Don’t like your kid’s school district? Transferring could become easier—if they’re being bullied

Jul 30, 2018 by

After overcoming homelessness, Keshara Shaw has been determined to improve circumstances for her family. She got a job and a place to live. But she’s having a harder time getting her 8-year-old son into a good school.

Shaw doesn’t like the school he was assigned to in their Los Angeles neighborhood because students aren’t performing well and the surrounding streets are riddled with violence. Instead, she wants him to go to a different school where she thinks he’ll be safer and get a better education. But there’s a problem: That school is not in her district. And the district she lives in — Los Angeles Unified — wouldn’t allow him to leave.

“We don’t feel safe in our neighborhood,” she said. “There’s a little bit of gang violence going on in the neighborhood, and recently, someone pulled a gun on my mom.”

Shaw told this story to a panel of legislators last year, testifying in support of a bill that would have allowed more children like hers to transfer to a school outside their own district. But school administrators and teacher unions opposed it, arguing that the bill would be disastrous for districts because so many students could change schools. Lawmakers on the Assembly Education Committee sided with them and killed the bill.

Now Shaw, and some parents like her, are getting a second chance. The bill is back—but this time, in a much more limited form.

Last year’s bill would have made it easier for all 3.6 million students from low-income families to transfer to another district, by prohibiting the family’s home district from denying the request if the chosen district accepts the student. This year’s version is narrower. It applies only to foster youth, those from migrant families, those currently or recently homeless—about 400,000 students in all—plus one other category with a broader scope: kids who are being bullied.

“I’m someone who’s willing to find ways to move something forward even if I end up making less progress than I might like,” said Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley of Rocklin, the bill’s author.

The measure is advancing with little opposition this year, a sign that Kiley’s strategy seems to have worked. But the fight to get to this point reflects greater tensions in education circles over how much power parents should have to pick the school that’s best for their kids. And as in many education debates, it’s pitted the school establishment—district officials and labor unions—against activists who believe that shaking up the system will help more kids learn.

While most debates over school choice pit private schools against public schools, or neighborhood schools against charters, the tension here is all within the traditional school system.

Source: Don’t like your kid’s school district? Transferring could become easier—if they’re being bullied – Daily News

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