I didn’t see common enrollment systems coming.
When I started writing The Urban School System of the Future in 2009, I didn’t foresee the extent of the complications associated with parental choice in cities with expansive networks of accessible schools. At that point, the vast majority of city kids were still assigned to schools, and the conventional wisdom was that this would be the case for years to come.
My, how things have changed.
New Orleans is now a virtually all-charter system. Detroit and D.C. have about half of their kids in charters; in Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Cleveland it’s more than 30 percent.
This growth is great. Kids in urban charters learn more in math and reading, and the benefits are being realized most by disadvantaged students. It’s forcing city leaders to rethink the operations, oversight, and governance of public schools (see Camden, Memphis, and Detroit).
But—as explained in a primer by CRPE—if cities simply add more choice schools in the absence of changes to the enrollment process, parents can struggle to find information on schools, be forced to fill out widely varying school applications, and then receive a staggered barrage of acceptance and rejection notices.
Common enrollment systems can help solve this.
They use a single application that allows families to rank their preferences, then match students with schools using an algorithm that takes into account student priorities and school characteristics.
A number of cities are headed...