Equitable Public School Enrollment for Oakland

by Mirella Rangel

The Oakland Unified School District’s proposal to change its enrollment process has gained the attention of the Oakland community. At the December 2 School Board Meeting, access and equity headlined the plan to provide greater access and equity to all of our families throughout the enrollment process.
A number of issues and strategies were raised about enrollment and how OUSD can improve the current process so that we can meet the needs of all students and families.
Key issues centered on what we as a city can do to increase equity and access to ALL Oakland families. Components of the proposal were:
  • Increased access and functionality of the current system
    • More satellite offices
    • Clear and transparent information
    • Ensuring transportation is not a barrier for families’ decisions on enrollment
  • A single citywide enrollment process
    • Common Enrollment, proposal to have one application process and system for all public schools, district- or charter-run
  • Improved information and outreach for families on the enrollment process
  • Prioritization of students within a school feeder pattern
    • School feeder patterns determine the schools that students follow as they graduate from one school to the next; the goal is to keep students together as they feed from elementary school, to middle school, and finally to high school
December 2nd’s meeting provided the opportunity and space for us to discuss ways to increase access and equity, and it was just the beginning of an ongoing conversation to improve OUSD’s enrollment process.
Are you interested in joining the conversation? Don´t hesitate to contact Mirella Rangel at mirella@gopublicschools.org.
We have pulled select slides from Wednesday’s presentation to help in highlighting the issues. Those slides can be found below. To view the full presentation on enrollment, please click here.

The asks of the Board

– The theme of both asks was centered around how to increase equity and access to all families

The challenge at hand

– Enrollment is a tool for parents;
77% of whom believe that the enrollment system should be updated or replaced

– 73% think a single system would
be best

What’s not working with the current system

– District staff gathered these issues from the enrollment survey with
over 450 submissions, as well as
three focus groups and over 40 individual interviews

The work left to do

– In order to achieve its goal of providing an equitable enrollment system that is aligned with the strategic plan, the district must correct the flaws within its own by increasing access and information

– However, to have a truly
equitable enrollment system
requires participation and access
to all the public schools (Common Enrollment)

How we will accomplish our goals 

– District is designing an equitable system that meets parents’ needs

– Equitable: single set of enrollment rules that everyone has to play by; no holding spots; no more waitlists

– Meeting parents’ needs: no longer need to fill out multiple applications, enrollment centers across the city
for ease of access

Why include charter schools

– There are 65,740 school-aged children in Oakland, of which OUSD is responsible for 46,740 and of that number 10,348 are enrolled in district-authorized charter schools

– To give schools the necessary
tools to plan efficiently and effectively and to avoid roster instability, all schools must be in the system

– Makes all schools play by the
same enrollment process, application, and deadline

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