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NCLB Outrages

The numbers just didn't work.

Ohanian Comment: When will Birmingham News editorialists start concerning themselves with the numbers that don't work in the city high schools' systematic pushout of Black students?


Seventeen Birmingham middle schools fell short of the federal No Child Left Behind Act goals and had to offer parents the option of transferring their children from those schools to a higher-performing school. But only three city middle schools met the federal standards and could accept transfer students.

The result is that hundreds of students whose parents wanted them in better schools had nowhere to go. So much for no child left behind.

Then again, this problem should have been expected. Indeed, the architects of No Child Left Behind anticipated that some students at failing schools - as defined by NCLB standards - wouldn't be able to transfer to better-performing schools because there would be no school to which they could transfer.

That's why the law requires schools to provide extra tutoring to students who stay. It's clear Birmingham will rely more on tutoring than transfers.

Last week, Birmingham school officials said 276 students requested transfers from their schools. Of those, only 79 - 29 percent - were granted. The reason: There was no place in the three schools for most of those who requested transfers.

The three middle schools that met NCLB goals are Arrington, Daniel Payne and W.J. Christian. Superintendent Wayman B. Shiver Jr. said those schools are now filled to capacity. "So we don't want to create a new situation by overcrowding successful schools," Shiver said.

He's right. There is no way the three schools can handle all the students who wanted to leave the schools that came up short in test scores. Despite what some critics who want more transfers say, the worst thing school officials could do is to overburden the schools that are doing well by trying to squeeze too many students into them.

What school officials must do is concentrate on bringing the city's other middle schools up to par - while making tutoring available to every student who needs it.

People can argue all they want about the merits of No Child Left Behind concerning transfers. But it means little if there is nowhere for students to transfer to.

— Editorial
Birmingham News


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