Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,


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Should schools become competitive by removing residence boundaries in American schools?

Education needs more diversity. The government isn't doing much about K-12 education, so we hope the schools are. In some countries, the teaching profession is highly respectable. In America, schools have been compared by some with baby-sitting and teachers are the "baby-sitters".

Where your area code resides in America is very important for parents because that determines what types of public schools your children will attend. If you are able to live in an area with a higher cost of living, then most likely the public school system in your area is well funded. If you live in an area with high poverty, then pray the teachers in your public school system are great teachers.

By removing these residence boundaries for the public school systems in America, then education would become more competitive. Competition seems effective for bringing about new ideas, where there lacks self-motivation.

Update 10/17/2013: This video, ABC 20/20 Special: Stupid Americans 2003, makes me worried about education and made me consider open enrollment, though it is dated I still think American education could improve.


  • Oct 20 2013: Open enrollment sounds really good. And many districts all ready do some version of "open enrollment". Call it choice, call it whatever you like, but it exists. But, it only exists for those who are willing to put the time in and get their kids to the good schools.

    This system benefits those with money, time, and transportation, not those who are limited by finances or life circumstances. Magnet schools, choice schools, STEM schools, and open enrollment models only work so far as the parents care about their childs education and those that can get their kids to the better school. Free transportation, or hour plus long bus rides for kids are not a legitimate option for most students.
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      Oct 20 2013: The idea behind "open enrollment" is to encourage schools to be competitive at retaining and attracting more parents by offering much more creative ways to teach.

      Initially, the parents with the "money, time, and transportation" will have better options, than parents without those means. Parents without those means will demand more of their local public schools/districts, assuming they care about their child's future. Schools that have been getting lower sign up rates will be forced to improve their curricula, have more programs, etc.

      The schools that are considered "the best schools" will have waiting lists, and those parents with the means to get their child to better schools will choose the second best choices or third, fourth, etc. The standards and expectations of schools will be competitively forced to match or exceed each other, and that is a win for America in my book! We need more educated and passionate people in America because without it America will be run by puppet masters in the government of puppets.
      • Oct 20 2013: The open enrollment idea is great. And yes, the schools are initially going to attract those parents with money or ability to travel to the new schools.

        In large cities, transportation is much better than those places that are more spread out. Those cities that are spread out and don't have established transportation systems are not going to do as well those cities that are well established. In big cities, with established infrastructure, students can get to schools more easily than others.

        Programming aside, if kids can't get to the schools easily, then they just won't go. The idea is sound, but the application without infrastructure doesn't serve the stated needs.
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          Oct 20 2013: It's not the kids decision whether they want to go to a school, initially anyways, but the parents. In the future generations I believe people will plan to live in areas where they can offer their children the best they can give, assuming they care about their kids future. I feel that parental apathy for their child's future is sometimes another issue, but it's hard to mediate that issue without knowledge of individual situations. I think most parents do care for their child, but they may not think of the potential future outcomes for certain actions and events, like giving your child too much without them understanding the effort needed to be put into earning a living may create a spoiled child.
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      Oct 20 2013: Options are good, but hopefully someday all those options are at or near equal standings with each other.
      • Oct 26 2013: The idea of equal or near equal options for all individuals is a wonderful dream. Sadly, for this truly to happen, massive and radical changes would have to occur in the central fabric of the world values based on education.

        In a perfect world, equal options would be available. In current society, options are available for those with time, money and desire to access them. Most cases, only the wealthy or those in first world countries have access to that kind of choice.

        There would also need to be a significant change in the value system of parents. Parents, not just some, but all parents need to respect and value education. Not just think of it as daycare, but actually value their child getting ahead. That is a tough change to make.

        Right now, there are options and choices. Not all accessible by everybody. Some, are only accessible by the rich, others are accessible by those with the desire to improve their life. Others, are out there, but the parents have to take the first step and the schools have to deal with a host of issues in order to support many of those children as they need assistance beyond basic education.
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          Oct 27 2013: Maybe not perfect, but difficult to reach, though still reachable. I believe in the ideas you presented, but others have to be invested in this idealistic endeavor for progress to occur.

          It is a difficult journey to attain a malleable education system that can reach optimum potential for the current competing world for each school that exists, but nobody said big change was easy, though that should never stop us from trying.
  • Oct 16 2013: Let me discuss the other factors for which you are seeking remedies or improvement in the undesirable policy of public school system.
    It seems to me that your dissatisfaction is really concentrated in the school policies in general and residency requirement in particular. But for the public schools in rich area to maintain their excellence, or at least in higher level of the grading by the state education board, they have to choose the excess applicants from other areas in the support of student load by the available number of teachers as well as its physical facilities. Another problem is the rigid statewide policy of "zero-tolerance" for any "undesirable student conduct". Your rebellious conduct would not be a very serious one among adults, but , unfortunately, probably would be classified as intolerable , thus falling into the zero-tolerance list of conduct. Now here comes your application to the better school, with a record of "intolerable" conduct. Would the new school look carefully at your specific circumstances or not? The answer is probably not, especially they have lot of applicants to choose from. Furthermore, we already know that the school integration policy during the 70s didn't work, the public schools will be a mess, if the policy of unlimited free choice is adopted.
    Another bad public education policy is the requirement of the promotion of every student from one grade to the next grade; the so-called "No Child Left Behind". What this policy eventually does is to slow down all the students' learning in the same class to allow a few slow learners to advance to the next, but with ever lowering knowledge base. I truly sympathize with you on this, but you can see that these are the crucial points for the unfairness on which you were asking for solutions. But the critical answer is not necessarily the open enrollment. It's better to let the schools to take over the control of student conduct & the grade promotion policy, free of government interference.
    • W T

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      Oct 16 2013: Bart, your points are on the money......
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      Oct 19 2013: I think the issue is that the school didn't want to deal with my situation, so they rather keep me transitioning grade levels even though I was not prepared for the next level. I honestly believe that what should have been done in my school system is that I should have been held back from transitioning to the next grade level. I was not prepared and they knew I was not either because I spent most of my time being disciplined. Spending most of my days facing the wall inside the schools office, I didn't learn much at all and my grades were far from satisfactory. My parents were always arguing at home and everyone in my house was emotionally unstable, but I had no clue how to cope or communicate because I was always afraid of the next event. I am sure many kids are experiencing this and there are a lot of inspiring stories of people over-coming their obstacles, but those stories are one in so many less fortunate cases where the child didn't grow up better off or worse growing up mentally unstable and passing on their flawed beliefs of what a healthy family is like.

