Kristen Acton is a registered nurse, Member of the Maricopa County Board of Health representing District 2, a small business owner, mom to three and member of the Agua Fria Union High School District Governing Board.
As an Arizona native and product of our public schools, I am proud that Arizona has become a national leader for school choice and allowing families to access multiple public school options that best meet the needs of their children. As a mom and member of the Agua Fria Union High School Governing Board, I know that access to a quality classroom can change a child’s life for the better. I am an education advocate, which means I support policies that empower every family to make the best education decision for their children.
For some, like my family, this means the neighborhood school. Our neighborhood district school is the place my husband and I have chosen to educate our children and it is the hub of our community. But, for others it is a public school twenty miles away that best serves the unique needs of that child. Regardless of the location of the public school, the process and mechanism in which to attend should be fair and equitable. They are, after all – public schools.
Arizona families are fortunate to have public school open enrollment, meaning parents are not limited by school boundary lines if there is classroom capacity available at another school. While open enrollment has met the needs of many families since 1980, like many things that have been around for decades, it is time to modernize the system and streamline the process. Right now, districts and charter networks have different policies, procedures, and timelines for enrollment, despite all being public schools. Can you imagine how confusing this can be for parents who are trying to navigate the system to get their children out of a low performing school. It presents an unfair burden and limits access to a system that is taxpayer supported. These disparities need to be addressed and the system made the same for all.
Luckily, forward-minded leaders at the Arizona Legislature are pursuing an effort to modernize the open enrollment system with HB2427. This bill makes common sense, something that government is missing far too often. The changes in the bill provide equal access for all families. It requires schools to simplify and make more transparent the process for parents to enroll their child in a public school. It also limits the amount of personal information schools may request about students before they are enrolled, removing questions that are not required by every district.
Everyone who supports public education, and understands our children get one chance and are counting on us to provide it, should support this bill. High quality classrooms should not be accessible to only the wealthy and well-connected, it should be an easy process for any parent to navigate.
We need our local leaders to step up and help give parents the tools to enroll their children into the public school of their choice. No parent should feel trapped trying to navigate giving their child access to better options. HB2427 recognizes and supports parent choice and the true meaning of public education.