Cincinnati parents camped out to enroll their children in a popular magnet school.
In Waiting For Kindergarten, a Cincinnati parent told the story of the 16 days he spent camping out in a tent to get his child into an elite magnet school. Eventually, tents in front of Fairview-Clifton German Language School “filled the entire hillside each night.”
There’s a better way to manage school choice, writes Alexander Russo in the Washington Monthly. Most magnets and charters hold lotteries to decide who gets in. Often parents have to attend meetings, fill out multiple applications on paper and meet “a dazzling array of deadlines.”
Savvy parents have an edge.
Unified Enrollment is making it easier for parents to apply. “All schools — district, magnet, and charter — operate under one timeline, one form (or website) and one lottery.”
A handful of cities already have it: Denver, DC, Newark, and New Orleans. NYC has it for high schools only. A handful more like Baltimore and LA have streamlined their process but stopped short of a fully unified system. I’m told it’s being contemplated in Cleveland, Indianapolis, Oakland, Camden, and Detroit.
The benefits of a streamlined system are obvious. Before it created the unified system in 2011, there were 62 different forms and application deadlines in Denver. Now there’s one form, one date, and parents rank their preferences so that schools don’t have to go through an extended waiting period while parents figure out what they’re going to do.
However, it’s hard to get everyone on board, writes Russo. “Chicago and Philly both tried and failed to get it done, blocked by a variety of factors including angry parents and reluctant charters.”