NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A Proposal to Let School Children Transfer to Another District

December 5, 2002

New federal regulations under the No Child Left Behind law require that children in failing public schools be allowed to transfer to better schools in the same district. But some critics say that doesn't go far enough. They want to allow parents the option of sending their children to schools in districts other than their own.

  • But many schools face a problem of serious overcrowding -- leaving little or no room for children in search of a better education.
  • States and districts that mandate smaller classroom sizes only confound the overcrowding problem.
  • Most high-performing public schools are located in suburbs and the new rules say that school districts unable to provide a transfer option to every eligible student must "to the extent practicable, establish a cooperative agreement for a transfer" with a neighboring district.
  • But suburban districts have no incentives to accept low-achieving students from inner-cities.

Critics note that the law authorizes up to $100 million for voluntary choice programs, but the Bush administration has asked Congress for only one-quarter of that amount. They want to see that fully funded, with some of the money going to suburban districts to encourage them to accept inner-city children.

Source: Goodwin Liu, "Real Options for School Choice," New York Times, December 4, 2002.  


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