The LAUSD school board will be considering a plan to allow students to choose their schools, rather than be zoned for specific campuses by address, according to the Daily News.  Families would apply to the school of their choice.  Obviously the details have to be worked out, but the implications are tremendous.

The proposal, presented by Nury Martinez and Monica Garcia, would create competition for students and potentially attract families back to the district from charters and private schools.

The district has always had a cobbled together approach to choice–magnets, open enrollment at specific campuses, and SAS programs for gifted students.  This proposal would allow any student to apply to any campus.  What remains to be seen is if this would remove home-field advantage for people living in specific neighborhoods.  A similar policy in San Francisco is notorious for causing difficulty as parents rank their choices–and there is no preference for neighborhood families.  Clearly families who purchased in highly sought after school boundaries will have concerns on how the program is implemented and how it will affect property values.  In addition, there’s not enough spaces at all the schools ranked 8, 9 or 10 for every student in the district.  Conversely, shouldn’t we be focusing on having excellent schools in EVERY neighborhood?  That is clearly not the current case.

School campuses would essentially compete for students and create programs that appeal to families would draw students back to the district.  Campuses that don’t create appealing programs would lose enrollment and be forced to change.  Schools could conceivably experiment with their calendar, their schedule, or their theme to merit community support.  Of course, the proof would be in the success of the program–test scores or graduation rates.

It’s interesting.  It’s incredibly exciting.  Now, let’s just hope that it actually works.


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