In the past, when elementary schools in our district were declared “schools in need of assistance” (“SINA schools”) under No Child Left Behind, their families were given the option of transferring out to other, non-SINA schools. A few years ago, my kids’ elementary school took in dozens of new students that way.
Now, the state is applying for a waiver from the requirements of No Child Left Behind. Apparently, if the federal government grants the waiver, districts would no longer be required to offer the transfer option to families at SINA schools. This would mean that the kids who were allowed to transfer to our school could be required to return to their designated attendance area. Rumor has it that our district would, in fact, take advantage of that rule and require those students to switch schools a second time – if only because the school district would then have more control over how many kids attend each of its schools.
This strikes me as a good example of the kind of unintended consequence that “education reform” proposals are apt to lead to. The government invited these kids to switch schools on the theory that they had been disadvantaged by their existing school assignment. Many of the SINA schools had a fairly high degree of turnover already, so some of the students who transferred to our school may have already switched schools before. Now, just a few years later, the government may force those kids to switch schools yet again – meaning that some of them may end up having switched schools twice or even three times just during the course of elementary school. How can that possibly help disadvantaged kids?
I hope the speculation is false, and that our district will allow any child who transferred out of a SINA school to finish out elementary school at his or her current school.
More coverage of the waiver proposals is available here.