Open Enrollment Policy

January 15th, 2009 by

To the Fuquay Varina Independent

Dear Editor,

The Wake County Board of Education brings unnecessary grief on itself by its annual reassignment exercise. This year’s plan would move 25,486 students to another school over the next three years. Parents are understandably upset at the inconvenience and the unfortunate outcomes that result for their children. This year’s battle reminded me of a recent conversation:

I drove from Apex to Holly Springs to shop for groceries. At checkout the cashier asked for identification. He told me that since I did not live in town I could not buy his groceries.

“What? I prefer your fresh meats and esoteric argula. And your prices are lower”.

“It doesn’t matter”, he said. “It’s a new policy. Everyone is now going to shop where the County Commissioners decide. They have created shopping zones. No more going from town to town to ‘cherry pick’ the best deals. You are fortunate that they did not assign you to a grocery zone in Raleigh which never has fresh argula.”

“But your store is on my way to work. It is more convenient for me to shop here.”

“It doesn’t matter”, he said. “The county thinks you should shop where you are assigned and not try to get an unfair advantage over someone else just because you have a car.”

“But”, I replied. “This is not the American way, freedom for all.”

“Listen, buster. I don’t know what America you grew up in. The grocery stores in your zone are going to go to pot if they are allowed to ‘skim the cream’ of the best customers.”

Have your ever heard such an insane conversation? We would never put up with such a system for groceries. But we do with our public schools.

Each school district has attendance zones. It does not matter whether that school is the best for your child or not. If you are on one side of a line drawn on a piece of paper your child will go to that public school.

Next time you pass one restaurant to go to another give thanks that the people who thought up the school system don’t control the entire economy.

Maybe you can urge the Wake County Board of Education to adopt a modified open enrollment policy on a first come, first serve basis. Those who attended the year before would have priority. Those with a brother or sister enrolled would have priority to enroll in the same school. And no one could claim entitlement to transportation at public expense to go to a school beyond an agreed distance. There would be other practical limitations.

But the principle is sound. Let’s get freedom – American style – back into school assignments with an open enrollment policy.