WASHINGTON (AP) -- School districts cannot use overcrowded classes in better-performing schools as an excuse to keep students from transferring from failing schools, according to new federal regulations.
A federal education law signed by President Bush in January makes more federal money available for elementary and secondary education, but holds educators accountable for failures in teaching the nation's 48 million public school students.
If a failing school does not make progress, parents must be offered the chance to transfer their children to another school even if that school is full, according to a final version of the regulations released last month by the Education Department.
''Parents must be given options for seeking better and expanded learning opportunities for their children,'' Education Secretary Rod Paige said. ''The American people have made it clear that they want schools held accountable for delivering a world-class education for every child.''
Jack Jennings, director of the Center on Education Policy think tank in Washington, said offering the choice of transferring students from failing schools is good, but the Education Department ''has interpreted the law to make this almost an absolute right of parents regardless of other factors.''
He said schools will be required to hire new teachers or add classes to accommodate these transfers.
''They're saying choice is the paramount good overriding health and safety concerns, overriding reducing class size,'' he said. He said the Bush administration is ''imposing burdens on local school districts that go beyond the extent of the federal aid.''
The law requires students in grades three through eight to be tested annually in reading and math, beginning in fall 2005. States must show a certain level of improvement every two years and have all schools performing at a proficient level by 2014.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.