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Elementary lock-in: No more Manchester choice

Manchester soon will save some money by limiting the choices of parents whose children are stuck in schools that fail to teach them adequately.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, students in schools labeled 'in need of improvement' can be granted the option of transferring to another school within the district. But what happens when every school in the district fails to meet its NCLB benchmarks, as is the case with Manchester elementary schools?

Until now, parents have been allowed to move their kids from a Title I elementary school, which is one that has a high proportion of students from low-income families, to a non-Title I school even if both are labeled as 'in need of improvement.' The school board has voted to disallow that practice. Now, students will be stuck in the school to which they are assigned.

The reason? The board wants to save the $67,000 a year in federal money that it pays to bus students whose parents opt out of one school for another under NCLB.

The board suggests that it can use that money to fund tutoring programs. If it is going to make kids stay in schools that do not suit them, that is the least it can do. The better option would be to allow parents to choose whatever school that fits, within the district or without.

Eric Church
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