By: Arianna Prothero, Education Week, February 16, 2016
In districts with lots of school options, policymakers and researchers often point to common enrollment systems as a way to streamline and simplify the application process, but getting parents on board with a new process is a different issue. When Boston and Oakland proposed plans to create a unified school application for all district and charter schools, the proposals received pushback from parents in both cities.
In Boston, the proposal to create a single enrollment process received support from the mayor, district schools, and charter schools. However, the implementation was complicated by other legal battles concerning the education system such as raising the statewide cap on the number of charter schools and a large deficit in the education budget. Parents were concerned that focusing on a new enrollment process would distract from other important issues or restrict choice. In Oakland, a parent group was concerned that a common-enrollment system would spark an exodus from district-run schools to charters.
This type of system is designed to make enrollment easier and more transparent for parents, and it also makes it nearly impossible for charter schools to use discriminatory acceptance practices. For both those opposed to and in favor of the expansion of charter schools, a common-enrollment system signifies expanded access to the charter program.