Students at 1,000 of California’s “lowest performing” schools have until Dec. 31 to request a transfer to another school, even in another school district.
The Open Enrollment Act, authored by former State Senator Gloria Romero and which became law in 2010, requires the California Department of Education to each year release a list of the state’s lowest performing schools — designated as such according to a specific set of criteria included in the legislation — to the public. It also gives parents of students at schools on the list the right to take their child out of the school and to enroll the student in a better performing school, provided space is available.
Romero, who is now the director of Education Reform Now, recently announced the start of the “Have Choice –Unleashing Parental Voices” campaign focused on informing parents about their rights under the Open Enrollment Act of 2010.
“We must take every step to let California parents know they have a short window to use their rights and take action,” Romero said in a news release.
According to Education Reform Now, the 2010 Act “enhances parental choice in education” by giving parents more options in their child’s education. No longer does a child have to remain at a low-performing school, nor is private school tuition the only alternative, according to backers of the campaign.
It should be noted, however, that often many of the best performing schools do not have openings available, so parents should do their research carefully when submitting applications for transfer.
The list is not a straight roster of schools that had the lowest API test scores in the state, however, and can be confusing since it contains the names of schools with APIs higher than many poorer performing schools not on the list.
The Act requires that no local educational agency (LEA) – such as a school district — “shall have more than ten percent of its schools on the list,” and the list must contain a mix of 687 elementary schools, 165 middle schools and 148 high schools. For that reason, there are a number of schools with APIs over 800 on the list, even though generally schools considered to be failing or poor performing have APIs between 500 and 799.
The deadline for parents to submit paperwork to request a transfer to another school is Dec. 31. For more information go to: www.1000schools.org or call (323) 379-3450, or visit the California Department of Education’s website at http://www.cde.ca.gov and click on the “Specialized Programs” link, then on “Open Enrollment.” The state’s website includes a more comprehensive explanation of the Act, and the application and selection process.