Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Who's Benefiting from Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment should be scrutinized as a gift to the wealthy elite. I mean after all, who’s benefiting by open enrollment most, when you examine the cost of the program borne by the parents. I’m just curious, and I could be completely wrong, but something seems wrong about open enrollment.
Tell me that you don’t see the economic divide in the following story. Wausau Daily Harold:
Open enrollment is a process that allows families to send their children to a public school district outside of the one’s in which they live. The number of transfers, both new and continuing has been climbing steadily since 1998 when 2,464 students in Wisconsin schools changed districts … Five years ago, that number had climbed to 28,025. DPI estimates that 41,562 students used open enrollment this school year.
Think about the possibility of privilege being a factor:
Most transfers taking place … families have moved from one district to another, but who want to keep their children in their original schools. But as the number of new charter schools and specialty programs pop up, parents are increasingly using the program to find the right kind of education for their children. Peter and Sue of the town of Norrie have used the open enrollment process for their son, Scott, for both continuity and program reasons. The couple lived in the D.C. Everest Area School District for years, and then built a home in the Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District. They wanted to keep Scott in his original school, Riverside Elementary, and used the process to keep him there.
Oh but there’s more:
Later, the couple decided that Scott would be best served in the Everest district’s new charter school, the Idea Charter School. The open enrollment process spurs districts to innovate to remain competitive.  
Think the poor and middle class can do the following:
• Logistics. Parents need to provide transportation to school for students under the program

• Continuity. Most parents in north central Wisconsin use open enrollment to keep children in original schools after the family moves. In general, keeping kids in familiar schools helps keep them on track

• Programs. Most school districts offer special programs that can benefit specific kinds of learners.  
Anyone have enough money to move? How about the cost of transportation and the time to cart the kid around, just so they don’t have to meet a group of new classmates? And what about the likelihood of getting your kid into a charter school, in another district?

I’m just asking who’s taking advantage of the open enrollment program, since I haven’t seen a breakdown of participating family’s incomes. Anyone else curious? 

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