simulation participants; it provides a window into the simulation rather than a full catalogue and set of instructions. Note that all information on schools was from 2017.


  • Map
  • School info cards
  • Home draw deck
  • Preference markers
  • Lottery deck
  • Post-Its & note paper


4 min

Work in pairs or groups of no more than 4. Be ready to share your thinking with someone else as you go. (Also helps with school research.)

If you are a parent in real life, consider working across difference, with someone who does not have kids.

Imagine that you the parent or guardian of a toddler and that you live in the Capitol Hill, Navy Yard, or Waterfront neighborhoods of DC. Write down a little bit about this kid you love and care about. (1 min)

  • Who is this child?
  • What does s/he look like? (Draw a pic!)
  • What kind of challenges do you expect him/her to have in school?
  • Get emotionally invested & trust the process.


This game is informed and structured around my own experience:
  • white cis-gender man
  • married
  • two working parents
  • professional class
  • homeowners

Limited schools selection simplifies game mechanics; also reflects many personal choices, perspective, and observations of the schools.

Phase 1: Where Do You Live?

8 min

  1. Assign player numbers for house markers. Record these here (http://bit.ly/ourschooldc).
  1. Draw for homes.
  1. Place homes within boundaries.
  1. Assign preference cards: In-boundary (everyone gets one) and Early Action Pre-K (Amidon-Bowen, Miner, Payne).