'No child' requirements continue to balloon
The magnitude of the changes coming to our public schools under the new federal "No Child Left Behind" law continues to grow.
The latest bombshell was detailed in a story this week by Education Writer Jennifer Hiller, who wrote about the challenges facing schools as they struggle to keep up with state educational standards.
At the moment, the focus has been on so-called "high poverty" schools where at least 45 percent of the student body qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
There are some 89 schools in this category and they are already feeling the weight of the law. If a school does not make adequate progress in a variety of categories toward meeting state standards, a variety of "sanctions" come into play. They range from offering transfers to better-performing schools and state-paid after-school tutoring to reorganization of the schools or even takeover by a private operator.
But as Hiller notes, the state will soon impose the progress requirements on all schools, not just the high-poverty ones. This makes sense in that it is reasonable to have one set of performance standards for all schools. And since schools can slip on or off the high-poverty list from year to year, it makes sense to keep every one of them on the same track.
This will mean, however, that the state will have to be ready to offer the help, or additional services, to any school in the state at any given time. The logistical and financial impact of this burden will be great.
Policy-makers must begin planning now for those changes. There will be a natural tendency to hope this all just goes away, but don't count on it. If we're not ready, we will have in effect abandoned our children.