Common Enrollment came up in a recent school board meeting in Oakland, the school district I work in. My job is Community Engagement and as such I work to listen to how the community is receiving information. Well, this conversation around Common Enrollment led to a conversation accusing the process of being a tool for charter schools. Once the work ‘charter’ is evoked, it becomes a new conversation. The term is so charged, so visceral.
To put it simply, common enrollment is an enrollment system that would make the process for finding and selecting schools easier by having parents fill out one ‘common’ form that includes both traditional public schools and charters.
Listen, I’m not pro or anti-charter, I’m pro-child. I don’t care what the delivery system is as long as poor Black kids are being educated. Period. So with that thought, I believe parents should have the access and ability to choose the school that they feel is best for their child. It’s that simple for me. I see common enrollment as a tool for equity. It allows poor parents to have the same footing as someone with means.
The conversation shouldn’t be a charter vs. traditional public schools thing, it should be about how to we ensure that all schools serving our kids are quality. If the school isn’t quality, what needs to happen to get it there? Those are the conversations we should be having. In the meantime, I trust parents to do what they feel is best for their child and their family. If we can make something that is difficult more accessible for poor children and their families, we should. From looking at my own childhood in this city, I know this would’ve helped my family and me.
I’m looking forward to the continuation of this conversation in Oakland. Not fear-mongering or scare tactics but real conversations where we inform families and community members so they can make the best decision for their children.