The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

March 6, 2014

Open enrollment in Ohio schools leads to racial, economic segregation

AKRON — Open enrollment, which allows children to transfer from one school district to another, leads to widespread racial segregation and concentrates poverty in many of Ohio’s urban school districts.

That’s one finding of an Akron Beacon Journal study of more than 8,000 Ohio students who left city schools last year for an education in wealthier suburban communities.

The majority of students who participated in Ohio’s oldest school choice program are disproportionately white and middle class. Students attending the schools they left, however, are nearly twice as likely to be minority and seven times more likely to be poor.

The program gives parents the option to enroll children in nearby school districts without changing their home address. By doing so, parents must find their own transportation - an act that in itself narrows who is able to make the change.

And, at least in the case of Akron students transferring to suburban Coventry schools, there is evidence that they excel. A study of test scores shows that nonresident students out-perform Coventry children in grades four through eight.

Like her two younger sisters, Cassie Kelley is a straight-A student at Coventry. The thought of attending Akron schools, where her parents graduated in the late 1980s, has never crossed the senior’s mind.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “I’ve never had an issue at Coventry. The teachers are respectful and nice. The students are great. It’s a nice environment. I feel safe.”

Her parents, a city engineer and a self-employed entrepreneur, have raised Cassie in what her father calls a “middle-class neighborhood” in South Akron.

Cassie might have gone to Kenmore or Garfield - Akron schools hardest hit by open enrollment - had her parents not chosen the Coventry school district when she was 5.

Of the 1,947 students who left Akron through open enrollment last year, more than half would have attended those two school clusters.

Neighborhoods with the fewest students leaving are Firestone, which also graduates the highest percentage of college-ready students in the city, and Buchtel, a largely low-income, African-American community. Those schools border the upscale, suburban Copley-Fairlawn school district, which does not accept open-enrollment students.

Garfield and Kenmore residents are conveniently located near Springfield, Norton and Coventry, which draw the most Summit County students through open enrollment. School districts in Summit County that accept no open-enrollment students are Copley-Fairlawn, Revere, Hudson, Nordonia Hills, Tallmadge and Twinsburg.

Other schools may accept only a limited number of students until they fill seats and optimize efficiency.

Akron, compared to other major cities, has more border districts with open enrollment. Nearly all suburban school districts surrounding Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Cincinnati and Dayton block outsiders, forcing parents - with no alternative for a public education - to take a chance on charter schools, which have performed on a whole no better than the urban schools they set out to reform more than 15 years ago.

The Kelleys drop their daughters off at a Coventry school each morning so they don’t have to get up early to catch a bus. With careful consideration to the family’s finances, they bought a second family car, a 2007 Nissan Sentra, for Cassie to commute between Coventry High School and Stark State College, where she’s wrapping up a four-semester head start on a nursing degree.

In the afternoon, Cassie’s parents drive a mile south of their home off South Arlington Street and pick up the younger sisters, 16 and 12, at a “very convenient” bus stop that caters to open-enrollment students.

Brent Kelley, Cassie’s father, takes his daughters’ education very seriously. He has taught them to be fiscally responsible, to live debt free and to take advantage of the best education he can provide.

“For me, it’s what’s best for my kids, and then what do I have to do to make sure that that happens,” Brent said.

“It’s up to the parents to make sure that their kids are in the right district. And if they don’t feel like they’re in the right district, then they need to take the initiative to find the right district for their kids,” he said.



For each student who leaves, $5,745 in state funding follows. It’s an incentive that drives some suburban schools to accept more students. Coventry, for example, receives $2,178 in state aid for each of its own students, or less than half of what the state gives to accept an open-enrolled student.

Districts cannot stop students from leaving.

Reasons districts may want to accept students:

-It helps fill a budget gap.

-It fills classroom seats that otherwise would be empty, thus maximizing income for each class.

-It helps sustain or create course offerings or extracurricular programs that otherwise would not be available.


Text Only
World, nation, state
  • U.S. blasts Israel for Kerry criticism

    The Obama administration pushed back strongly Monday at a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest bid to secure a cease-fire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of launching a “misinformation campaign” against the top American diplomat.

    July 29, 2014

  • Outlook on Medicare finances improves

    Medicare’s finances are looking brighter, the government said Monday. The program’s giant hospital trust fund won’t be exhausted until 2030 — four years later than last year’s estimate.

    July 29, 2014

  • Plan to simplify 2015 health renewals may backfire

    If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hospital shooting suspect charged with murder

    A man accused of fatally shooting his caseworker and grazing his psychiatrist at a suburban Philadelphia hospital complex before the doctor returned fire has been charged with murder.

    July 28, 2014

  • Man seeks video of Oklahoma City bombing

    One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

    July 28, 2014

  • Bill in Congress to help veterans with PTSD

    A group of lawmakers have joined together to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Post Traumatic Brain Injury (PTBI) and other war injuries get speedy medical treatment — and avoid Veteran’s Administration bureaucracy and Department of Defense lack of accountability.

    July 28, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia has fired rockets into Ukraine

    Stepping up pressure on Moscow, the U.S. on Sunday released satellite images it says show that rockets have been fired from Russia into neighboring eastern Ukraine and that heavy artillery for separatists also has crossed the border.

    July 28, 2014

  • U.S. says Russia is firing across border into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.

    July 25, 2014

  • Gaza sides agree to lull but truce efforts stall

     Israel-Hamas fighting looked headed for escalation after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed Friday to broker a weeklong truce as a first step toward a broader deal and Israel’s defense minister warned Israel might soon expand its Gaza ground operation “significantly.”

    July 25, 2014

  • Planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in Netherlands

    Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

    July 24, 2014

House Ads

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video