Learn about National School Choice Week and how public schools can improve access to enrollment.
All around the nation, there’s concern about participation in school choice — specifically in regards to families of low socioeconomic status. As school options and school choice policies expand, educators are rightly asking if all families benefit from these changes.
The concern is largely rooted in the systematic barriers that can prevent families from participating in enrollment with public school districts and public charter schools.
It can be quite a complex process to enroll a student in a school other than the one they’re assigned. For any family to apply, it takes:
- Knowledge of the education system
- Advanced planning
- Transportation to/from schools or enrollment centers
- Flexible work schedules or free time
- Fluency in English to complete enrollment paperwork needed to apply
Families of minority, low-income, or other disadvantaged backgrounds may face barriers to enrollment because of the aforementioned areas. Expanding accessibility is thus critical to giving these families access to the education option that’s right for them.
What is National School Choice Week?
Founded in 2011, National School Choice Week raises awareness about the six broad categories of education options for parents and guardians: traditional public schools, public charter schools, private schools, public magnet schools, online schools, and homeschool options.
At SchoolMint, we offer strategic software and services that help traditional school districts and public charter schools attract and enroll parents, guardians, and children.
We exist to help you — a district school or charter school leader — show the parents and guardians in your community why your school can be the perfect fit for their child’s social, emotional, and academic needs.
What is School Choice in K-12?
At its core, school choice is exactly what it sounds like: letting each family choose the K-12 education option that best suits their family’s needs. Since each child is unique, each child learns differently and may have completely different needs at home than even the family next door.
As National School Choice Week’s website notes, schools in one community can vary dramatically on a variety of measures:
- Academic offerings and programs
- Activities, clubs, and extracurriculars
- Student achievement and other outcomes
- Student supports
But families — who are looking at your school typically from an outsider’s perspective — may not understand these differences. Schools often have little or no budget for marketing or communicating programs to the communities they serve.
Because of this, families may need to visit many websites and or call numerous school offices for answers to their questions.
Unfortunately, many families can’t afford to spend that time or energy digging in. This may result in them making a school choice that’s not best for their situation.
Barriers to Enrollment and School Choice
Some families, because of their situations, may distance themselves from a school’s office, which makes it harder for them to effectively advocate for their child.
The reasons for this distance vary:
- A parent or guardian who didn’t have an ideal experience with school in their own childhood.
- Families who don’t trust school choice policies are fair because of recent negative experiences.
- Families who don’t understand how school choice works, because they haven’t been informed or because they are new to the country or the K-12 education system.
While not every city has the same history or socioeconomic profile, in any choice environment, there are likely some groups who are participating less than others.
Thus, in enrollment, there are important roles for both technology and humans to play. And by making sure each — technology and humans — is allowed to do what they do best, you can increase family engagement and serve families who are at a disadvantage.
Helping Families Navigate the K-12 School Search and Decision Process
In many of the traditional public school districts and public charter schools SchoolMint partners with, technology has helped remove barriers to enrollment for families of all backgrounds.
- Technology can transform a clunky, pencil-and-paper enrollment process into one that’s online, multilingual, communicative, and mobile-friendly.
- The ease and accessibility of an online interface expands enrollment options to all parents and guardians — even for those who may not be familiar with enrollment technology.
- After transforming the way their families choose and enroll in school, many of our partners quickly see improved participation.
From strategic marketing services to an online enrollment platform, SchoolMint can help you get the word out about why your school is the best option in your community and help you enroll families.
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