Following Friday’s report on school open enrollment quotas, the second part of the story looks at how it impacts families.
Des Moines Public School District is one district struggling to maintain balance. The district revised a new open enrollment policy last fall but families are just now beginning to feel the true impact and what it could mean for their child’s education.
Kindergartener, Ireland McNew is a smart cookie, already reading at the second grade level but her parents worry the school she is forced to attend wont challenge her enough, “My biggest fear for Ireland is that she`ll just get bored, that the school won’t be challenging, she`ll be bored which is exactly why we asked for another school,” said mom, Heather Ryan.
Her daughter was supposed to attend Stowe Elementary, just down the road from them but after their neighborhood was redistricted she now goes to Capitol View Elementary; one of Des Moines poorest schools.
“When we found out she was going there I was mortified, I don`t want my child to go to a prison school.”
The family applied to open enroll back at Stowe but their application was rejected. The family makes too little money.
“That`s really the goal here is to not let any one school become too extreme in either direction,” explained Phil Rader of Des Moines Public Schools. He says schools should have a balance of all income levels.
Heather Ryan doesn’t think that’s fair.
“We do qualify for free and reduced lunch which is a slap in the face that the school board is basically saying, you don`t make enough to move out of the school district in which we`ve placed you, even though it’s not close to your house, because you don`t make enough money.”
They’re now considering pulling their daughter from the public school system and putting her in a private school.
In their opinion, her education at Capitol View isn’t making the grade, “She`s not given an opportunity academically to even excel. She is expected to be mediocre.”
Before this new policy went into effect, Des Moines Public School District already had the greatest number of students open enrolling out of the district.
According to the Iowa Department of Education, Des Moines ranks number one for the most students enrolling out of the district.
This year, more than 1,400 students left the district, while about 562 students open enrolled into the district.
Des Moines isn’t the only metro school with more students leaving than coming in.
West Des Moines ranks fourth for enrollment out of the district with 614 students leaving, while 578 open enrolled into the district.