      I am at a much better place in life and I have shed a lot of the past and moved on with my own life, but what if someone could get a better chance in life and they are currently going through the same situation I did. I would want to do something to help them, but the more people with this mentality, then maybe it could inspire them to value knowledge, compassion, patience, and the people all around them, even the people deemed "undesirable".

      My mother always told me that "you won't know true pain until the feeling of needle hits you in the heart", but maybe dialogue aimed at understanding and learning another's pain is better than experiencing it first hand or ignorantly spreading the pain around.
  • Oct 16 2013: I am not sure this will work. Local schools in most places are paid by local property taxes - open enrollment means a different method of paying for school. Look at Hawaii, they had the state take over running all schools and property taxes went down but did the schools get better. It became easier for students to move from school to different schools - go out of district but they needed approval from the receiving school. That means the school could pick the students they wanted out of district.

    Look at New York city with its magnet schools - all the students want to go there but there is not enough room and the selection is tough. So lets suppose we have schools and allow open enrollment - how do you manage it? A student says they want to go to Brooklyn Tech and they go without the proper prep and I do not mean just the course work, i mean the support of the family, the work ethic (girt), etc.

    Too many students today think it is the job of the school to teach but they have the responsibility and the job to learn. Talk to any good teacher and they will say the key to a student's success is their family background, starting probably before birth.
    • W T

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      Oct 16 2013: I did not know that about Hawaii.......we have magnet schools here in my state, but not all of them are good.
      Thanks for sharing these points.
      • Oct 17 2013: Sorry about the magnet schools not being good. Hawaii felt it would level the playing field and it did but the rich districts paid for extras through contributions.
  • W T

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    Oct 15 2013: Nice to see you again Derek.

    Do you mean to say that children should be able to attend any school, regardless of where they live?
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      Oct 15 2013: Hi Mary!

      It's good to be back.

      Yes, that is precisely what I mean. =)
      • W T

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        Oct 15 2013: Ok then.........this has been tried......back in the 70's. Of course they used a different name for it.
        Look at what happened in one city:

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          Oct 15 2013: I feel that the issue isn't what schools are good for kids, but what schools can offer students and parents, while the ultimate choice resides in the parents in conjunction with the students and not a busing system.

          The article is talking about desegregation and I don't really feel that, that is the issue I want to focus on.

          I don't know what schools should offer, but I think that schools should prepare students for more than the next grade level in the K-12 systems.

          I speak from my own experiences that the public school system pegged me as a trouble child and all I was prepared for was the next grade level. I often spent my days sitting in the office because I was the social pariah at my school and I didn't have any socials skills. Teachers kept me out of sight and it felt as though nothing stuck to my mind. I'm pretty sure there was a whole lot of factors, but I was seeking a fresh start and so were my parents.

          I tried to switch schools, but it was not within range of my home, though the school was physically closer. My residence was "out of their bounds". I felt restricted and put down by the system that promised to help students, even the student I was, but it obviously let me slip through the cracks. I am the first generation of my family living in America, so my parents lacked a lot of knowledge, but what if schools could be different from the one I grew up in?
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        Oct 15 2013: The case you describe is a real failure of advocacy. Many districts in urban areas can reassign a student on the basis of need. Many districts have advocates in place to take on cases such as yours.

        I have not read the article Mary linked, but the often used policy that fits your interest is called "open enrollment." Wiith that policy, a family can apply for any school in a particular catchment area or even within the city.

        As schools have limited capacity, not everyone can get their first choice of school. There are usually some factors that are adopted that give a student priority. A common one is sibling preference. Another for grade school students might be living within walking distance. Another might be need for a special program or facility at the school.

        Even districts that have been happy with that system often revert to neighborhood schools for a variety of reasons. In the recent economic climate, districts may shift away from wide open enrollment because the cost of providing free bus transportation is unsustainable. Families tend to prefer for education dollars to be concentrated more on education itself than on transportation of kids to and from school.
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          Oct 15 2013: Hi Fritzie,

          If schools can't afford free bus transportation, then they won't provide it, but why not keep open enrollment?

          Give families the option to choose another form of transportation, assuming that they value better education for their kids.

          I was marginalized as a child by other students as well at the administrators themselves from K-8, but from 9-12 I was very behind in both school and other skills even though I managed to barely graduate. The voices of reason were supposed to be the administrators of the school district, but they told my mother to just sit it out and everything will be fine. The repercussions have appeared throughout my life, but only within the past few years has my life felt more stable. I have a lot to catch up on in my life still and it feels that my unstable upbringing with an unfair education system is the cause.

          I just hope the future is somehow fair for the majority of the next generations to come, but idealistically I hope the K-12 system is fair for everyone. I think open enrollment could be beneficial in preparing students to become better functioning adults.
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        Oct 15 2013: That position would disproportionately benefit those who can do without free transportation to school.

        I am also first generation born here. We kept moving from one rental to another to be inside the enrollment boundaries of better schools. There was no choice where I grew up. Here there is lots of choice.