- Creating a single-system, or universal, enrollment process for district and charter schools together is a challenge that districts in Boston, MA, and Oakland, CA, are working to address.
- Both cities are facing pushback from parents, but four districts — in Newark, DC, New Orleans, and Denver — have already successfully executed universal enrollment.
- Statewide caps on charter enrollment and the possibility of one family "holding" seats in multiple schools for a single child currently complicate enrollment.
Districts like those in Boston and Oakland considering universal enrollment should certainly look to those that already have it in place for examples of how the process was marketed to parents and communities in order to make sure nothing is lost in misguided communication around the issue. By sharing and learning from experiences, more ground can be covered more quickly and mistakes can be avoided.
But it's also important to look to places where such systems haven't worked so well, like Philadelphia. There, the district has fumbled over timelines, a lack of transparency, and confusion over who was behind the initiative and why. For the district, the effort to combine all enrollment systems into one district-wide, streamlined process was reportedly underwritten by philanthropy.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has previously supported universal enrollment with millions of dollars in donations and grants.