Posted by: Magistra | May 19, 2006

Weekly Problem with NCLB

One problem with the “school choice” provision in NCLB is that it creates situations where schools are forced to choose between overcrowding their schools, violating NCLB’s choice provisions, and violating court ordered desegregation plans. School districts in Chicago and Birmingham are considering schools at their maximum enrollment off-limits for NCLB transfers (link). In Florida, a U.S. District judge ruled that the Pinellas County School District could not violate their desegregation plan to accommodate NCLB transfers (link – if this page just looks like code at first to you too, try hitting “refresh”). In Georgia, a judge looks ready to rule that a school district in Bibb County can ignore both desegregation and NCLB transfers if a school has no available places (same link).

Jack Jennings, a former general counsel for the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor and current president for the Center on Education Policy, says that in 2002 at the beginning of NCLB, the DOE told local officials that they would have to build new classrooms and hire new teachers to accommodate NCLB transfers (same link again). That has obviously not been the case. But the conflicting rules coming from judges offer no clearer guidelines.

What’s better? Failing to meet NCLB requirements or failing to follow desegregation plans? Even if you’re for some kind of school choice (which is a pre-NCLB concept), I can’t imagine being for a law that essentially requires schools to break one law or another.

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