The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

Calls to end 1988

Open enrollment controversy in Park
Davieon Williams-Charles
Newly enrolled junior Adam Kamel gets off the bus ready to start his day March 5. Park gives newly enrolled students free transportation to get to and from school every day.

Open enrollment at Park has surfaced as a contentious issue. Some parents are calling for a close to open enrollment for the entire district, while some are saying that call to action is racially motivated. As American education enters the forefront of discussion, open enrollment is right in the midst of it. In 1988, the Minnesota legislature passed the nation’s first open enrollment policies, requiring districts to allow and accept students from outside their district lines.

In expressing her personal opinion on the matter, superintendent Dr. Kate Maguire said open enrollment allows parents and kids to have power.

“There is power in parents and students having a choice about where they want to go. If you are attending school — a school that is a match for who you are, for your heart, for your mind, for the activities that you want to be engaged in — I think there’s a lot of power in that,” Maguire said. “(When) you’re in a place where you feel like you belong and can succeed and you have chosen that place, there’s a lot of power in choice.”

According to Safa Ali, a senior who is open enrolled in Park, open enrollment offers a lot to kids outside of city boundaries.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for kids outside of the district,” said Ali. “I came because (Park) offered buses and seemed pretty diverse.”

Andrew Margalli, a sophomore and resident of St. Louis Park, said he had similar ideas of open enrollment being an advantageous policy for students.

“It’s really beneficial to many kids from outside St. Louis Park because some kids outside of St. Louis Park might not have a good school,” said Margalli.

Thomas Smith, a junior who is open enrolled, said there is not a difference between kids of different cities.

“I don’t see the difference between having only people from St. Louis Park versus people from Minneapolis,” said Smith. “I don’t think there is going to be a huge difference between the residents of either city.”

Resurgence of open enrollment has left some people calling for it to be closed at Park, and some saying that calls to close open enrollment have racial undertones. Maguire said people who have called to close open enrollment have made her curious as to their intentions.

“I wonder if there might be community members who believe that students coming from other school districts are students of color and how that, in their minds, might relate to the fight that occurred on Jan. 18,” Maguire said. “I can’t help but wonder whether there is a relationship between that person (community member calling to close open enrollment) and their beliefs that, somehow, has them thinking that there’s othering (with open enrolled students). That’s not us — it’s not St. Louis Park. It’s someone else.”

Margalli said the only people who are calling to close open enrollment are White residents.

“Clearly, the only people that are saying these things — saying to close open enrollment — are predominantly White people, predominantly St. Louis Park residents and predominantly affluent people,” said Margalli.

Ali said White parents usually look at open enrolled kids whenever issues arise.

“White parents have usually put blame on kids outside of the district for problems,” said Ali. “A majority of kids that come from outside the district are minority students of color.”

Maguire said the calls to close open enrollment ignore a very pressing reality — funding for the school districts themselves.

“If we were to remove the students from St. Louis Park who are here on open enrollment, would community members be okay with the idea that we would likely lose millions of dollars from our budget? We would eliminate teachers, staff and courses,” said Maguire.

Margalli said he thinks it’s a racial issue and that the people calling for open enrollment to be closed are unable to see the reality open enrolled students face.

“I think that it’s a race issue. Some people can’t put themselves in the shoes of somebody from Minneapolis. They don’t understand the education structure, where the poorer you are, the lesser the quality of education you’ll receive,” Margalli said. “Whereas, on the contrary, it should be the poorer you are, the better education you would receive. They feel that having a diverse environment just isn’t ideal.”

While Park will remain open enrolled for the foreseeable future, following the 1988 policies, Maguire said while she is interim superintendent, she will not recommend to the school board to close open enrollment.

“As superintendent, I’m responsible to make recommendations to the school board for them to consider whether or not they would take that action (close open enrollment),” said Maguire. “At this time, I would not make that recommendation to the school board.”

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About the Contributors
Jaiden Leary, Echo Staffer
Hi my name's Jaiden Leary, I'm a junior and I like writing stories about politics and what's going on in the world. My current hobbies are reading and walking my dog. 
Davieon Williams-Charles, Echo Staffer
My name is Davieon Williams-Charles and I am a sophomore. Like football and basketball. I am really excited to join Echo to meet new people and take photos and write great new stories. I like to play sports with friends and play games. I can't wait for this year of Echo.

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