What If No One Makes A Choice?

One of the key parts to No Child Left Behind allows parents to move their kids to another school if the one they attend has been declared a "failure". So what happens if very few families take that choice? That seems to be what happened in Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas and the surrounding area). Six thousand students at low-achieving schools were given the option to transfer and only 15 accepted.

There are several possible reasons for parents making the choice to keep their kids at their neighborhood schools. One of the most compelling, however, is the fact that most openings in the better schools are relatively far away.

As the district’s list of campuses "needing improvement" grows, the potential pool of schools that can accept transfers shrinks, Lange said. District officials struggled to find campuses that were both high-achieving and had open seats this year. For students opting to transfer from Williams, the nearest campuses that met the conditions were both in Henderson — at least a 30-minute car ride away.

The distance likely played some part in the low number of students opting for transfers, Lange said. While the district pays for transportation to and from school, parents who rely on public transportation may find it difficult to pick up a sick child during the day or attend after-hour events, Lange said.

"It’s understandable that parents don’t want their elementary school kids across town, they want them nearby," Lange said. "Parents don’t want to give up the convenience of the neighborhood school."

The same thing is about to happen in the very large school system I work for. Most of our schools are very crowded and for students to move from their "failing" school, they will have to travel a long way to find room in a better school. Some people suggest that the system pay for the students to attend class in private or parochial schools that are closers. Even if that was part of the equation, however, most of those schools in this area are also full.

I’ve got an idea! Why don’t we work to improve those low-performing schools instead of spending money on busses and paperwork? Nah! That’s too simple.