Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Transferring Up

New York Times: By Jonathan Kozol
Congress has an opportunity to take advantage of the opening created by Justice Kennedy later this year when it reauthorizes the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The law gives children the right to transfer from a low-performing school to a high-performing school if the low-performing school has failed to demonstrate adequate improvement two years after being warned of its shortcomings.

Unfortunately, the transfer provision has until now been a bust. Less than 3 percent of eligible children have been able to transfer, in part because of the scarcity of space in high-performing schools within most urban districts. Although the law does not prohibit transfers between urban and suburban schools, it offers no inducements to the states to make this possible.

Democrats in the Senate should therefore introduce an amendment to authorize and make easier cross-district transfers — not on a specifically race-conscious basis, but solely to fulfill the professed intention of the law.
There is obvious urgency to this. ...

In the Boston area, for instance, 16,000 children — nearly one-third of all minority children in the city’s schools — are on the waiting list to transfer. (It is worth noting that of the children who participate in the Boston transfer program, 95 percent graduate from high school and nearly 90 percent go on to higher education.)

Kozol, one of our best writers on education, specifies a number of provisions that such legislation should include, and calls on Senator Kennedy to take advantage of the opportunity provided by Justice Kennedy to ameliorate the wholesale resegregation of American education.

I've never been a fan of Bush's educational policy--always more promise than delivery. This might salvage a bit of substance in responding to patterns of residential (and associated jurisdictional) segregation. Hardly a panacea, but an incremental improvement in some areas.

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