Newark Charters: Common App

Newark, like DC, moving to a single enrollment process for parents -- one app, choose district or charter schools. 

Under the plan, there would be one application, one timeline and one central clearing space for information about all city schools. Essentially, it would eliminate the need for parents to go from school to school filling out applications and participating in separate lotteries in the hopes of getting a spot in a particular school.

The collaborative effort is messy — and even risky — proponents say. Ultimately, they say, it’s the right thing to do to ensure all 44,000 Newark school children have an equal opportunity to attend a good school.

Our friend Misha:

...Some charter school officials are concerned about the details of implementation and giving control to the district that hasn’t always been efficient, she said.

“We are very much committed to the values and principles that the system is trying to achieve,” University Heights Charter School executive director Misha Simmonds said. “But the challenges are around the implementation.”

Our friend Ryan:

Ryan Hill, the executive director of six TEAM schools, said his organization is behind the plan and he, like Ashton, believe it will move forward.

“The parents and kids are the real winners, and that’s what matters,” Hill said. “It’s complicated, getting from a system from 20 different enrollment processes to one, and there’s anxiety around what the logistics are. But we’ll hammer those out. There’s been a lot of meetings, a lot of good collaboration. I’m very confident it will happen.”

I was a little hazy at Alia's wedding last weekend, but I think Jared of Great Oaks Charter told me there that his school is in, too.  I only had one gin and tonic and a little champagne, but I'm a lightweight.  Jared may have mentioned some issues where the new system may make it hard on kids who transfer, and some other technical stuff that hadn't been worked out precisely. 

North Star?

I wrote about this recently, when DC proposed something similar. 

If it works well in DC, I'm hopeful it could happen here (Boston).  If it's a disaster, then I hope it doesn't.

The fear is that if an anti-charter leader/group controls the "centralized process" -- even at some future date -- then havoc could ensue.  The upside beyond "simplicity for parents" is transparency of data -- who wants what?  Moreover, scholars can use this database to study all kinds of things.

Our friend Shelley Parker wrote in:

Denver Public Schools have a similar process for school placement. All families fill out a school choice form yearly that includes both district and charter schools. Part of what makes this work is that many charters are also considered boundary schools, so students could be placed there without choice if enrollment is low.

Overall, the system works. The biggest drawback is an incredibly complicated form that is sometimes inaccessible to families. After being at both MATCH and STRIVE Prep in Denver, i definitely think the full choice system works better.