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Kids in sub-par schools can transfer earlier

The state board of education issued a declaration allowing students of low-performing schools to transfer out earlier.

July 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
In a dramatic move, the California Board of Education has issued an emergency declaration targeting 1,000 of the lowest-performing schools in the state. More than 30 percent of those schools are in Southern California. California students who attend those low-performing schools will now be able to transfer out this academic year instead of next, under the emergency declaration unanimously approved by the California Board of Education.

Board members feel the moved-up date is necessary because many kids are at risk of "serious harm" if they remain in those schools.

"One child trapped in one of those schools for one more year is, in fact, an emergency," said board member Benjamin Austin.

While the "serious harm" actually means harm to children's futures, some parents were upset because the use of an emergency order is alarmist and could be interpreted as physical harm.

"It's very scary and that emotion will just set all kinds of triggers within them as to how to make a decision and where they can send their children," said Suzan Solomon, a Santa Clarita parent.

Districts must notify parents whose children attend one of the 1,000 lowest-performing schools of their options by Sept. 15. Some superintendents don't know what to do, considering they've already budgeted for the school year.

"We have staffed the number of children that we know are going to be in each school," said Tustin Unified School District Superintendent Richard Bray.

Advocates of open enrollment say these kids can't wait another year. Failing schools have been given numerous opportunities over the years to improve and have had only marginal success.

"This choice gives parents that opportunity to un-trap their children and get their children out of the bondage of that failing school," said K.W. Tulloss, a South L.A. pastor.

Many parents may want to transfer their kids to a better school but won't be able to. Transportation will be a problem because many school districts won't be able to provide it.


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