Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Latest From Charleston

This article, Has District Shown Bias?, was in today's Charleston Post-Courier. From my reading of it, it seems there has been a dispute within the district whether two so-called magnet schools have received equity in resources (types of classes offered and numbers of administrators) and allowing transfers made under NCLB.

From the article:

"The investigation targets Charleston Progressive Academy and Buist Academy, two kindergarten through eighth-grade schools on the peninsula. Nearly all of Charleston Progressive students are black, and 69 percent of Buist students are white.

The district denies the allegations and asserts it is operating Buist's academic program the same way it did when the school opened in 1985.

Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson said the district doesn't have a standard for what magnet schools should receive, and she questioned how anyone could accuse the district of discriminating because it lacked that standard. Charleston Progressive and Buist were set up and have been funded differently, she said."

So because their district established no standard, there's no discrimination? That's a little hard to figure. Maybe you might not call it discrimination but rather a lack of equity between the schools. But you'd think that with the obvious race differences in the schools, you might want to be sensitive to making sure that the differences between them weren't so striking.

Again from the article:

"The investigation also will look at whether the district was discriminatory in allowing 87 students to transfer to Charleston Progressive but not allowing any to go to Buist under the federal No Child Left Behind law. The district's policy on transfers excludes magnet schools because they have entrance requirements and waiting lists. Charleston Progressive, like Buist, has both but still accepts transfer students. The district contends that no minority students asked to transfer to Buist under the federal law, according to investigation documents.

The investigation also will look at whether Goodloe-Johnson retaliated against parents who have been vocal about the need to improve low-income schools. The downtown board gave six students approval to transfer to Buist under the federal law, but the superintendent denied the transfers and notified the media before mailing letters to parents, according to investigation documents.

Goodloe-Johnson denied retaliating and said parents knew they couldn't transfer to the school because it's a magnet school."

I'm not sure if under NCLB you can make those decisions if you are talking about a public school. I haven't heard of any kids getting in to, say, TOPS using NCLB. It seems odd that the downtown board would approve transfers (they must have a very different board system) and then Dr. Goodloe-Johnson say no. The idea that she notified the media before the parents is not great news.

2 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

From the Department of Ed, NCLB area:

"May specialty schools, such as schools for the performing arts, be offered to students as transfer options?

Yes. However, LEAs do not need to disregard entrance requirements when identifying transfer options for students. For example, an LEA may require students wishing to transfer to a fine arts magnet school or to a school for gifted students to meet the normal eligibility requirements for those schools, even if there are no other choices available to eligible students in the district."

This seems to make clear that even if a school has entrance requirements that if transfer students meet them, they can get in. The document further goes on to say that space at any given school should be given to the students on the list who are the lowest achieving from low-income families and that transportation can be limited if the child's original school gets its AYP back up.

There is just a ton of information on the NCLB site. It makes me wonder who, in any given district, reads it all and knows it. I would have to say that it would take one hardworking, loves-to-read parent to know all your rights under NCLB.

Anonymous said...

"I would have to say that it would take one hardworking, loves-to-read parent to know all your rights under NCLB."

In Charleston they have had to do just that. Still the superintendent and the county school administration find ways to thwart children and parents at every turn. Charleston has "constituent boards" which by law review inter and intra district transfers, even if only to rubber stamp them under NCLB. The superintendent and the county board have actively worked to undermine the authority, real or imagined, of local or area boards. Often these constituent boards are the only official body within the system that helps to guide parents through these twisted paths. These board members, along with concerned and active parents, have together tried to educate themselves on the rules and rights within the system under the law. We do find it troubling that the superintendent would think that because there is no magnet school policy any inconsistancy can be defended. There is also something called de facto segregation which she appears to be ignoring.