Today is the final day for kindergarten open enrollment. Kindergarten is an institution that is most children’s first experience with a structured environment. It is not even required by the state of Colorado. I could hold the kids out and they could enter first grade at age 6.
For most families, open enrollment means letting the local school know that you have a child who will be 5 years old before October 1st and would like to enroll them in Kindergarten. If for some reason you don’t like your local school, you can ask all other public schools in the area if they can accommodate your child. There is no cost to you, except transportation back and forth. Bus service is limited to the local school only.
Since Colorado began allowing charter programs in 1993, there is another dynamic. Charter schools have limited enrollment based on class size and will gauge interest every year and randomly select students to enroll. This exclusivity has created demand exceeding supply. “If it is hard to get in, it must be better.” I don’t believe that is the case. However, I believe the faculty and administration at these schools know they must maintain parity or better with local schools to ensure community interest. To that end, I believe charter schools are more accountable to core learning and ensuring their students are successful in high school.
Charters promote their schools as well. They will host meetings to showcase their school and faculty. Local schools just give you the numbers in terms of demographics and CSAP scores. That is not to say that they are worse, but they are guaranteed funding, whereas charters must manage their budgets more carefully. The newer charter schools will not be in custom buildings, but could be in strip malls, converted churches, or other existing dwellings. Several do have cafeterias and gym facilities, but all do not.
The families self select as well. Parents with less time to volunteer or less interest in the curriculum the school is following will shy away from charter schools. Families with closer bonds to neighbors will also be more drawn to local schools.
However if you get turned on by understanding what Saxon math, Shurley grammar, Balanced Literacy and Open Court reading means, the charter program offers you a wonderful opportunity to fine tune your child’s education.