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The Re-Emergence of Open Enrollment

It may seem like a bit of a retro idea in this era of charter school growth and voucher expansion, but Michigan officials are making a push toward "open enrollment," in the hope of expand families' school options.

The basic idea behind open enrollment is to allow students to attend schools outside their district boundries, with few limitations. It's being promoted by Republicans in the legislature as part of a menu of options meant to expand public school choice, steps that also include an expansion of charters and cyber schools, dual enrollment and other means. First-term Republican Gov. Rick Synder has also made breaking down traditional barriers between schools and districts a priority.

There are also hints of a move toward promoting open enrollment in Missouri, and don't be surprised if other states consider removing restrictions on where students can attend school.

Michigan officials appear to be pursuing public, rather than private-school choice options for legal, as well as political and educational reasons. The state's constitution is widely regarded as unfavorable to voucher programs, and a number of observers from the state told me there seems to be little interest among policymakers in going down that path, if it's a dead end.

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