Districts of Choice compete for students

California’s Districts of Choice are competing for students, writes June Kronholz in Education Next.  State law lets choice districts accept transfers without approval from students’ home districts.

The Riverside Unified School District east of Los Angeles was losing enrollment till it expanded choice options and opened the door to transfers.

. . . the district launched a science and technology middle school, a dual-language immersion elementary, an all-digital high school, an arts-centered grade school, a virtual school starting at grade 3, and more. Kids from other districts could enroll in the new programs, or, if the programs were oversubscribed, could enter admissions lotteries and, in some cases, stood the same chance of winning as Riverside youngsters.

Ninth-grade students at Riverside STEM Academy work together in a STEM Research Methodologies class

Ninth-grade students at Riverside STEM Academy work together in a STEM Research Methodologies class.
(Photo/Courtesy Riverside STEM Academy)


In 2013–14, the third choice year, 535 students transferred in to Riverside schools. Enrollment — and state funding — rose.

Thirty-one districts in the state have declared themselves “districts of choice.”

Districts can’t recruit star athletes or other outstanding students, writes Kronholz. ” Transfers can’t exacerbate racial segregation, and a district can’t take so many students that the transfers undermine another district’s financial stability.” They can’t reject special education students or  English Learners.

The law is controversial, writes Kronholz. Riverside parents aren’t always happy to see transfers compete for seats in popular programs.

Superintendents are wary of upsetting colleagues in neighboring districts, says Adonai Mack of the school administrators association. Many superintendents “aren’t entrepreneurial,” he adds.

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  1. What a great option for kids from the surrounding areas. I went to school in Corona. There were frequent fights, low academic expectations, etc., just in junior high school. When my oldest sister was in high school there, the guidance counselor told my parents that she couldn’t get anything more out of being there and should go on to college early without graduating from high school. While my sister is bright, I don’t believe she qualifies as a genius. Then when my parents divorced, my father agreed without a fight (a rare occurrence in their relationship) that my mother could move us children all out of state so that we could go to better schools.
    My mother would have been among the very first to sign us up for these schools and been on the road to Riverside every day.

  2. Miller Smith says:

    Safety goggles not being worn. One student holding the sample tube and the other micro pipetting from it is not good procedure. No splash aprons being worn.