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Denver Post Highlights Growing Trend of Parents Exercising Public School Choice

Update, 4/8: Denise at Colorado Charters offers more specific reasons why so many Denver families are exercising public school choice.

Interesting news today from the Denver Post today under the headline “53 percent of DPS students opt out of assigned campuses.” Colorado has one of the nation’s very best, parent-friendly open enrollment laws — in effect for nearly two decades — which allows students to transfer to a public school outside their zone of residence under certain basic conditions. Individual districts approve the specific parameters of their own open enrollment policies.

What the Post article highlights is the continuation of a steady upward trend in the share of families exercising public school choice. Ten years ago about 3 percent of Colorado public school students were enrolled in a district outside their residence; today it’s closer to 8 percent. You can check out the state department of education data for yourself.

Tracking students who exercise intra-district choice (going to a school outside their neighborhood but within the same school district) is harder to do, because records aren’t kept in one place. So kudos goes to the Post’s Yesenia Robles for obtaining the info on the percentages of students exercising open enrollment in some of metro Denver’s largest school districts (fall 2010 enrollment in parentheses):

  • Jefferson County (85,938): 31 percent
  • Denver (78,317): 53 percent
  • Douglas County (61,465): 21 percent
  • Aurora (38,605): 16.4 percent
  • Boulder Valley (29,526): between 25 and 31 percent

These figures include students who have enrolled in a public charter school, district magnet or option school, full-time online program, or just another neighborhood school outside their zone of residence. Apparently, no information was shared from Cherry Creek or Adams 12 — the area’s two other large districts.

As I like to remind my readers often, all the best open enrollment information and resources Colorado families need can be found on the parent-friendly School Choice for Kids website.