Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Not school choice!

The Harlan Daily Enterprise says an agreement on student transfers is being struck between the Harlan Independent and Harlan County school districts.

It’s a restrictive agreement that cuts into school choice options for parents in the region. If adopted as proposed, parents will have to pay transfer tuition $1,500 per child per year. Even worse, a maximum of only 225 non-resident students will be allowed in each district in the next school year.

Why do parents have to pay for choice between public schools? Why are only a few allowed even that costly option?

How does that look from the viewpoint of the best interests of the student?

Please note that if both districts were doing an equally effective job, there would be no pressure for transfers at all.

But, educational performances in these two districts are from different galaxies. In the recently released 11th grade ACT testing results for 2011, Harlan Independent’s ACT Composite Score was 20.9, far above the state average of 18.8. Harlan County’s was far lower at 17.3 (find that data here).

The Harlan area is not alone with contentious and restrictive transfer agreements. Not long ago, a similar dispute erupted between the Knox County and Corbin Independent school districts. We’ve written plenty about that, such as here.

You can find even more by using our blog search engine with the term “Corbin.”

Just like in the Harlan dispute, in Knox and Corbin educational performance was light years apart. Once again, students lost because adults in the school systems were clearly more concerned about protecting their turf. In the same 2011 testing of 11th graders on the ACT, Knox County got an abysmal ACT Composite Score of 16.8 while Corbin Independent racked up a far more solid 20.1

When will ‘adult issues’ finally stop trumping real educational improvement and the best interests of students in this state? If school districts in places like Knox and Harlan counties faced some real competition for students, maybe those school systems would get on the ball and start doing a better job.

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