There are more than 80 schools in Oakland schools that parents must navigate as they make decisions about where they want their child to be educated.
The status quo is an analog system in a digital world.
The current system was built before the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) became a district of school choice with a tiered selection process. Now if you are well versed in how to navigate the system and happen to be pretty well organized then there’s a good chance that you got your child into your first or second-choice school. If not, then you may have had a panic attack in the summer leading up to the current school year.
In a district administration that focuses on equity there has been talk about a common enrollment system that would in spirit allow more families to better understand the enrollment process. Though all of the details have not been released yet it was made clear that the new system will be a one stop shop that allows families to enroll in all public Oakland schools meaning both district-run traditional schools and charters.
The new system should support multiple modalities to allow access for all families within the system. At the time of this writing, there was a steering committee formed with input from parents, staff, community organizations and other stakeholders.
The new Common Enrollment system plans to roll out in December of 2015 for the 2016-17 school year. Oakland still has a lot of work to do to get to the equitable school district they want to be and even this action takes place in OUSD’s canon of other strategies indicated in it’s Pathways to Excellence playbook that was introduced in 2014.
I’m looking forward to the new system. I remember watching my parents struggle to figure out what schools I’d go to when I was a young student in Oakland. I remember being told what school I was supposed to go to and my parents not really on board with that decision but not knowing how to navigate the system. My parents were not big fans of the West Oakland feeder pattern I was part of in 1994 – OUSD has prioritized the revitalization of the West Oakland feeder pattern in it’s strategic plan.
My parents weren’t school advocates or college grads, they were just poor parents struggling to make ends meet and wanted the education part of my life to be a tad easier. As a believer in school choice, I want parents to be able to make good decisions about their children regardless of their income level, color, or access to nepotism. In this extremely long road to get to a truly equitable school district, it’s a step in the right direction. A parent’s job is to do what they feel is best for their child, our job as a district is to make people want to be at our schools.