As more parents learn about the benefits of charter schools, many are trying to get their child into one even if it means taking their chances with a random lottery. These parents are willing to do whatever it takes to get their child the best education possible.

Charter schools are free public schools. Since charter schools are open-enrollment and may not have a seat for every student that applies, the schools hold a lottery to determine admission for the following school year.

Last week, we witnessed firsthand a lottery at a college preparatory charter school in South Austin, the Harmony School of Excellence. The school had 79 applicants for 48 spots in its two kindergarten classes for 2010-11. In grades one through eight, more than 400 students had applied for a total of nine vacancies. The names of the applicants were written on cards and drawn from a basket in the presence of many of the parents of school children who have applied for openings at Harmony. Children whose names were not selected in the lottery will go on the waiting list for that campus. Two Austin TV stations covered the lotteries, interviewing the principal and parents.



Charter school lotteries are happening all over the state this spring as tens of thousands of students are on a waiting list in Texas to attend a charter school. After surveying charter schools around the state, the Foundation released an updated charter school waiting list number and found that the Texas charter school waiting list had more than doubled from nearly 17,000 for the 2007-08 school year to more than 40,000 students for the 2008-09 school year.

Each child on the waiting list has their own story and deserves to attend the school that best meets their needs. Hopefully, Texas lawmakers will eliminate the cap on charter schools and allow for more open-enrollment charter schools to open in Texas to meet the high student and parental demand.

– Brooke Terry