Some States Will Let Students Transfer to a Better Public School, For a Price
Pandemic school closures have more and more parents interested in opting out of traditional public schools. However, too many states make it hard even to transfer school districts, leaving many families—particularly low-income ones—left behind.
Forty-three states have open enrollment policies, which allow K-12 students to attend public schools for which they are not geographically zoned, provided the schools have open seats. While the policy is often intended to reduce inequality of opportunity and increase competition for students, a new report from the Reason Foundation (the nonprofit that publishes this website) argues that many states are failing to implement these programs.
According to the report, authored by policy analyst Jude Schwalbach, the most successful open enrollment programs should enact five “best practices.” These practices include mandating tuition-free transfer to both in and out-of-district schools, transparent communication from the State Educational Agency, transparent capacity reporting, and a ban on schools charging tuition to out-of-district students. Most states fall far short of these goals. The Reason Foundation’s report found that no state met all five “best practices” for open enrollment, and 40 states met only one or zero of the categories.
For example, many states make participation in transfer programs optional for school districts. In Ohio, this led many of the state’s high-ranked suburban schools to opt out of the pr
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