Are Kids Still Left Behind? No
It's an odd title on this one, but that's what the newspaper has.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act authorized the greatest expansion of educational opportunity for low-income and minority students in 50 years. Among its dramatic reforms, the law gives students previously trapped in chronically failing schools the right to transfer to higher-performing schools. This ticket out of bad schools applies to more than 12 million students nationwide and 400,000 students in New York City.
To help make this a reality, President Bush increased federal education funding dramatically - a staggering 69% in New York State.
The law and its transfer provision represent a great move forward. Parents are impatient with school bureaucrats who plead endlessly for more time and more money. They shouldn't be expected to sacrifice their children a single day longer.
Yet three years after the law was approved, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has decided he simply is not going to comply. Last year, the Department of Education authorized just 7,000 children to transfer to better schools, out of an eligible pool of 400,000. This year, rather than increasing the number of students getting transfers, Klein has artificially - and illegally - capped transfers to fewer than 1,000 students.
What no one is admitting is that the better public schools do not want the tougher-to-educate children and have been pressuring Klein to stop the transfers. So, after decades of "public" educators accusing charter schools and private schools of "creaming" the best students, their own dirty little secret is out. The district school recipe for success apparently is hoarding the good students and, like modern-day Orville Faubuses, they stand in the doorway, blocking new entrants.
By refusing to switch students out of failing schools into better schools, the city is marking each one of them for educational failure. In a sense, the city is shipping off these children to an educational Siberia.
For the sake of these trapped children, the chancellor should reverse himself and let the transfers go forward. It's the right thing to do. If Klein refuses, New York Education Commissioner Richard Mills should intervene.
Carroll is president and Brooks is senior research associate of the Foundation for Educational Reform and Accountability, based in Albany.
Thomas W. Carroll & B. Jason Brooks
NY Daily News
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