Educational Editorial: Richmond open enrollment program

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Richmond City Schools has an open enrollment program that permits parents to apply to send their children to schools outside of their community.

The City has recently announced that it will reduce the number of options that parents may list from three to two. While it is great that "any" program is offered, the recent changes are headed in the wrong direction.

Long resistant to school choice, Richmond has a Mayor who introduced a charter bill as a legislator, a school board that has embraced the potential of charter proposals, and a superintendent who is more open that any in recent history to the idea that parents should have more options for their children.

Governor-Elect Bob McDonnell -- who is working to enlarge the tent of public policy to accommodate both "sides of the isle" -- has projected charter schools and choice to be signature initiatives.

In the December CEPI at VCU Commonwealth Education Poll, Virginians supported charter schools, when defined, by a two to one margin. While changing the policy to simply reduce the number of potential options may seem minor, it clearly sends a signal that is counter to public and political will.

Some tax-paying private school parents make their applications with the hope of returning to public schools of their choice…AND according to previous polls young African American parents more than any other group across Virginia support school choice.

A Friedman Foundation study found that Virginians are proud of their public schools…but they also want to have choices. Metaphorically, Richmond has an opportunity to raise their sails and catch the wind of public and political clearly is not the time to drop anchor.

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