Could Push Up Charter Schools
from Gongwer News
Service, November 27, 2002
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When the No Child left Behind Act was first signed by
President George W. Bush earlier in the year, the U.S.
Department of Education said school districts would not have
to offer transportation to from a school failing to meet
standards to one meeting those criteria. But that loophole in
the school choice language went out the window Tuesday with
the release of the department's final regulations implementing
School buildings not meeting adequate yearly progress
standards for at least two years on state standardized tests
used must offer students the choice of supplemental tutoring
or transportation to another school that is making adequate
yearly progress. And under the new regulations, those
successful schools must make room even if they are already
full or have class size reduction plans in place.
School officials in Michigan said the change in policy could
lead to creation of more charter schools by school districts
and intermediate school districts as schools try to find
places for the children who decide to leave the potentially
hundreds of schools that are not meeting adequate yearly
Some national groups feared the policy could be the opening to
again propose vouchers as an option for students in schools
not making adequate yearly progress, but federal officials
said that idea, originally part of the president's proposal,
would not be resurrected.
But state education officials said the policy could lead to
development of more charter schools, especially by ISDs, to
provide space for those children looking for a choice.
"If you're a school district that doesn't have room, you
should start a charter school with your ISD," said Michael
Flanagan, executive director of the Michigan Association of
School Administrators. "That's just a natural for the ISD to
work out something that's a little different than the
Tony Derezinski with the Michigan Association of School Boards
said charter schools are an option as schools look for choice
alternatives. "That is a possibility," he said. "The districts
themselves could do it."
But he said the option would only work if the charter school
is providing a stronger educational base than the other
schools in the district. "The results would have to be
affirmative in order for that to be more than a one- or
two-year fix," he said.
If the new charter is not making adequate yearly progress on
its test scores, it also could be forced to allow students
that choice to move to another school.
But Mr. Derezinski said the first reaction of most districts
to the new regulations will be panic, especially over the size
of the document, which easily tops 300 pages.
The reality of the need to take some action will not likely
begin to settle until the State Board of Education completes
its work on the issue sometime after the first of the year,
Mr. Derezinski said. "When the State Board of Education
finalizes the components of adequate yearly progress and the
Education YES accreditation program, districts will realize
that this is huge and now," he said.
At that point, he said he expected concerns to be raised over
the standards of No Child Left Behind, because he said many
schools are going to be on the list needing improvement
because of the performance of a minority group within the
school. The law provides that adequate yearly progress is
based on the improvement of the lowest of either the school as
a whole or any minority racial, ethnic or economic group
within that school.
"The disturbing thing would be to find that because of one
subset underscoring you are
consequence. That unfairness alone will bring a lot of
uproar from districts."
The requirement for supplemental services such as tutoring
also will challenge schools as they try to determine which are
the best programs, he said. The state Department of Education
is currently compiling a list of approved supplemental service
A final list of schools in need of improvement is expected
early next month as the department sorts out the schools that
did not make adequate progress based on the standards approved
by the board earlier this month but that improved the lowest
group by at least 10 percent, which under the federal act
grants the school a one-year reprieve from sanctions.