Despite No Child Left Behind, children enrolled in dangerous and failing schools have no way out, writes Lisa Snell on Reason Online.
Many parents of students in failing schools are not even aware of the right to transfer. A federally funded survey of Buffalo parents by the Brighter Choice Public School Project found that 75 percent of the parents surveyed did not realize their children attended a school designated as in need of improvement, which means it did not make adequate yearly progress in reading or math for two consecutive years. A full 92 percent said they would like to switch schools.
Good schools tend to be filled to capacity, so students who seek transfers often end up at schools that are just as bad as the ones they’ve left.
Under NCLB, Title I federal funding — money used to provide extra educational services to disadvantaged students in high-poverty schools — does not follow children to better-performing, non-Title I schools.
. . . In Palm Beach County, Florida, district officials are projecting that as many as 50,000 students at 64 of the poorest schools could choose another school this fall. But here again, many high-performing schools will be off-limits — and parents will have only two weeks to decide whether they want their children to move.
Many more parents would request transfers, if they could choose a decent school, Snell argues. In most cities, that would require opening up the private and parochial schools.
In Los Angeles in 2003, only 229 children managed to transfer to a different public school under No Child Left Behind. Yet the Southern California Children’s Scholarship Fund placed 1,600 children and has a waiting list of more than 5,000 names. Los Angeles charter schools such as Fenton Avenue Charter School, Camino Nuevo, and Accelerated Learning also have long waiting lists.
NCLB’s transfer promises aren’t enforceable, Snell writes. Parents can’t sue if they’re denied transfers.