This week the nation celebrates National School Choice Week, a national event designed to spread the word that every child deserves the chance at a great education. Each day this week the Goldwater Institute will share the story of a family that has used their freedom to choose the best educational setting for their child—from choosing a public school outside their home district to Arizona’s cutting-edge education savings accounts and beyond.
“Open enrollment” was the first school choice program in Arizona and more parents take advantage of this school choice avenue than any other available. Arizona is one of 17 states that allow children to enroll in a public school outside of their assigned school boundaries. Here’s how open enrollment works: if your child is assigned to a school in Tempe Union, for example, but you know of a school in Mesa Unified that would challenge your child, you could apply to the school in Mesa. Subject to space constraints, parents can choose from any public school in Arizona and send their children there at no cost.
Tara’s experience choosing a school for her children is typical of the process for most Arizona families that use open enrollment. “I learned a little bit about each school and looked up things online about them, and you look for the things that will be the best fit for your son or daughter,” she says.
“It wasn’t difficult at all. All the paperwork is online. I would go down to the school when open enrollment opened because it’s first-come, first-serve (once the paperwork is completed),” she explains. Once she completed the application for her school of choice and returned it to the school’s office, the school contacted her to let her know space was available.
Arizona is home to more than 2,000 traditional and charter public schools. The state’s open enrollment law gives every parent the chance to choose a great school for their child, no matter what school their child was assigned to attend.