Monday, October 31, 2016

'Common Enrollment' - The Newest Page in School Privatizers' Playbook

'Common Enrollment' - The Newest Page in School Privatizers' Playbook:
‘Common Enrollment’ – The Newest Page in School Privatizers’ Playbook

In October 2015, Kim Davis, a parent of public school students in Oakland, attended a community meeting about improving the large district’s student assignment system, a process that many parents agreed was in need of some sort of repair.
But Davis, co-founder of Parents United for Public Schools (OUSD Parents), immediately suspected that something about this particular meeting wasn’t quite right. First of all, it wasn’t led by district officials, educators or parents, but by representatives from Educate 78 and Great Oakland Public Schools (or GO Public Schools), two groups with deep ties to the corporate education privatization agenda.
Also, the presentation was infused with hyperbolic rhetoric about the “crisis” engulfing the enrollment process. There was no time to waste because the current system was profoundly unfair to Oakland parents and in need of an urgent overhaul – or so attendees were told.
But revamping the system was easily attainable, they promised, because the estimated $1.4 million tab would be picked up by various “philanthropic” organizations. That is, on one condition –  the new system must combine public schools and charter schools in one enrollment process.
“It was all very manipulative,” recalls Davis. “The way they framed the issue as this big emergency and then they kind of slid charters in under the door near the end of the meeting. That’s what this proposal was all about – opening up even more doors to charters in Oakland.”
But that’s a familiar tack of charter supporters in their push to expand the sector, including in this fledgling movement to overhaul enrollment systems.  Advocating for a more streamlined process is far more digestible, after all, than asking a community for greater access to its students and public money – particularly at a time when the luster of the charter industry, amid mounting financial and accountability scandals,has worn off.
[Common enrollment] presents all schools in its system as public schools, even though charter schools are privately-managed and not publicly accountable” – Trish Gorham, president, Oakland Education Association
But that’s exactly what groups like Educate 78 and GO Public Schools and their financial backers have their sights on for Oakland: an even greater market share for charter schools, which already comprise almost half of the city’s K-12 institutions.
Many of the existing charters have waiting lists, but a cluster of new schools is in the offing that will benefit from easier access to more Oakland students.
To charter supporters, common enrollment punches that ticket.
Advocates say the system provides a convenient “one-stop shop” for parents who 
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