Unenroll NOLA:OneApp Don’t Love the Kids

The air is full of frustration in New Orleans among parents who have attempted to send their kids to the best NOLA schools. The deciding factor to get into New Orleans schools is a lottery based algorithm program called OneApp. Here’s is a link to how it all works according to EnrollNOLA the entity that runs OneApp through a partnership between the Orleans Parish School Board and the Recovery School District. This system was put into place after Hurricane Katrina to ensure that equity was spread across families of school age children in New Orleans. The purpose of the app was to bring equity to NOLA’s enrollment process and eliminate  hookups or favoritism and other strategies parents employed to get their children into our city’s best schools, the magnet schools. Under EnrollNOLA, magnet schools, which enrolled the best of the best through a testing system, would supposedly not exist anymore because all schools would be “good” schools.

Over the past few days, the most recent lottery drawing of OneApp results were made available to parents of school age children in New Orleans and by the buzz in the streets, trending topics on social media, and communications with colleagues in education, the results were far from satisfying to parents of New Orleans students. The OneApp process and resultshave families reeling and wondering what their next move should be…yet OneApp was supposed to eliminate this worry..

Here is a OneApp story from one of my colleagues, someone who has worked in education and with other families about their situations:

First, let me say that I understand that there are too few quality schools in New Orleans; therefore the majority of  parents are trying to get their kids into the same schools. That is why I was so excited when I was told they were opening an Audubon School in my neighborhood and that I was in a catchment zone; which increased my children’s odds of getting in.  I knew this school would be high on everyone’s list, so I knew there was a possibility that one or both of my girls would not get in. But considering how close we are to the school (see map below, a 10min walk), I really liked my chances. Well the OneApp results came out today and neither one of my girls got in.  And while I was always going to be disappointed if they did not get into this school, I would be happy if they got into 1 of the 5 other schools we chose on the OneApp. Well they did not get into any of those either. The closest that either one of my girls got to getting into any of these schools is to be #68 on a waiting list.  So here I am its April 11th and neither one of my girls has a school to go next year. I have a letter that says apply during the 2nd second round of OneApp and wait until June to see if they have a placement. June!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think that is a little late to make decisions on my children’s education. I can not put into words how pissed off I am.  #feeling-frustrated

Besides this example, many other binds occur from the OneApp incomplete results. There is the parent who has to make a decision whether to send his/her child back to the private or parochial school and whether to pay that non-refundable processing fee to those private schools. Some  parents can’t afford any private or parochial schools. Other parents have children that didn’t get any of their picks; they were told to reapply later this month and wait for results that won’t come until June. Newsflash: school starts in August. Can you imagine as a parent waiting to decide your child’s educational future at the last minute and not to mention having to secure uniforms in the final hours like that? That would be frustrating and in some cases devastating. I also want EnrollNOLA to answer this question, “Why would a child who parents made multiple picks not get into any school?”

Taking everything into account, it is obvious that New Orleans is still suffering from not enough quality school choices. It seems as if we are relying on the same small amount of quality schools that we relied on pre-Katrina.  Which brings us to a simple answer to a simple question. Can school choice effectively work without a city full of quality choices? The answer sadly is NO!

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