New school entrance rules set by a district-level education authority in the capital are being called discriminatory against those who do not hold Beijing household registration certificates, or hukou.
Parents of children affected by the rule say it is biased against low-income families from outside Beijing and may prevent their children from starting school.
Hundreds of parents have been protesting to the Tongzhou district government for setting the rule, saying it deprived their children of an equal education.
Parents erected banners and shouted slogans saying education was an "equal right".
"We understand Beijing needs to control the population," said Chen Na, 33, a protesting parent.
"But you can't link the parents' social insurance payment to a child's education.
"Children are entitled by law to receive primary and middle school education either in the place of their household registration or where their guardian lives and works."
Beijing's education authority asked the parents of school-age children to register online within the month.
Strict standards were set for families who do not hold Beijing household registrations.
Different districts in Beijing have different rules and those in Tongzhou are seen as very restrictive.
Parents must provide certificates proving they are allowed to reside in the capital, have a place of residence, legal employment and that no guardian is available to care for the child where the household is registered.
It is a hurdle too high for many. Proof of employment is not merely a pay stub.
The education authority wants to ensure that parents and their employers are based in the district and paying into its insurance fund.
Chen has been living in Beijing since 2000 and her husband has been paying income tax in the capital's Changping district. They rent a flat in Tongzhou. Their child will be excluded under the rule.
An open letter by Zhang Qianfan , a law professor at Peking University and Li Dun, a sociology professor at Tsinghua University, said it was irresponsible to use children's education to control the population of non-Beijing residents.