NOTE: The Thomas B. Fordham Institute occasionally publishes guest commentaries on its blogs. The views expressed by guest authors do not necessarily reflect those of Fordham.
Lowellville Local Schools in Mahoning County, Ohio, where I am superintendent, has participated in Ohio’s open enrollment program for almost 20 years. Our district enrolls about 600 students annually, about 54 percent of whom attend from outside Lowellville’s district borders through Ohio’s open enrollment option. The program’s impact on our schools and students has been overwhelmingly positive, yet there has been some skepticism about open enrollment across the state. Most of these criticisms seem territorial at heart or seem to stem from a philosophical opposition to choice. Folks might ask, “Why should taxpayers have to pay for students who live outside their district?” or they may wonder about capacity issues, overcrowding, or transportation issues when serving kids outside of their bounds.
But there are other aspects of the program worth knowing about—real benefits for students, families, educators, and communities when districts opt to allow students via open enrollment.
1) Greater course offerings. In Lowellville, given the manner in which...