Selected readings on US charter schools
Public charter schools provide the unique opportunity for parents to select their child’s school, a welcome choice for millions of families across the country. However, the ability to have a marketplace of schooling options necessitates that parents be able to navigate the plethora of schools. With the number of students on waitlists for charter schools continuing to increase, getting into a charter can be difficult enough; applying to a school shouldn’t be.
Charter schools are taking steps to make the application process less confusing by launching universal enrollment systems. These systems provide one common application, one timeline, and one lottery for all charter schools. Parents rank schools in order of preference and an algorithm generates a single option for students. Under this emerging system, the confusion and difficulty of applying and choosing a school is potentially alleviated for parents.
Thus far, Louisiana, New York City, Denver, Newark, and the District of Columbia have launched these open enrollment systems. While many charter schools were wary of the new system, fearing they would lose autonomy and independence, the new system’s ability to give families a better offer, and to make it easier and more appealing for parents to apply, makes it a valid option for many schools.
“There’s a sense among charter that they’re trying to brand who they are and there’s some unease that in a common application you lose that sense of parents really understanding what the school experience is like,” said James Merriman, the chief executive officer of the New York City Charter School Center.
Yet, Armen Hratchian, the vice president for K12 schools at Excellent School Detroit, said, “Right now, there’s no single place, time, or process for parents and kids to select and enroll in schools, so we’re not really maximizing choice.”
While the current system is only available in certain areas, systems that streamline the process are promising for families unfamiliar with the process of selecting a school.
Source: AAE Charter Schools Blog – by Ruthie Borelli